How Can I Become the Director of a Preschool?

Explore the career requirements for preschool directors. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Business degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Preschool Director?

Preschool directors oversee preschool programs. They are involved in hiring preschool teachers and other relevant staff, such as assistants, and they also work directly with parents through the registration process. Their objective is to create a preschool environment that is safe, welcoming and fosters age-appropriate learning for children three to five years of age. As part of their duties they develop budgets, purchase materials needed, train staff and may address behavioral issues with children.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree (advanced degree required in some states)
Licensure Required by some states or employers
Education Field of Study Early childhood education, education, management, communications, special education
Key Responsibilities Manage preschool programs and facilities, obtain feedback from parents, hire and evaluate staff, consult with teachers about curriculum, and establish policies
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7% for all childcare center/preschool directors*
Median Wage (2015) $45,670 for all childcare center/preschool directors*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do Preschool Directors Need?

Preschool directors have usually worked as teachers before advancing to the administrative role of running a preschool. A bachelor's degree in early childhood education - or education with an early childhood education emphasis - along with courses in leadership or management provide you with sufficient academic credentials to lead most preschools. Prior work experience in administration is also helpful.

Early childhood education programs focus on the learning potential of children from infancy through preschool, and in some instances, they cover the early elementary grades. Program content examines language acquisition, the physical and psychological stages of development and the cultural factors affecting a child's receptivity to instruction. Teaching methods, child evaluation, special needs children and early literacy are other likely course topics. Most programs include student teaching internships. Virtually all accredited programs also meet their respective state's licensing requirements for early childhood teachers.

Where Do Professionals Work?

A majority of preschools are affiliated with day care services. A smaller but significant number are part of public school districts and private schools. The remainder are run by individuals, civic organizations and religious groups. Although figures on the total number of preschool facilities weren't available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that about 64,000 people worked as preschool directors as of 2014 (www.bls.gov). Between 2014-2024, employment is projected to increase 7% to about 68,200 workers.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Your overall objective as a preschool director will be to make sure that your facility and its programs are well managed and that they provide young children with a safe, nurturing environment. Your specific duties will fall into the areas of outreach, instruction and administration.

Outreach duties might include obtaining feedback from parents via phone, e-mail or face-to-face meetings, developing promotional materials, purchasing advertising and setting up for public events. Hiring, training, supervising and evaluating teaching staff, consulting with teachers about the curriculum and assisting in the classroom as needed are among your possible instructional duties. Administrative duties include establishing policies and procedures that comply with state child care regulations, preparing budgets, maintaining registration records and incident reports, purchasing equipment and supplies and conducting safety inspections.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Several aspects of preschool directors' work are similar to the work that childcare center directors and preschool teachers do. All of these professionals need to be aware of the developmental stages of young children so that they can ensure they're offering age-appropriate lessons or activities to the children in their care.

Childcare center directors need an associate's or bachelor's degree, and they are involved in many administrative tasks that are similar to the tasks that preschool directors perform. They hire staff, address disciplinary issues with children, register children and establish program budgets.

Preschool teachers work under the supervision of preschool directors. They may work together to address disciplinary issues with children. Preschool teachers also receive their budgets from preschool directors, and they may discuss purchases to ensure that they agree that materials or resources are age-appropriate and meet the standards that the preschool director has established for their programs.

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