Pre-K Teacher Training and Certification Requirements
Learn about training options for pre-kindergarten teachers. See what degrees are offered, and find out what courses you'd take. Review state licensing and certification requirements for this career.
What You Need to Know
You may select from pre-kindergarten (preK) training programs in early childhood development, early childhood studies or infant and toddler education. Alternatively, you could earn an associate or bachelor's degree in an area of early childhood education. Most of these programs prepare you for professional certification, which is typically required for all pre-school teachers.
|Training||At least an associate's degree; bachelor's degree often required for Head Start or public school teachers|
|Certification||Typically requires completion of specific coursework or a degree program, field experience and a certification exam|
|Online||Hybrid programs are be available|
What Kind of Training Will I Need?
Prospective preK teachers need at least an associate's degree, but some positions (such as a Head Start teacher or a position in a public school) may require you to have a bachelor's degree. You can choose from a variety of degree programs, such as:
- Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Multicultural Education
- Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education
- Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education with a specialization in behavior management
- Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in early childhood education
In most pre-K teacher training programs, you'll take core courses, such as:
- Literacy development
- Young child guidance
- Child assessment
- Program evaluation
- Child health, safety and nutrition
In an associate's degree program, your courses also might include first aid, communicable disease prevention, group infant and toddler care, children's literature, family dynamics and introduction to psychology. As a student in a bachelor's degree program, you might take courses in classroom behavior management, educational psychology, methods for teaching children with special needs and cultural diversity.
Do I Need To Be Licensed and Certified?
The kind of licensing and certification you need depends on the state and setting in which you plan to work. If you want to become a teacher in a public school, you're typically required to have a bachelor's degree as well as a teacher's license. Pre-K teacher training programs prepare you to meet the licensing requirements of the state in which the school is located. After graduating from the program, you'll apply to the state Department of Education, or a similar body, for licensing.
Some states may also require their preK teachers to earn certification, such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. To earn this certification, you must meet specific education and experience requirements, as well as pass an exam.
Can I Study Online?
Many pre-K teacher training programs require you to complete an on-site practicum or supervised student teaching component. You may be able to complete your coursework online if you're currently employed in the field and can fulfill the teaching experience portion at your institution. Some schools offer credit for previous experience through portfolio evaluation.