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How can I Prepare for a Career in Early Childhood Education?

Individuals must obtain the proper training and credentials to teach.
Student teaching is an important step in preparing for a career in early childhood education.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2014
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Preparation for a career in early childhood education should begin with a little soul searching. Take some time to consider your strengths and weakness and use this knowledge to determine the types of jobs that might be best for you. In general, success in this career requires a good understanding of child development, patience, creativity, problem-solving ability, and excellent interpersonal skills.

There are many ways to pursue a career in early childhood education, including teaching and providing daycare. There are even early childhood education jobs that involve working with other adults in the field instead of with children. You could begin a career with teaching or caregiving and move up, if you wish, to a more managerial position.

Thanks to the power of the Internet, there are numerous job boards, career guides, and profession-specific resources to be found online. Take advantage of such sites to learn more about early childhood education careers and to determine which jobs you feel the most suited to. This can help you to determine the type of education and training you need.

If you plan to begin your career in early childhood education as a teacher, you will most likely need a degree. In the United States, public school early childhood educators must possess a teaching license. Many states require teachers at this level to have bachelor’s degrees, while other states require only associate’s degrees. Private schools in most states, however, can make their own requirements for teachers and may not always require degrees or licensure.

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In some states, preschool teachers within the public school system may be required to posses associate’s degrees or a bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education or a related field. In other states, a certificate or diploma from an accredited early childhood education training program may be acceptable. Private school requirements tend to be less strict. However, many prefer to hire teachers with degrees as well.

If you decide to begin your career as a teaching assistant, a degree may not be required. In some states, a high school diploma is all that is necessary to obtain such a job. In others, some college, a certificate from a teaching assistant program, or an associate’s degree may be required.

Higher-level positions, such as school principal, may require a master’s degree or higher. As such, it is wise to obtain as much education as possible. Furthermore, many individuals begin education careers with advanced degrees. Earning a higher-level degree may help you to compete for the best jobs.

Requirements are different for those planning to run or work in family daycare homes or daycare centers. Requirements vary by state, and many states require family daycare homes and group daycare centers to obtain facility licensing. Usually, family daycare workers are not required to possess degrees. Though the same often applies for daycare centers, educational requirements are sometimes more strict for those working in daycare centers as opposed to family daycare homes. Keep in mind, however, that some states require daycare center directors to have bachelor’s degrees at a minimum. It is worth noting that daycare owners may impose educational requirements not regulated by state laws.

If you are planning to start your career in early childhood education as a preschool teacher, teaching assistant, or daycare worker, you may want to look into obtaining the Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate. This certificate can be obtained from a nationally accredited early childhood education program and is granted based on classroom training in the field, experience with children, and an evaluation of competency. Many employers are willing to accept the CDA credential for those seeking employment at the entry-level daycare or preschool level.

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Discuss this Article

icecream17
Post 2

Sunny 27-I agree a strong understanding of child psychology is a must. Many people are drawn to the field of early childhood education, but not all are qualified.

Some teachers work better with older students. A young child needs a lot of repetitive direction, while older students don’t. Also young children are also learning social skills while older students usually understand classroom etiquette.

An early childhood educator really needs to understand children well before considering this profession. I wish my Kindergarten teacher had listen to this advice. I would have had a more pleasant experience as a result.

Sunny27
Post 1

Great article, but I want to add that anyone considering a career in early childhood education should work in a daycare for a few years while obtaining their degree.

An early childhood educator needs to be able to interact with young children well at all levels. Not everyone has the capacity to work in this field. An educator needs to understand children and develop compassion for them as well.

People with a short fuse that want to control their circumstances would not work well in this field because children can be unpredictable and the right educator needs to adjust accordingly.

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