Are you considering a career in early childhood education? Very few things compare to the satisfaction of nurturing a young child through these impressionable years, which makes it such a rewarding career path. Here are a few educational avenues you can take. But check your home state for specifics, as each state has its own requirements for future teachers.
If you are simply looking for an entry-level assistant position at a preschool or daycare, you can sign up for a certificate program. These programs do not take long to finish and they introduce students to the basics of child development.
Associate’s Degree Programs
Associate’s degrees are two year programs that go into more detail than certificate programs. Besides the courses in childhood education that are required, there will be general liberal arts and science courses involved as well. When you graduate with an Associate’s degree, you can apply for teaching positions at preschools and daycare centers. There are some Associate’s programs that offer an emphasis on daycare.
Additional College Degrees
Many colleges and universities offer programs in early childhood education. There are undergraduate degrees, or four year programs, and if you want (or need) to take your education further, there are graduate degree programs in the subject. Graduate degree programs are usually for two years, depending on the workload you are able to take on.
You will most likely need a Bachelor’s degree if you want to become a lead teacher in early childhood education. If you get a Bachelors degree, you will learn about instructional methods, classroom management skills, and literacy education. Some programs will have specialized courses focused on preschool.
If you have higher aspirations within the early childhood education arena, you will need to consider a Master’s degree. This higher level of education prepares you to be a daycare administrator, supervisor, or special education specialist. You can also teach other aspiring teachers at a higher education institution with a Master’s degree.
While this is a rare educational pursuit, some ambitious educational students will want to pursue a Doctoral degree. This high level of education prepares you not just to be a teacher at an institution of higher learning, but you can become involved in educational research or develop curriculum.
If you’re not sure where to start looking for a school to start your early childhood education, there is an easy place to start. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education sets the national standards for programs in early childhood education. You can visit their website to search for accredited early childhood education programs in your area.