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Become An Early Childhood Teacher

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Working As An Early Childhood Teacher

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • $59,404

    Average Salary

What Does An Early Childhood Teacher Do

Preschool teachers educate and care for children younger than age 5 who have not yet entered kindergarten. They teach reading, writing, science, and other subjects in a way that young children can understand.

Duties

Preschool teachers typically do the following:

  • Teach children basic skills such as color, shape, number, and letter recognition
  • Work with children in groups or one on one, depending on the needs of children and the subject matter
  • Plan and carry out a curriculum that targets different areas of child development, such as language, motor, and social skills
  • Organize activities so children can learn about the world, explore interests, and develop skills
  • Develop schedules and routines to ensure children have enough physical activity, rest, and playtime
  • Watch for signs of emotional or developmental problems in children and bring them to the attention of the parents
  • Keep records of the students’ progress, routines, and interests, and inform parents about their child’s development

Young children learn from playing, problem solving, questioning, and experimenting. Preschool teachers use play and other instructional techniques to teach children about the world. For example, they use storytelling and rhyming games to teach language and vocabulary. They may help improve children’s social skills by having them work together to build a neighborhood in a sandbox or teach math by having children count when building with blocks.

Preschool teachers work with children from different ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. Teachers include topics in their lessons to teach children to respect people of different backgrounds and cultures.

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How To Become An Early Childhood Teacher

Education and training requirements vary based on settings and state regulations. They range from a high school diploma and certification to a college degree.

Education

In childcare centers, preschool teachers generally are required to have a least a high school diploma and a certification in early childhood education. However, employers may prefer to hire workers with at least some postsecondary education in early childhood education.

Preschool teachers in Head Start programs are required to have at least an associate’s degree. However, at least 50 percent of all preschool teachers in Head Start programs nationwide must have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. Those with a degree in a related field must have experience teaching preschool-age children.

In public schools, preschool teachers are generally required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. Bachelor’s degree programs teach students about children’s development, strategies to teach young children, and how to observe and document children’s progress.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require preschool teachers to obtain the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. Obtaining the CDA credential requires coursework, experience in the field, a written exam, and observation of the candidate working with children. The CDA credential is valid for three years and requires renewal.

Some states recognize the Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) designation offered by the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation. Some of the requirements needed to obtain the CCP include that the candidate must be 18 years old, have a high school diploma, have experience in the field, take courses in early childhood education, and pass an exam. The CCP accreditation requires renewal every two years through the CCP maintenance process.

In public schools, preschool teachers must be licensed to teach early childhood education, which covers preschool through third grade. Requirements vary by state, but they generally require a bachelor’s degree and passing an exam to demonstrate competency. Most states require teachers to complete continuing education credits to maintain their license.

Other Experience

A few states require preschool teachers to have some work experience in a childcare setting. The amount of experience necessary varies by state. In these cases, preschool teachers often start out as childcare workers or teacher assistants.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Preschool teachers need good communication skills to talk to parents and colleagues about students’ progress. They need good writing and speaking skills to convey this information effectively. They must also be able to communicate well with small children.

Creativity. Preschool teachers must plan lessons that engage young students. In addition, they need to adapt their lessons to suit different learning styles.

Interpersonal skills. Preschool teachers must understand children’s emotional needs and be able to develop good relationships with parents, children, and colleagues.

Organizational skills. Teachers need to be organized to plan lessons and keep records of their students.

Patience. Working with children can be frustrating, and preschool teachers should be able to respond calmly to overwhelming and difficult situations.

Physical stamina. Working with children can be physically taxing, so preschool teachers should have a lot of energy.

Advancement

Experienced preschool teachers can advance to become the director of a preschool or childcare center or a lead teacher, who may be responsible for the instruction of several classes. Those with a bachelor's degree in early childhood education frequently are qualified to teach kindergarten through grade 3, in addition to preschool. Teaching positions at these higher grades typically pay more. For more information, see the profiles on preschool and childcare center directors and kindergarten and elementary school teachers.

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Early Childhood Teacher Jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Teacher 3.8 years
Master Teacher 3.5 years
Group Teacher 3.5 years
Head Teacher 3.3 years
Head Start Teacher 3.0 years
Lead Teacher 2.7 years
Preschool Teacher 2.7 years
Pre-K Teacher 2.6 years
Teacher Associate 2.4 years
Toddler Teacher 1.8 years
Co-Teacher 1.7 years
Infant Teacher 1.6 years
Top Employers Before
Teacher 16.8%
Cashier 6.6%
Internship 5.5%
Volunteer 3.4%
Tutor 2.8%
Director 2.3%
Server 2.2%
Top Employers After
Teacher 18.4%
Volunteer 3.3%
Nanny 3.2%
Director 3.1%
Internship 2.9%
Cashier 2.7%
Tutor 2.4%

Do you work as an Early Childhood Teacher?

Early Childhood Teacher Demographics

Gender

Female

90.7%

Male

7.5%

Unknown

1.8%
Ethnicity

White

62.7%

Hispanic or Latino

16.0%

Black or African American

11.6%

Asian

6.0%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

65.5%

French

6.0%

German

5.2%

Italian

3.4%

Portuguese

2.6%

Russian

2.6%

Hebrew

1.7%

Ukrainian

1.7%

Japanese

1.7%

Korean

1.7%

Chinese

0.9%

Igbo

0.9%

Albanian

0.9%

Cantonese

0.9%

Amharic

0.9%

Mandarin

0.9%

Irish

0.9%

Arabic

0.9%

Bosnian

0.9%
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Early Childhood Teacher Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

