If you enjoy working with young children and are interested in molding the minds of the future, a degree in early childhood education may be for you. To teach early childhood education, you'll need a degree and a license. Read on to find the education requirements for this career.
A bachelor's degree in early childhood education (ECE) can prepare you to teach academics in preschool and lower elementary school grades. The National Association for the Education of Young Children defines ECE as teaching children from birth up to eight years of age (www.naeyc.org).
As an ECE student, you'll fulfill the standard general education requirements for a bachelor's degree and take courses in core academics, such as child development and ECE philosophy. You can also take courses in educational psychology, diversity training, child health, teaching technology and teacher methodology. Other common course topics include children's literature, learning disabilities and classroom management. You can expect to perform clinical studies, comprised of classroom observation hours and student teaching practicums.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that ECE teachers plan, present and assign lessons on fundamentals such as reading, writing and basic arithmetic. Most ECE teachers have a core class in which they instruct in all or most subjects. Some ECE teachers specialize in an elective area such as art, music or physical education and rotate through classes for short periods throughout the day or week. Some of these teachers, such as kindergarten teachers, work part-time (www.bls.gov).
In May 2010, the BLS reported earnings for elementary teachers to be $34,390-$80,140. The median income was $51,660. During that same time period, kindergarten teachers earned a median annual salary of $48,800.
'!!How Can I Become an ECE Teacher?
The exact steps to becoming a teacher vary by state, and are subject to changes in state and federal legislation. Overall, to teach in a U.S. public school, you must have a bachelor's degree, preferably in education, and be licensed by the state in which you wish to teach. NCATE, also known as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, accredits teacher education programs.
The BLS reports that graduating from an accredited school could be a requirement for licensure. NCATE accredits 656 institutions, some of which have online education programs. NCATE also mandates that you maintain your license by continued professional development courses or activities throughout your career.
If you have a degree in a field other than education or are licensed in another state, you must enroll in your state's Alternative Teacher Certification Program (ATCP).
ATCP's allow non-majors or out-of-state teachers to earn a teaching license by completing comparable coursework, state testing and clinical studies. An ATCP can take from one semester to two years and could require payment of fees. Some school districts could help you obtain an emergency license, allowing you to teach while you complete the requirements. Private schools do not have to require teachers to be certified, but they may prefer degreed candidates.