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Preschool Director Certification

As a preschool director, you'll be responsible for managing early childhood education staff and directing the daily activities of a preschool. Read on for information about state and national certifications and career information for preschool directors.

What Kind of Preschool Director Certifications Can I Earn?

Many states require certification for early childhood education professionals, including preschool directors, and each state sets its own certification or licensure requirements. Whether you need certification or not, most states require a license or other minimum qualifications. As with certification, licensing requirements vary by state. For example, the state of California requires that directors in a publicly funded preschool maintain a Child Development Program Director Permit.

Certification PrerequisitesTeaching experience and student-teacher experience
Job QualificationsBachelor's degree or certification, along with passing a state administered exam
Common CoursesSocial work, child psychology, language development, learning activities for preschoolers and child observation
Job Outlook (2018-2028)7% growth
Median Salary (2018)$47,940 (preschool and childcare centers directors)

Source: U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Some states may also have voluntary certification programs for preschool directors, such as the the Illinois Director Credential. You may also choose to earn the voluntary nationwide Child Development Associate (CDA) credential for preschool workers.

As with other education administrative positions, you can become a preschool director once you've acquired teaching experience, which often requires its own certification and state licensure. You might also need to complete a student-teacher experience before you can receive teacher certification.

What Do I Need to Work in This Field?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), educational and professional qualifications of preschool directors and other early childhood education administrators vary depending on the size of the school and jurisdiction (www.bls.gov). In a publicly funded preschool, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree. In a private school, you might be able to work as a preschool director with only a certificate. You can also become a preschool director after you've acquired experience as a school administrator with other age groups.

You can usually complete state requirements for certification after you've earned a bachelor's degree in teaching, early childhood education or a similar field. Certification is usually awarded after you pass a state exam covering your understanding of English, social studies, math and science instruction. The CDA preschool credential requires education, documented experience with 3- to 5-year-olds and formal observation in a preschool environment, as well as an exam.

Programs designed to train preschool directors usually look for students with a background in early childhood education, early childhood special education or child development. In some cases, you might need to show that you've completed courses in child psychology, early childhood development, nutrition or educational administration. If you're looking for a certificate to prepare you to become a preschool director with or without certification, you may enroll in a child development certificate program.

What Do Certification and Certificate Program Cover?

In a certificate program, you'll learn about the social work, child psychology and curricular development aspects of running a preschool. You'll also learn how to work with families to make sure that their children are prepared to enter kindergarten. Other coursework will cover language development, learning activities for preschoolers and child observation. The exam to earn a CDA credential covers your knowledge of similar topics.

What About Earnings and Demand?

According to the BLS, education administrators in preschools and early childcare facilities received median earnings of $47,940 in 2018. The BLS also reported that the number of available positions was expected rise 7% in the 2018-2028 decade.