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Become A Pre-K Teacher

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Working As A Pre-K Teacher

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • $44,799

    Average Salary

What Does A Pre-K 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 Pre-K 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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Pre-K Teacher jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Teacher 3.8 years
Headstart Teacher 3.6 years
Group Teacher 3.6 years
Master Teacher 3.5 years
Head Teacher 3.3 years
Montessori Teacher 3.3 years
Head Start Teacher 3.0 years
Pre-K Teacher 3.0 years
Preschool Teacher 2.7 years
Lead Teacher 2.7 years
Lead Pre-K Teacher 2.5 years
Class Teacher 2.4 years
Teacher Associate 2.4 years
Child Care Teacher 2.3 years
1st Grade Teacher 2.3 years
Day Care Teacher 2.1 years
Nursery Teacher 2.1 years
Kinder Teacher 2.1 years
Teacher Aide 2.0 years
Toddler Teacher 1.8 years
Teacher Assistant 1.8 years
Co-Teacher 1.7 years
Infant Teacher 1.7 years
Volunteer Teacher 1.6 years
Floater Teacher 1.3 years
Teacher Internship 0.8 years
Top Employers Before
Teacher 15.7%
Cashier 5.5%
Internship 4.1%
Tutor 2.3%
Volunteer 2.0%
Top Employers After
Teacher 18.2%
Director 3.8%
Cashier 2.8%
Internship 2.7%
Nanny 2.3%
Tutor 2.2%

Pre-K Teacher Demographics

Gender

Female

89.4%

Male

8.8%

Unknown

1.8%
Ethnicity

White

80.2%

Hispanic or Latino

10.9%

Asian

7.0%

Unknown

1.4%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

67.4%

French

7.8%

German

2.8%

Portuguese

2.5%

Korean

2.1%

Italian

2.1%

Hindi

1.8%

Russian

1.8%

Japanese

1.8%

Mandarin

1.4%

Chinese

1.4%

Arabic

1.4%

Greek

1.1%

Tagalog

1.1%

Gujarati

0.7%

Hebrew

0.7%

Urdu

0.7%

Polish

0.7%

Swedish

0.4%

Turkish

0.4%
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Pre-K Teacher Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

13.5%

Grand Canyon University

12.3%

Ashford University

12.3%

Liberty University

9.8%

Walden University

6.2%

Kean University

4.5%

Capella University

4.2%

Georgia State University

4.1%

Kennesaw State University

3.4%

Troy University

3.3%

Montclair State University

3.0%

Kaplan University

3.0%

Georgia Southern University

2.9%

American InterContinental University

2.6%

University of Houston

2.5%

Southern New Hampshire University

2.5%

Texas A&M University

2.5%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

2.5%

Rowan University

2.5%

University of Central Florida

2.4%
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Majors

Early Childhood Education

19.0%

Elementary Education

16.1%

Education

11.8%

Human Development

7.3%

Psychology

7.0%

Special Education

6.0%

Business

6.0%

Educational Leadership

3.1%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.6%

Medical Assisting Services

2.3%

English

2.2%

Human Services

2.0%

Liberal Arts

2.0%

Social Work

1.9%

Sociology

1.9%

Criminal Justice

1.8%

Health Care Administration

1.8%

Interdisciplinary Studies

1.7%

General Studies

1.7%

Nursing

1.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

37.1%

Masters

23.6%

Other

21.7%

Associate

10.5%

Certificate

4.5%

Diploma

1.2%

Doctorate

1.0%

License

0.5%
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Part Time
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Temporary

Real Pre-K Teacher Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Pre-K Montessori Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Oxon Hill, MD May 15, 2011 $82,873
Teacher-Pre-K Baltimore City Public Schools Baltimore, MD Jul 11, 2012 $75,734
Pre-K Lead Teacher D.C. Preparatory Academy Washington, DC Jul 13, 2011 $67,435
Teacher of Mandarin Chines, K Public Schools of Brookline Brookline, MA May 15, 2014 $60,999
Teacher of Mandarin Chines, K Public Schools of Brookline Brookline, MA May 15, 2014 $60,669
Pre-K Lead Teacher Appletree Early Learning Public Charter School Washington, DC Oct 01, 2011 $60,601
Pre-K Lead Teacher Appletree Early Learning Public Charter School Washington, DC Aug 01, 2011 $60,601
Pre-K Lead Teacher Appletree Early Learning Public Charter School Washington, DC Aug 08, 2011 $58,693
Pre-K Bilingual Teacher Spring Branch Independent School District Houston, TX Nov 04, 2014 $54,512
Pre-K Lead Teacher Imagine Southeast Public Charter School Washington, DC Jan 04, 2011 $54,245
Head Start Pre-K Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Hyattsville, MD Oct 31, 2010 $54,241
Early Childhood Pre-K Teacher Prince George's County Public Schools Upper Marlboro, MD Oct 01, 2010 $53,335
Pre-K Lead Teacher Hope Community Charter School Washington, DC Jul 12, 2011 $44,782
Kindergarten/Pre-K Bilingual Teacher Reconciliation Academy Dallas, TX Aug 22, 2011 $44,300
Pre-K/Kindergarten Teacher Alief Montessori Community School Houston, TX Aug 09, 2011 $43,600
Teacher, K Happy Day Education Center Anaheim, CA Sep 27, 2016 $43,201
Early Childhood Pre-K School Teacher Ideal Academy Public Charter School Washington, DC Oct 01, 2011 $42,000
Pre-K Lead Teacher King's Kids Child Care of Faith Christian Family Kennesaw, GA Jun 27, 2011 $41,600
Pre-K Lead Teacher Apple Tree Early Learning Public Charter School Washington, DC Aug 09, 2010 $41,000
Pre-K Lead Teacher Centronia Washington, DC Aug 02, 2015 $40,000
Pre-K Lead Teacher Centronia Washington, DC Aug 02, 2014 $40,000
Pre-K Lead Teacher Centronia Washington, DC Sep 10, 2015 $40,000
Pre-K Lead Teacher Child Care Management, Inc. Alpharetta, GA Aug 01, 2010 $36,836
Pre-K Teacher The Sunshine House, Inc. Roswell, GA Oct 10, 2013 $35,625
Pre-K Teacher The Sunshine House, Inc. Roswell, GA Oct 10, 2010 $34,956

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Top Skills for A Pre-K Teacher

WeeklyLessonPlansClassroomManagementCreativeCurriculumOLDChildrenPre-KindergartenMathematicsLanguageSkillsPre KSmallGroupsSocialSkillsSuperviseDailyActivitiesSocialDevelopmentLearningActivitiesMotorSkillsIEPClassActivitiesSpecialNeedsBasicSkillsChildDevelopment

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Top Pre-K Teacher Skills

  1. Weekly Lesson Plans
  2. Classroom Management
  3. Creative Curriculum
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Implemented weekly lesson plans from an approved curriculum which used developmentally appropriate teaching techniques.
  • Develop and implement classroom design, classroom management techniques, and classroom daily plans.
  • Developed, modified and implemented program curriculum - used Diocese of Paterson Curriculum, New Jersey Standards, and Creative Curriculum.
  • Instructed 3 to 4 years old children.
  • Key Accomplishments: Responsible for Curriculum development of the pre-kindergarten program

Top Pre-K Teacher Employers

Pre-K Teacher Videos

A Day in the Life of a Kindergarten Teacher

A Career in Teaching - Early Childhood Teaching (JTJS52010)

Kathy - Pre-K and Kindergarten

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