Online associate's degree programs in early childhood education are readily available at a variety of community colleges and vocational schools. These programs can prepare graduates for entry-level positions at day care centers, recreation facilities and private homes. All courses may be completed online, but supervised fieldwork is typically required at an approved child care area, such as an internship or student teaching. Students should check with their state regarding licensure requirements, since child care provider requirements may vary by region. For admissions, students will need a high school diploma or GED.
Associate's Degrees in Early Childhood Education
Online associate's degree programs in early childhood education usually include classes in psychology and child development, as well as general education courses. Additionally, students should develop classroom management skills. Typically, all that's necessary for admission to an associate's degree program is a high school diploma or GED.
Information and Requirements
Some associate's degree programs in early childhood education are offered completely online. However, other programs require some degree of observation to support academic theories learned during lectures. Internships or student teaching may be required.
List of Common Online Early Childhood Education Classes
Infants and Toddlers
Students explore the emotional and social progression of infants and toddlers, as well as developmental theories and the importance of milestones. Most classes require students to observe infants and toddlers, in addition to viewing lectures and completing written assignments.
Students consider the breadth of children's literature and the importance of reading in cognitive development. They also might explore the impact of incorporating multicultural literature and the development of writing skills.
In this class, students develop effective classroom management skills to foster an environment conducive to learning. They also learn to tailor classwork to include children at all developmental levels and to interact with parents.
Career Information for Graduates
With an associate's degree in early childhood education, students can pursue careers with preschools, day cares or home-based childcare facilities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment opportunities for preschool teachers could grow by 7% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also projected that, during the same time period, job prospects for childcare workers could rise by 5%. As of May 2015, preschool teachers, with the exception of special education teachers, earned an annual median wage of $28,570, while childcare workers made $20,320.
Continuing Education Information
According to the BLS, the majority of employers seek childcare workers and preschool teachers with some postsecondary experience. Preschool teachers who work in Head Start programs must have a minimum of an associate's degree, and by 2013, at least 50% of Head Start teachers nationwide will need to have a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a similar field, according to the Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov). Preschool teachers who work in public schools generally need at least a bachelor's degree to meet state licensure requirements.
Childcare workers do not need to be licensed; however, some states and many employers require that employees be certified. Two oft-recognized designations are the Council for Professional Recognition's Child Development Associate (CDA) certification and the National Child Care Association's Child Care Professional (CCP) credential. Both require a high school diploma and experience in the child care field.
Associate degree graduates might go on to pursue a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field. This could help them advance in their positions or earn a greater salary. Those who seek administrative positions might need to complete a master's program. Both bachelor's and master's programs are available online, although some are in a hybrid format.
Associate of Early Childhood Education degree programs can be studied fully online. Students will be required to undertake internships under supervision for some courses.