What Degree Is Needed to Become a Preschool Teacher?
Although teacher licensing and educational requirements vary by institution and state, some form of early childhood education training and experience is needed to become a preschool teacher. Keep reading to review the requirements for teaching in a preschool. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Depending on state licensing requirements and your employer, you may be qualified to teach preschool with a high school diploma, postsecondary training, and teaching certification. Many preschool teachers have a minimum of an associate's degree; however, a bachelor's degree and teacher certification may be required in certain states.
Some preschool teaching jobs may only require you to have a high school diploma or its equivalent and a teaching certification, such as the National Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Certifications are beneficial if you haven't completed a degree program or if your degree is in a field other than teaching. To earn a teaching credential, you may have to take postsecondary training courses in child development and early childhood education, earn continuing education credits, have professional experience in daycare or other early childhood settings, and pass a series of tests, which are normally taken during or before student teaching.
Associate's degree programs include courses in early childhood teaching methods, as well as covering the development of language, motor skills, and social skills in children. You may be required to undergo student teaching experience and an internship in a preschool classroom to complete the degree program. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), an increasing number of employers are requiring preschool teachers to have an associate's degree. Some preschools, such as the government-based Head Start program, already have mandatory requirements for teachers to hold an associate's degree.
Earning a bachelor's degree in early childhood education can qualify you to teach preschool through third grade. Through bachelor's degree programs, you take early childhood development courses, such as child behavior and cognitive development, and gain experience with student teaching. Bachelor's degree programs may offer concentrations that will prepare you for immediate licensure, or they may offer non-licensure tracks.
A master's degree program in early childhood education can prepare you for advanced teaching and supervisory positions in public and private preschools, as well as other early childcare centers. Through such programs, you study educational theory, high-level teaching methodology, educational research, early educational leadership skills, and child learning development.
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