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Associate of Science (AS): Early Childhood Education Degree Overview

Oct 21, 2019

Associate of Science (AS) programs in early childhood education prepare students to work with children from birth to age eight as teachers or assistant teachers.

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Essential Information

AS programs in early childhood education cover a wide range of topics, such as classroom instruction and child development. Students also learn about cultural differences so they are prepared to work with a diverse population. Most programs include both lecture-based courses and hands-on learning experiences, and students participate in a teaching practicum.

A high school diploma or GED is required for entry into an A.S. program in early childhood education. Professional credentials could be needed to work in this field, depending on the state in which the graduate seeks employment.


Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education

The curriculum stresses coursework in the humanities and social sciences. Topics of study may include:

  • Language and literacy development
  • Exceptional learners
  • Literature for children
  • Early childhood creative arts
  • Math and science in early childhood education
  • Observation and participation

Popular Career Options

An individual with an AS in Early Childhood Education is qualified to work in childcare centers, preschools, Head Start schools, and various other organizations. Some possible careers include:

  • Teacher assistant/aide
  • Childcare center teacher
  • Head Start teacher
  • Nanny

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Preschool teacher employment growth is estimated to be at a rate of 7% during the 2018-2028 decade, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Median annual salaries for preschool teachers (except special educators) were $29,780 in May 2018. The BLS also reports that teacher assistant job growth from 2018-2028 will be at 4%. Median annual earnings for teacher assistants were $26,970 in May 2018.

Continuing Education Information

Many AS programs allow students to transfer their credits to a bachelor's degree in early childhood education. People with bachelor's degrees can pursue master's degrees in early childhood education, which prepare students to design curricula and assume leadership positions in the field.

Each state has different rules and regulations for early childhood educators, which range from a high school diploma to an early childhood education degree, and some states may require a national Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, according to the BLS. The CDA credential is available both to high school students participating in vocational programs in early childhood education and to individuals who can demonstrate competence in the field.

Through interdisciplinary studies in childhood development and basic teaching methods, AS programs in early childhood education provide a general overview of the field. Graduates may need to earn licensure before they can start working with young children, and more advanced degree programs in the subject can improve employment opportunities.

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