Although some preschool teachers enter the field with only a high school diploma, a program such as the Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education may be preferred. These 2-year programs are comprised of lectures and field work. Students learn teaching approaches for a variety of child care or preschool centers. Like other degrees in the field, instruction in working with preschool children up to the age of five is included.
Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, and an education in English and child development. They must also have satisfactory scores on college admissions examinations. Online courses and programs are available.
Associate's in Early Childhood Education
These programs are designed to give students an understanding of physical, psychological and social development. Students also explore best practices in teaching using that theoretical knowledge. Educators at this level should be able to assess children appropriately and implement educational activities according to their individual needs. Common course topics include:
- Early childhood education theory
- Child observation and assessment
- Literacy development
- Language development
- Health, safety and nutrition
- Early childhood development
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for preschool teachers is expected to increase 7% between 2014 and 2024. The average yearly salary for these professionals was $32,500 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Preschool teachers with an associate's degree in early childhood education may pursue a bachelor's degree in the field, which may lead to positions in management or administration. Additionally, elementary school teachers usually earn a higher salary, so some preschool teachers may pursue a bachelor's degree in elementary education to teach at a different level.
The curriculum of an associate's program in early childhood education includes core courses in the field and practical experiences. Graduates may go on to complete a bachelor's program.