Associate of Early Childhood Education (AECE): Degree Overview

Students who want to study early childhood education can earn an Associate of Science (AS), Associate of Applied Science (AAS) or Associate of Arts (AA) degree in the field. Find out if these programs meet your educational needs.

Essential Information

In an associate of early childhood education program, students learn how to communicate with and teach young children. Practical experience in a classroom or childcare setting is required by some schools.

A high school education is typically mandatory for admission. Upon graduation, students can acquire entry-level childcare positions or continue their studies in baccalaureate and graduate programs. Licensure may be required before starting work in this field.

Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education

While enrolled in the program, students take courses that are grounded in liberal arts and child development. Students learn to help children develop their social, emotional, cognitive and motor skills by taking courses in psychology, sociology, child development and the following:

  • Nutrition and safety
  • Early childhood communication
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Observation and assessment
  • Leadership
  • Infant development

Career Options

Graduates can get jobs in several different settings, including daycares, preschools and childcare organizations. Some career options are:

  • Teacher's assistant
  • Daycare director
  • Group childcare worker
  • Family childcare worker

Job and Salary Information

Jobs for teacher's assistants are predicted to increase 6% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( The agency, also known as the BLS, reported that the median salary earned by teacher's assistants was $24,900 in 2015. Preschool director jobs are expected to grow 7% during that same decade, according to the BLS. Preschool directors, also known as education administrators, earned a median salary of $45,670 in 2015. The BLS reported that childcare workers can expect job growth of 5% from 2014-2024, and that the median salary for this job was $20,320 in 2015.

Licensure and Continuing Education Information

The BLS reported that states require childcare workers who care for a certain number of children to obtain licensure ( To take licensure exams, aspiring workers may need to meet education requirements, age constraints, experience requirements and participate in safety training. However, family childcare workers who only care for a few children are not obligated to become licensed in most states, but they may be monitored by local governments through home safety checks and background investigations.

Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees are also available in early childhood education. A bachelor's degree typically requires an additional two years of full-time study after earning an associate's degree; master's and doctoral degrees require an additional 2-5 years after earning a bachelor's degree.

For students who want to dedicate their careers to childcare, enrolling in an AS, AAS, or AA degree program can provide relevant training in child development alongside more general studies.

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