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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.

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 $34,410 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that the top ten percent of preschool teachers made $55,350 or more each year, while the bottom ten percent of earners took in $20,610 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 $30,050 in May 2018, according to the BLS. Average annual wages for other popular employers included $50,390 for elementary and secondary schools, $34,440 for individual and family services and $40,750 for religious organizations.

State government organizations were the top-paying industry for preschool teachers at $51,340, while elementary and secondary schools came in second. Business, professional, labor, political and similar organizations employed only 120 preschool teachers, but this industry had a high average wage of $43,730. Junior colleges paid $44,470 on average.

Salary by Location

According to May 2018 BLS salary figures, states paying the highest average wages included New York ($48,630), Connecticut ($43,350), the District of Columbia ($42,060), New Jersey ($40,880) and Hawaii ($39,560). The lowest-paid preschool teachers in the country made average salaries of $22,390-$28,940, and they worked in states that included North Dakota, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Alabama, and North and South Carolina.

California, New York, Florida, Illinois and Texas had high preschool teacher employment levels in May 2018. Average wages were $37,850 in California, $27,990 in Florida, $31,500 in Illinois and $34,960 in Texas.

Salary by Credential

July 2019 salary data from PayScale.com showed that preschool teacher wages varied by certification and degree level. While those with an associate's degree in early childhood education earned a median hourly wage of $13, teachers with a bachelor's degree made a median wage of $14 an hour. Those with teacher certification made a median wage of $17.00 an hour. Those with the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential made $12.00 an hour.

Job Outlook

The BLS reported that preschool teaching positions were expected to grow 10% from 2016-2026. 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.