Preschool Teacher: Career Profile, Job Outlook, and Educational Requirements
Would you like to provide instruction to children at the pre-kindergarten level? As a preschool teacher, your influence could help children build social skills and cognitive abilities during key years in their development. Plus, preschool teachers should enjoy strong job prospects in the coming years. Keep reading to find out about having a career as a preschool teacher. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Preschool Teacher Career Profile
Preschool teachers typically work for privately owned childcare centers, publicly funded daycare centers or religious organizations. As a preschool teacher, you might also be self-employed and run your own center. You'll be responsible for engaging young children in fun activities that build basic social skills while encouraging intellectual and emotional growth. These activities may include group play, singing, arts and crafts, sharing, nature lessons, word games, number recognition, dancing and storytelling. It's possible to work either full- or part-time hours, and unlike kindergarten through secondary school teachers, you'll most likely work throughout the entire calendar year.
Job Outlook for Preschool Teachers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for preschool teachers was projected to grow by 19% from 2008-2018, which was substantially faster than the average growth for all occupations during that time period (www.bls.gov). The total number of preschool teaching jobs was set to grow from 457,200 to 543,900. This increase in jobs was to be spurred by growing preschool enrollment and by the expansion of publicly funded preschool education programs in many states.
As of May 2009, the median annual salary for preschool teachers in the United States was $24,540, according to the BLS. Preschool teachers in the top 10% earned over $43,570, while those in the lower 10% earned under $16,420. A variety of factors affect what you can expect to make, including your experience in the field, level of education and where you work. For example, in North Carolina, the annual mean wage for preschool teachers was $22,530 in 2009, while in New Jersey it was $33,770.
Educational Requirements for Preschool Teachers
Requirements for becoming a preschool teacher vary by type of employer and by state. As a public preschool teacher, you may need to have an associate's or bachelor's degree in early childhood education. Some states may require you to hold national certification. The Council for Professional Recognition offers the Child Development Associate certification (www.cdacouncil.org). To apply for this certification, you must have 480 hours of work experience with children within the last five years and 120 hours of formal education in child development and child care.
However, as a private preschool teacher you may not need a degree or certification at all. It depends entirely upon the requirements of the employer for whom you wish to work. In most cases, however, you'll be expected to have prior experience working with young children to become preschool teacher.
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