The first step to becoming a preschool teacher is getting the degree needed to teach preschool students. While preschool teacher do not necessarily need a teaching credential that is required to teach grades 1 through 12, you will still need to complete coursework on children’s growth and development, so that you understand behaviors and how to choose fun learning activities that are age appropriate. Be sure that you check the state requirements and the educational requirements to earn your certificate when required so that you know which route to travel down to become a qualified preschool teacher.
Earn Your Associate’s Degree If You Plan to Work in a Childcare Center
You can work in childcare settings with as little as a high school diploma, but if you want to work at the higher paying facilities you will need an Associate’s in Early Childhood Education, according to US News and World Report. You will complete coursework in child growth, child development and methods for teaching young children. By spending 2 two years completing your prerequisites and coursework in early education, you will become a lead at childcare centers or an experienced candidate for Headstart programs. You will also be one step closer to being qualified for a credentialed teaching role.
Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
If you would like to work as a preschool teacher in a public school, you will be required to complete a post-secondary degree in the right area of studies. The major in Early Childhood Education is actually designed just for teachers who will be working with students who are in preschool through 3rd grade, as it covers early development, guidance tactics and theory application on child growth. While credentials are not always required to teach students who have not yet entered kindergarten, you will need to possess your bachelor’s degree to get top-level public positions.
Get Certified with a Nationally Recognized Certification
Many states now require that public preschool teachers pursue a special Child Development Associate credential to work in any setting. If you need to earn a separate state certification, you will need to take exams and also demonstrate that you can comprehend the content that you covered in a bachelor’s degree program. You should consider earning a National Child Care Association’s Certified Childcare Professional credential if you do not possess a degree and you want to qualify for entry-level positions as you study for a degree.
If you are nearing your graduation, be sure to apply for the nationally-recognized CDA certification just to demonstrate that you are competent and experienced. You can check the requirements for a CDA credential through the Council for Professional Recognition so that you can verify that you are ready to begin the credentialing process.
Related Resource: 504 Plan in Education
The path that you will take to teach preschool depends entirely on the setting that you want to teach in. This can be a tough profession to plan for because working for a public school will require more education than working for a private facility. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons between each type of setting by comparing salaries, schedules, demand and benefits. Once you see the big picture, you will be able to decide if the degree needed to teach preschool with be a two-year degree or a four-year degree in Early Childhood Education.