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Southern New Hampshire University

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Liberty University

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Purdue University Global

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Bryant & Stratton College

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How to Become a Lead Teacher in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a lead teacher. Learn about the job duties, education requirements, licensure and job outlook to find out if this career is right for you.

What Is a Lead Teacher?

Lead teachers are the important link between a team of preschool teachers and its administrators. They help develop and foster an atmosphere of teamwork within their preschools and their communities. Like any other teacher they also need to be able to work with students, teaching them social skills, conducting age appropriate lessons, enforcing classroom rules and supervising young children to make sure they stay safe. The table below lists the general requirements for a career in this field.

Degree RequiredBachelor's in education-related field, master's degree may be required in some states
LicensureTeaching license improves marketability
CertificationOptional through National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Key ResponsibilitiesAct as liaison between parents, workers and administration
Oversee staff meetings
Keep staff updated on policy and regulation changes
Hire new staff
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 7% (for preschool teachers)*
Median Salary (2018)$29,780 (for preschool teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Lead Teachers Do

Working as a liaison between colleagues, school administrators, students and parents, as a lead teacher, you may oversee staff meetings and organize professional development opportunities. You may be responsible for keeping your team members informed about new policies and other school-related developments. You also serve as a mentor to your peers. You may help new teachers plan lessons or become involved in the hiring of new team members.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Graduate from a 4-year college or university with a teacher education program approved by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. Such programs focus on child development, teaching styles, assessment, teaching through play and curriculum building.

Step 2: Gain Experience

During a bachelor's degree program, you typically take part in a teaching practicum. If you choose to seek teaching licensure, this is generally a requirement in every state. A teaching practicum allows you to work with real students in a teaching environment. You aid licensed teachers with projects, develop a curriculum and fulfill any other requirements necessary for licensure.

Step 2: Obtain Your Teaching License

To work in a preschool, there are no licensing requirements; however, seeking teaching credentials can improve your marketability, show your dedication to the development of children and lead to more job opportunities. Information on licensure requirements can be found on your state's Department of Education website.

Step 4: Earn Your Master's Degree

You need a few years of experience to become a lead teacher. You should teach while pursuing your master's degree to fulfill two requirements for this career at once. There are many master's degree options, such as a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction or a Master of Science in Teacher Leadership. Either degree can improve your opportunity for career advancement and may be necessary for some states' licensing requirements.

Step 5: Earn Your National Certification

Consider earning voluntary certification in early childhood education and care through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. To be eligible, you must have at least a bachelor's degree, a valid teaching license and three years or more of teaching experience. Completion of the certification process, including an assessment test, may take up to three years.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Two of the closest related careers to lead teaching is that of the preschool teachers that work under lead teachers and the administration that works above them. While preschool teachers can get by with just an associate's degree, lead teachers wanting to become administrators usually need to pursue a master's degree in education. Some other careers related to that of a lead teacher include special education instruction and school counseling. Special education teachers work with students with special needs, helping them overcome physical and mental disabilities. School counselors may work with school administration and teachers to create education plans for students that will prepare them for their future. While the basic academic requirement for special ed teachers is a bachelor's degree, a master's degree is required for most school counselors.