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Louisiana Head Start Teacher Requirements

Head Start teachers help educate young children from low-income families. Find out how you can become a teacher in the Head Start program, including the necessary degree and testing requirements.

Overview of Requirements for Louisiana Head Start Teachers

Head Start teachers have requirements set forth by the United States federal government as well as the state of Louisiana. You'll need at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited university with a focus on an area like early childhood education, and you'll need to successfully pass several exams. You'll also get to spend time in a classroom with supervision before becoming a teacher on your own. Head Start teachers in Louisiana will need to decide between two certification levels. You could choose certification for birth-kindergarten age or pre-kindergarten through third grade.

Education/Experience RequiredBachelor's degree with early childhood courses; teacher education program
Exams RequiredPraxis Core Academic Skills for Educators; Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood; Praxis content exams
Certification ValidityFive years for initial certificate
Average Louisiana Salary* (2018)$32,290 for preschool teachers
Job Growth* (2016-2026)10% for preschool teachers (nationwide)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Overview

Head Start teachers are responsible for helping young students (pre-kindergarten) from low-income families begin their education through a special program funded by the federal government. You'll plan and coordinate activities for each day that address the emotional, educational, and nutritional needs of your students. You'll sit with children at meal times and oversee their activities when they are in a classroom setting. You'll also supervise a teacher assistant and several child care workers who will be assigned to your classroom. You'll keep detailed logs in your reports from parent-teacher conferences and evaluations from in-home visits with families. If any additional supplies are necessary for your class, you'll be responsible for ordering these and ensuring the safety of your students throughout the school year.

Education and Training Requirements

Because Head Start is designed for pre-kindergarten students, your education should focus on early childhood. You'll need an undergraduate degree either in the subject or complete a sufficient number of credits in early childhood topics. You could earn a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, Grades PK-3. This degree allows you to learn about the social and emotional needs of young students, and you'll learn details related to lesson planning. During your time earning a degree, you'll have the chance to teach in a supervised setting. This classroom experience is essential to becoming a certified teacher. Some of your course topics could include child psychology, foundations in inclusive education, or teaching in diverse societies.

Exam Requirements

All Louisiana educators, need to fulfill Praxis Exam obligations. You'll start by taking the Core Academic Skills for Educators test, which contains three subtests. You can take the Mathematics, Writing, and Reading sections all in a single session, or break them into multiple appointments. Early childhood teachers will also take the Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood exam.

Those focusing on Birth-Kindergarten certification will also take one of the following exams: Early Childhood Education, Pre-Kindergarten Education, or Education of Young Children. For Early Childhood PreK-3 certification, you'll take the Elementary Subjects test, which includes four different subtests.

Other Requirements

For Head Start teachers, a criminal background check is required before employment will be considered. You'll need to undergo an additional written test and evaluation of your previous experience in early childhood education, both of which will be given equal merit when your application is reviewed. If you speak multiple languages, you might be asked to do an oral interview in front of a panel. Your work experience can come from student teaching, internships, and any previous time you have spent in childcare for students in this age range.