12.1%

Ashford University

10.3%

Touro College

6.7%

Grand Canyon University

6.3%

Northeastern Illinois University

5.8%

Liberty University

5.8%

Walden University

5.4%

Lesley University

4.9%

Nova Southeastern University

4.5%

Northern Illinois University

4.5%

University of North Texas

4.0%

Capella University

4.0%

Wilmington University

3.6%

University of Nevada - Reno

3.6%

Michigan State University

3.1%

Arizona State University

3.1%

DePaul University

3.1%

University of Illinois at Chicago

3.1%

Hofstra University

3.1%

Lindenwood University

3.1%
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Majors

Early Childhood Education

22.5%

Elementary Education

12.4%

Special Education

11.4%

Education

10.1%

Psychology

6.6%

Human Development

6.0%

Business

4.6%

Educational Leadership

3.7%

General Education, Specific Areas

3.0%

Curriculum And Instruction

2.3%

Nursing

2.1%

Human Services

2.1%

Criminal Justice

2.0%

Medical Assisting Services

1.8%

Social Work

1.8%

Communication

1.7%

Sociology

1.7%

Counseling Psychology

1.6%

Liberal Arts

1.4%

English

1.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

34.2%

Masters

29.1%

Other

19.5%

Associate

9.3%

Certificate

4.9%

Doctorate

1.9%

Diploma

0.6%

License

0.4%
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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Early Childhood Teacher Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Early Childhood Kindergarten Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Bowie, MD Oct 01, 2009 $82,873
Teacher-Early Childhood Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD May 28, 2013 $69,664
Pre-K Early Childhood Education Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Cheverly, MD May 01, 2011 $65,674
Early Childhood Education Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Oxon Hill, MD Oct 01, 2010 $61,965
Early Childhood Teacher Potomac Lighthouse Public Charter School Washington, DC Jul 23, 2012 $56,000
Early Childhood Teacher Potomac Lighthouse Public Charter School Washington, DC Jan 20, 2014 $56,000
Early Childhood Teacher Potomac Preparatory Public Charter School Washington, DC May 12, 2015 $56,000
Early Childhood Teacher Lycee Francais de New York New York, NY Aug 01, 2013 $55,420 -
$112,878
Early Childhood Education Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Bowie, MD Oct 01, 2009 $54,907
Early Childhood Spanish Classroom Teacher Atlanta International School Atlanta, GA Sep 16, 2015 $53,000 -
$63,000
Early Childhood Teacher Brooklyn Montessori Ltd New York, NY Sep 17, 2015 $52,590
Early Childhood Teacher Lycee Francais de New York New York, NY Aug 01, 2014 $51,146 -
$116,264
Excite Early Childhood Teacher Lincoln Public Schools Lincoln, NE Aug 13, 2012 $51,107
Early Childhood Teachers Lycee Francais de New York New York, NY Jan 08, 2016 $51,000 -
$131,742
Pre-K Early Childhood Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Fort Washington, MD Jun 29, 2011 $44,799 -
$82,873
Early Childhood Teacher WFM, LLC Rockville, MD Oct 01, 2013 $43,577
Early Childhood/Kindergarten Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Bladensburg, MD Apr 14, 2009 $43,481 -
$80,436
Early Childhood/Preschool Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Capitol Heights, MD Apr 10, 2009 $43,481 -
$80,436
Early Childhood/Kindergarten Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Suitland, MD Apr 10, 2009 $43,481 -
$80,436
Early Childhood/Kindergarten Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Upper Marlboro, MD Apr 20, 2009 $43,481 -
$80,436
Pre-K Early Childhood Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Fort Washington, MD Dec 09, 2009 $43,481 -
$80,436
Early Childhood/Kindergarten Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Capitol Heights, MD Apr 15, 2009 $43,481 -
$80,436
Early Childhood Teacher R & S Morey, Inc. Laguna Niguel, CA Jan 27, 2015 $34,112
Early Childhood Japanese and English Language Teac Gakkyusha U.S.A. Co., Ltd. San Mateo, CA Sep 21, 2012 $34,000
Early Childhood Teacher Independent School District #57, Garfield County Enid, OK Dec 31, 2013 $33,980
Early Childhood Teacher Lead Eagle Vally Childcare Association-Vail Vail, CO Apr 09, 2014 $33,392
Teacher, Early Childhood Georgetown Hill Early School Rockville, MD Oct 01, 2014 $33,392
Early Childhood Teacher 1 The Ohio State University Columbus, OH Jun 18, 2014 $33,301
Early Childhood Teacher Pat-Kam School and Early Childhood Center, Inc. Uniondale, NY Jul 07, 2015 $33,000

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Top Skills for An Early Childhood Teacher

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  1. Classroom Management
  2. Appropriate Curriculum
  3. Lesson Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Complete classroom management and maintenance including general cleaning, organization and light repair of classroom fixtures and furniture.
  • Design, implement and develop appropriate curriculum according to guidelines established by the National Association for Young Children.
  • Developed and implemented age appropriate lesson plans.
  • Mentored other early childhood teachers and offered suggestions to them very respectfully and professionally.
  • Worked as an Early Childhood Education Teacher in various age groups.

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Top 10 Best States for Early Childhood Teachers

  1. Connecticut
  2. Minnesota
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Michigan
  5. Alaska
  6. New Jersey
  7. California
  8. Nebraska
  9. Maine
  10. New Mexico
  • (161 jobs)
  • (344 jobs)
  • (452 jobs)
  • (437 jobs)
  • (35 jobs)
  • (385 jobs)
  • (1,801 jobs)
  • (52 jobs)
  • (27 jobs)
  • (83 jobs)

Top Early Childhood Teacher Employers

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Jobs From Top Early Childhood Teacher Employers

Early Childhood Teacher Videos

A day in the life of a pre-school teacher

A Day in the Life of an Early Childhood Teacher - Melinda Ferris

ABC News On IEU Equal Pay Claim for Early Childhood Teachers

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