Bachelor's Degree Programs for Child Care Professionals

Potential child care workers may want to consider enrolling in bachelor's degree programs in fields like early childhood education or child development. These programs cover topics on childhood development and learning, and online options are available. Read on to learn about several child care-related majors and find out the certification requirements for child care workers. Schools offering Child Care Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Could I Major in to Become a Child Care Professional?

Child care professionals don't necessarily require a specific undergraduate major to become a teacher, day care provider or child care specialist. However, some programs may give you more relevant training, especially if you choose not to advance into graduate studies. Many schools include early childhood education, child development or child life majors among bachelor's degree options.

Depending on the major you choose, undergraduate studies can include teacher training, psychological development or healthcare services. Generally, child care majors include one or more internships or clinical practicums within the program. Some schools require previous experience prior to enrollment. You can also find online or hybrid programs, especially in early childhood education or child development majors.

Program Requirements Coursework and internships
Common Courses: Early Childhood Education Behavioral assessment methods, teaching methods for young children, advocating for children
Common Courses: Child Development Emotional development in children, cognitive psychology, childhood nutrition
Common Courses: Child Life Child development, psychology, pediatric disorders
Online Options Programs with online courses plus in-person requirements available
Graduate Degree Options Dual-degree programs available
Licensure Requirements vary by position and state

What Can I Do With an Early Childhood Education Major?

If your interest lies in academia, a program in early childhood education prepares you to become a school administrator, teacher or day care supervisor. Courses in this type of program not only instruct you on how to teach children, but also provide you with behavioral and psychological assessment, administration and advocacy skills. Some schools offer the option to specialize your studies and earn teacher certification prior to graduation.

What Will I Learn in a Child Development Program?

A child development major leads you through the stages of infancy through adolescence. You'll learn how children develop physically, mentally and emotionally. Several psychology courses are part of the curriculum, including family, cognitive and cultural psychological studies. Some schools offer courses in childhood nutrition, safety and education. You may have the option of customizing your program to focus specifically on infant, toddler or adolescent development.

What Does a Child Life Program Prepare Me For?

Child life majors typically offer training to qualify you for advocacy or professional roles in a healthcare setting. You'll participate in development, psychology and family studies courses alongside classes in medical terminology, pediatric disorders and child care in a hospital setting. Most programs prepare you for optional professional certification as a child life specialist.

Can I Earn My Degree Online?

Several online, distance-learning and hybrid options are available for early childhood education and child development majors. Students can choose from schools that offer fully online programs, distance learning at a remote site or a combination of online and classroom education. Child life majors may find schools that allow general education courses to be taken through distance learning, though core courses are usually only offered on-campus. Nearly all child care programs require on-site intern and teaching experience; however, working teachers may be able to use work performed during a regular job to satisfy this requirement.

Do I Need a Graduate Degree?

Most states don't require you to have a graduate degree to teach or provide child care services. Some programs or majors offer dual-degree options, allowing you to simultaneously earn a master's degree in the same or a related field of study. While a graduate education may not be necessary, an advanced degree and training could provide you with additional employment opportunities. A dual-degree program often adds a year to your typical 4-year bachelor's program.

Do I Have to Be Licensed or Certified?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), licensure and certification regulations vary by state and profession (www.bls.gov). Some states require only a high school diploma and professional certification, while others mandate that teachers and child care workers obtain a bachelor's degree and license before entering the field. The BLS reports that every state requires licensure for kindergarten through high school teachers who work in public schools, though regulations may not be as strict for preschool or private school teachers. Day care or child care specialists could need to be licensed for supervision of more than a few children, and home child care frequently requires safety inspections.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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