Preschool is one of the fastest growing facets of education in the United States because of the growing population of young children. Therefore, openings for preschool teachers are likely to increase over the course of the next several years. If you enjoy working with very young children and have the patience, understanding, and energy to commit to a young child's education, this is a job might be right for you.
In the US, most states require candidates who want to become preschool teachers to hold at least an associate's degree, but some states require a bachelor's degree. Either way, you will need to take some higher education classes, particularly in psychology, education, curriculum, child development, and classroom management. These classes and more will be instrumental in helping you understand proven methods for teaching young children to appropriately interact in social settings and to begin to develop the fundamentals of learning.
Many preschool teachers begin their careers as assistant teachers, thereby allowing them the opportunity to shadow other, more experienced teachers and to gain their own experience working with a young population of students. By starting at the assistant teacher level, a preschool teacher can work his or her way up to being a regular or lead teacher. In addition to experience and education, a teacher will often be expected to get CPR and first-aid certified to ensure safety in the classroom should an emergency arise. He or she will also be responsible for getting fingerprinted and submitting those fingerprints to the local school district, as well as submitting to a criminal background check.
If you are considering a career as a preschool teacher, be sure to consider several factors that will affect your performance: first, the pay scale may be somewhat low. The pay is often less than $20 US Dollars an hour, which is why some people only teach part time. Further, you must be excited to work with young children. High energy and patience are key to becoming a successful teacher, and without these attributes, you may become tired, stressed, or frustrated working with such a young population.
Several colleges offer coursework and degree programs to become a preschool teacher. Online schools and community colleges are also a good option for earning the college credits you will need, and these institutions will often work around your schedule to allow you flexible options for completing the coursework.