Certification requirements for preschool teachers vary from state to state. Many require that preschool teachers complete a degree program in order to gain the certification to teach, while others require only a high school degree or GED and completion of a preschool teacher certificate program. An internship may also need to be completed to satisfy certification requirements.
Preschool Teacher Certification Program
The courses in a preschool teacher certificate program focus on both child development and general education. These programs also teach students about basic fundamentals of music, art, reading, physical activities and social skills that can be passed on to preschool-aged children. Some typical course examples include:
- Principles of teaching
- Health and nutrition
- Working with toddlers
- Children with special needs
- Diversity in the classroom
- Stress and education
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
There were approximately 441,000 jobs held by preschool teachers in the United States in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( BLS www.bls.gov). Of these, about 55% worked in child day care services that might require the completion of a certificate program and 17% worked in schools, per the BLS. The expected growth rate for preschool teacher jobs is 7% from 2014 to 2024, which is an average job growth rate (BLS). In 2015, the BLS reported the median wage for a preschool teacher at $28,570 per year.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
All preschool teachers must gain certification before being allowed to teach and look after children aged five and under. Each state has different requirements and standards for certification, ranging from completion of a certificate program to completion of a 4-year undergraduate degree.
Some states only require preschool teachers to have a high school diploma and a national Child Development Associate credential in order to gain certification. For example, in California aspiring teachers must complete at least 24 hours of child development courses, as well as a few general education courses in a certificate program in order to gain a California Child Development Permit. Most states also require that individuals complete some type of supervised internship or practical experience component before gaining certification.
Individuals who wish to continue their education above a preschool teacher certificate program may consider an associate's degree in early childhood education or bachelor's degree programs in child development or early childhood education.
In the quest to become a preschool teacher, prospective teachers must be certified, with requirements varying by state. This field provides a median salary of $28,750 and is expected to have an average job growth rate over the next decade.