The landscape for preschool teachers has been changing rapidly for the past several decades, driven mostly by increasing government involvement in the process. In recent years, preschool has been pushed as the best way to increase student development and achievement throughout their entire educational careers, and that means the stakes are pretty high. Increasingly, the educational requirements within the preschool and childcare industries are quite high in comparison to years gone by as well. While a Bachelor’s degree isn’t always required for preschool teachers, education requirements are changing and these changes are worth noting.
Educational Requirements Vary By Position and Venue
Unlike primary and secondary education jobs, those available to preschool teachers don’t currently benefit from having a uniform educational requirement for teachers. Even so, there are some general guidelines to follow when considering whether or not a Bachelor’s degree is beneficial, recommended, or required.
The Head Start program has long required preschool educators to have at least an Associate’s degree. It should be noted that this Associate’s degree must be in Early Childhood Education or an education-related field. Those without coursework in education will simply not be deemed qualified for this type of position. Further, those who want the best chance of being hired and promoted will want to obtain at least a four-year degree in Early Childhood Education in most states.
Public School Jobs
Numerous public schools are starting to develop and host their own preschool programs, especially those in states like Oklahoma where preschool is a requirement. Public school programs require the same thing of their preschool teachers that they do of their elementary and secondary instructors. A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution must be earned before applicants will be considered qualified for the position.
In a limited number of states, ongoing graduate-level coursework in education must also be completed to earn a permanent license to teach these classes. Some states also enforce a mandatory work experience requirement that’s similar to the student teaching period required of traditional classroom instructors. This does vary between states, however, so those applying for public school jobs should double-check both their experience and local requirements prior to filing an application.
Private Child Care Jobs
Though many preschool students are enrolled in either Head Start or a public school program, others do teach at private learning centers and childcare facilities. For those professionals, a Bachelor’s degree is more of an option than a requirement. Earning a four-year degree will give aspiring preschool educators their best chance at landing the job.
The baseline educational requirement enforced by most private preschool settings is a high school diploma paired with a certification in Early Childhood Education or development. Before assuming this is the case, applicants should research educational requirements enforced by private employers, since they tend to vary a bit more than those enforced by public schools and Head Start.
Related Resource: Specialize an Education Degree
Excellent Opportunities at All Levels for Early Educators
Early Childhood Education is becoming increasingly regulated and is requiring more and more professionals to bring a four-year degree when they attend a job interview. As with virtually all jobs, applicants should review the prospective employer’s specific requirements to make sure that their educational background, work experience, and professional certifications will allow them to accept the job and enjoy a rewarding career in the field, according to US News and World Report.