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What Jobs Can I Get with an Early Childhood Education Associate Degree?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue with an early childhood education associate degree. Read on to learn more about early childhood education career options, job responsibilities, and salary information.

What Can I Do With an Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education?

Completing an associate's degree program in early childhood education will help you develop the skills and knowledge needed to work with children under the age of five. You'll have learned about managing, supervising, and teaching in a preschool or childcare environment. You'll be trained in child development, child behavior and learning styles. You will be able to manage a group of children and plan a safe environment for them.

An associate's degree in early childhood education is an ideal foundation for a career as a preschool teacher, a preschool or childcare center director, or a childcare provider. Preschool teachers prepare lessons, teach students, plan activities, and monitor student progress. They work with students who are three to five years of age, and they focus on age-appropriate concepts and skills in their planning. They prepare young children to enter kindergarten. Preschool and childcare center directors perform administrative tasks, such as managing the school's budget and purchasing supplies, and they also ensure that their staff is performing their duties as required. Childcare workers maintain a safe space for children, ensure the basic needs of children are met (such as feeding or changing diapers), and manage conflicts between children.

Preschool Teacher Preschool and Childcare Center Director Childcare Worker
Degree Required Associate's degree Associate's degree
Bachelor's degree required in some cases
High school diploma; associate's degree a plus
Education Field of Study Early childhood education Early childhood education None required
Key Responsibilities Manage groups of children; maintain safe and clean spaces; plan curriculum and activities Train staff; resolve conflicts; develop programs; establish program fees; manage budget Supervise children in a safe environment; provide meals; manage conflicts
Licensure/Certification Public school teachers must be licensed Certification may be required Certification required in some states
Job Growth (2018-2028) 7%* 7%* 2%*
Median Salary (2018) $29,780* $47,940* $23,240*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Preschool Teacher

If you choose to work as a preschool teacher, you provide education to children ages 3-5. You might teach in groups or tutor one-on-one. You use teaching strategies designed to capture the attention of the children and keep them interested in learning. Developing the curriculum and designing the teaching methods are among your duties. Your focus will be on teaching children topics relative to their developmental stage. You may work with a child to teach him or her to hold a pencil correctly, encourage creativity through an art project, or introduce your students to games played as a group. These activities help with motor skills, social development, and creative stimulation. You also teach students basic concepts of reading, writing, mathematics and science.

Preschool or Childcare Center Director

As a preschool or childcare center director you are responsible for all aspects of running the school or center, including hiring and managing staff, preparing and following the budget, and overseeing curriculum and activities. You must ensure the facility is clean, safe, and in good working condition. You ensure that staff are qualified and trained, and you will have to address parental concerns and discipline staff if necessary. You must ensure that students are receiving a high-quality educational experience and meeting necessary developmental milestones and benchmarks to be ready for kindergarten.

While in some states a preschool or childcare center director can have just an associate's degree in early childhood education, it is much more common for these individuals to hold a bachelor's degree or higher. Additionally, some years of experience as a preschool teacher are helpful (and often required) before moving into an administrative position.

Childcare Worker

Although a degree in early childhood education is not required for most childcare provider positions, the skills gained from such a program are very helpful in this field of work. If you choose to work in childcare, your main responsibility is to provide supervision of children in a safe environment. You might work in a childcare center or your own home. Childcare doesn't only involve watching over children. Most childcare providers also provide activities for children to help teach them skills. Your duties may also include providing healthy meals, changing diapers, preparing bottles and managing multiple children of different ages at the same time. You ensure that children get along with each other, prevent fighting, and encourage social interaction. You may have to provide special foods for children on restricted diets, handle children with behavioral issues or care for a sick child.

Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual median salary for preschool and childcare center education directors as of May 2018 was $47,940. At this same time, the annual median salary for a preschool teacher was $29,780, and the annual median salary for a childcare worker was $23,240.

What Is A Related Alternative Career?

Teacher assistants, sometimes called paraprofessionals, have many job responsibilities similar to those of preschool teachers. These professionals do not necessarily need an associate's degree in teaching, but typically do complete some post-secondary training. Teacher assistants need to be familiar with developmental milestones for children so that they can identify students who may not have mastered age-appropriate skills or concepts and provide extra assistance to those students. They also help teachers perform administrative tasks and prepare lesson plans.