Early childhood education bachelor's degree programs prepare students to become professional teachers and mentors to children ages birth through third grade. Prospective teachers develop primary knowledge of curriculum development and teaching methodologies, and they learn to identify and instruct students with special needs. They are trained to promote positive relationships with families and students in diverse communities. Undergraduates gain practical experience working with and observing infants, toddlers and preschoolers through on-site labs. The program culminates in a supervised internship and capstone project.
Admission requirements may vary by institution. In general, applicants must have a high-school diploma or equivalent and meet minimum college admission test scores and GPA requirements. In addition to general admission requirements enforced by the university, a student may also need to meet specific requirements for entry into a school's education program.
Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education
In order to prepare students to become professional teachers, the curriculum in an early childhood education program covers a broad spectrum of both general education and major-specific courses. Students will cover general coursework in English, math, social studies and humanities. In classes specific to their early childhood education major, students will also learn pedagogical theories and techniques, and health and family topics, including the following:
- Child development
- Children, families and societies
- Language and literacy development
- Exploring teaching and learning
- Classroom management
- Early childhood education assessment
Popular Career Options
Bachelor's degree holders have the practical knowledge and skills to work with young children in a variety of Head Start programs, day care centers and elementary schools. Typical professional careers for early childhood educators may include:
- Head Start teacher
- Preschool teacher
- Day care center specialist
- Kindergarten teacher
- Educational assistant
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that kindergarten and elementary school teaching positions are predicted to increase 6% from 2014-2024. The job outlook was best in rural and urban areas. In May 2015, kindergarten teachers made a mean yearly salary of $54,510, while elementary school teachers earned $57,730, according to the BLS.
Professional Certification and Continuing Education Information
Certification requirements for pre-kindergarten and Head Start teachers vary across states. Kindergarten and elementary teachers in public schools are required to pass a state certification exam. To be eligible for the exam, teachers must hold a bachelor's degree and have relevant teaching experience. Graduates may also choose to advance their careers through the expertise and practical knowledge found in a master's degree program.
Individuals interested in a bachelor's degree in early childhood education will take a wide array of general education and early childhood-specific coursework, as well as spend time in the field. Certification requirements vary by state. Teachers may find work in schools, day care facilities and other environments.