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Become A Head Start Teacher

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Working As A Head Start Teacher

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • $42,266

    Average Salary

What Does A Head Start 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 A Head Start 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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Head Start Teacher Career Paths

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Average Length of Employment
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
Lead Pre-K Teacher 2.6 years
Teacher Associate 2.4 years
Child Care Teacher 2.3 years
Teacher Aide 1.9 years
Teacher Assistant 1.9 years
Toddler Teacher 1.8 years
Co-Teacher 1.7 years
Infant Teacher 1.6 years
Top Careers Before Head Start Teacher
Teacher 15.2%
Cashier 6.0%
Internship 4.1%
Volunteer 3.4%
Director 2.0%
Top Careers After Head Start Teacher
Teacher 19.6%
Director 5.2%
Internship 4.7%
Cashier 3.1%
Volunteer 3.0%
Educator 2.8%

Do you work as a Head Start Teacher?

Head Start Teacher Demographics

Gender

Female

90.0%

Male

7.9%

Unknown

2.1%
Ethnicity

White

61.6%

Hispanic or Latino

17.3%

Black or African American

12.0%

Asian

5.7%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

76.9%

Chinese

4.5%

Mandarin

3.7%

French

2.2%

Portuguese

1.5%

Vietnamese

1.5%

Swedish

0.7%

German

0.7%

Russian

0.7%

Japanese

0.7%

Hmong

0.7%

Greek

0.7%

Dari

0.7%

Turkish

0.7%

Cantonese

0.7%

Arabic

0.7%

Korean

0.7%

Malayalam

0.7%

Italian

0.7%
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Head Start Teacher Education

Schools

Ashford University

23.5%

Grand Canyon University

11.6%

University of Phoenix

10.9%

Walden University

7.1%

Capella University

5.7%

Liberty University

3.8%

Central Michigan University

3.8%

Kaplan University

3.8%

Stephen F Austin State University

3.6%

Strayer University

3.6%

Texas Tech University

2.8%

National Louis University

2.4%

Arkansas Tech University

2.4%

Jackson State University

2.4%

Arizona State University

2.1%

Temple University

2.1%

Ashford University Online

2.1%

Florida State University

2.1%

Pacific Oaks College

2.1%

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

2.1%
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Majors

Early Childhood Education

26.1%

Human Development

12.8%

Elementary Education

11.4%

Education

9.5%

Psychology

6.1%

Business

6.0%

Special Education

5.1%

Social Work

3.6%

Human Services

2.5%

Educational Leadership

2.2%

Criminal Justice

1.7%

Curriculum And Instruction

1.6%

Liberal Arts

1.6%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.6%

General Studies

1.5%

Nursing

1.5%

Medical Assisting Services

1.3%

Interdisciplinary Studies

1.3%

Sociology

1.3%

School Counseling

1.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

40.6%

Masters

24.9%

Other

16.3%

Associate

12.7%

Certificate

3.7%

Doctorate

1.0%

Diploma

0.7%

License

0.3%
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Real Head Start Teacher Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Head Start Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Capitol Heights, MD Jul 01, 2011 $53,581
Head Start Teacher Brackett Independent School District Brackettville, TX Jul 11, 2013 $46,510
Head Start Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Upper Marlboro, MD May 02, 2011 $44,799 -
$91,752
Head Start Teacher Crossroads Youth & Family Services, Inc. Norman, OK Apr 18, 2016 $33,571
Head Start Teacher/Supervisor Lulac Head Start Inc. New Haven, CT Dec 20, 2009 $33,392 -
$20
Head Start Teacher Paradise Christian School & Development Center, In Hialeah, FL Sep 28, 2014 $26,060
Head Start Teacher Paradise Christian School & Development Center, In Hialeah, FL Sep 28, 2011 $26,000

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Top Skills for A Head Start Teacher

  1. Child
  2. Lesson Plans
  3. Creative Curriculum
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Work with appropriate agencies in developing specialized planning for children/families as needed.
  • Collaborated with Associate Teachers and assistants developing age-appropriate lesson plans.
  • Assessed children utilizing the Creative Curriculum and the Desired Results Developmental Profile.
  • Prepared classroom materials to support developmentally appropriate curriculum plans; created and changed learning centers as needed.
  • Arranged classroom according to ECERS standards and implemented an effective classroom management strategy that positively impacted students' behaviors.

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Top Head Start Teacher Employers

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