How Much Do Preschool Teachers Make?

Do you enjoy being around young children? Are you a patient person and a natural leader? Read on to learn how much preschool teachers earn and what factors affect their wages. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

As a preschool teacher, you'll help educate and watch over children who are 3-5 years old. You'll be expected to interact with an entire classroom at one time, but when necessary, you'll give individual attention to each student.

Your end goal is to prepare your students to enter kindergarten. To do this, you need to create appropriate curricula that will help the students grow intellectually and socially. Along with social and emotional development, you'll also work to help them refine their motor skills and speech. Other topics you might cover include science, social studies, creative arts and reading. You'll be the first school-affiliated representative to go over these topics with students, so you'll provide a crucial role in their development.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Required Education High school diploma, postsecondary education may be preferred (in childcare centers); associate's or bachelor's degree required depending on program (for Head Start)
Licensure Must be licensed to teach at a public school
Professional Certification Some states require Child Development Associate certification (Council for Professional Recognition) or Child Care Professional certification (National Early Childhood Program Accreditation)
Key Skills Organizational, interpersonal, and communication skills; creativity, physical stamina, and patience
Similar Occupations Childcare worker, kindergarten teacher, teacher assistant, preschool director

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), preschool teachers (except special education teachers) earned a mean annual income of $32,040 as of May 2014 ( The BLS reported that the top ten percent of preschool teachers made $50,880 or more each year, while the bottom ten percent of earners took in $18,680 or less annually.

Salary by Industry

The industry that employed the greatest number of preschool teachers was day care services, which had an annual mean wage of $27,720 in May 2014, according to the BLS. Average annual wages for other popular employers included $45,550 for elementary and secondary schools, $32,420 for individual and family services and $32,140 for religious organizations.

Elementary schools were the top-paying industry for preschool teachers, while residential facilities focused on intellectual and developmental disability, mental health and substance abuse came in second with an annual average wage of $44,100. Offices of other health practitioners employed only 130 preschool teachers, but this industry had a high average wage of $40,840. Educational support services paid $42,370 on average.

Salary by Location

According to May 2014 BLS salary figures, states paying the highest average wages included New York ($42,190), New Jersey ($38,210), Alaska ($38,020), Kentucky ($37,670) and Massachusetts ($36,240). The lowest-paid preschool teachers in the country made average salaries of $24,440-$27,060, and they worked in states that included Montana, Ohio, North Carolina, Utah and Mississippi.

California, New York, Florida, Illinois and Texas had high preschool teacher employment levels in May 2014. Average wages were $34,070 in California, $26,180 in Florida, $30,510 in Illinois and $35,350 in Texas.

Salary by Credential

November 2015 salary data from showed that preschool teacher wages varied by certification and degree level. While those with an associate's degree in early childhood education earned $9.31-$16.31 an hour, teachers with a bachelor's degree made a median wage of $15.48 an hour. Those with teacher certification made a median wage $12.56 an hour. Those with the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential made $9.11 - $15.67 an hour.

Job Outlook

The BLS reported that preschool teaching positions were expected to grow 17% from 2012-2022. An increase in preschool-aged children was anticipated to contribute to this faster-than-average growth of jobs over the 10-year period. A bachelor's degree may lead to better job prospects, according to the BLS, and having certification can also be beneficial.

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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