Associate's degree programs in early childhood education usually consist of courses in child development, psychology and teaching, as well as general education courses in English composition, mathematics and social studies. Lab courses, where students have a chance to work with children, are a major component of these programs.
Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Education
An associate's degree program in early childhood education prepares students for day care teaching careers. Coursework teaches students how children develop and learn, while providing a foundation for the technical, health and character standards expected in the industry. Several postsecondary institutions, including community colleges, universities and colleges, offer early education associate's degree programs. Some programs include practical field experiences through internships, practicums or service-learning experiences. Coursework may include the following topics:
- Curriculum development
- Childhood growth and development
- Classroom management
- Behavioral guidance and psychology
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Preschool teachers are predicted to see a 7% employment increase, while day care workers may see a 2% employment growth, according to 2018-2028 projections from the BLS. Both of these projections are average compared to all other occupations. As of May 2018, day care workers earned a median salary of $23,240, while preschool teachers earned a median salary of $29,780.
Each state sets its own licensing requirements for day care teachers, which depends on the work setting, but typically includes minimum education standards. The Council for Professional Recognition confers the Child Development Associates credential. The certification validates knowledge and skills in the planning and development of a safe environment, behavior observation and social and emotional support in children. Applicants must have sufficient training in early childhood education, classroom observation experience and meet language fluency requirements; renewal is required after the first three years and then every five years after the first renewal.
Advanced degrees in early childhood education are also available at the baccalaureate and graduate levels. In a bachelor's degree program, students participate in more advanced coursework in child development and teaching methods as well as complete a student-teaching experience. Master's programs incorporate relevant research and may be suited for teachers seeking advanced positions. Doctor of Education degree programs may include an early childhood education concentration and are often appropriate for individuals seeking research or university-level teaching positions.
An early childhood education associate's program consists of general education courses and hands-on sessions working with children. Graduates of these programs may be prepared for professional child development certification. Graduates may also consider pursuing bachelor's degrees in education, which can lead to new career opportunities.