Although diploma programs are not typically found at vocational schools, they are commonly found at community colleges and technical schools. A diploma in early childhood development, early childhood care and education or early childhood education can equip students with the knowledge to start a career working with young children. Through training in topics like forms of active play and nutrition, students can learn to create a safe and mentally stimulating environment for preschool-age children.
Completing these programs can usually be accomplished in one to two semesters. For acceptance into a diploma program, would-be students must usually have completed high school. After these programs, students may opt to advance their career and pursue an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree in a related field.
Diplomas in Early Childhood Education
The curriculum in these programs focuses on the rapid growth, development and needs of children during the first years of their lives. Courses inform students how to effectively and compassionately care for young children. These courses include topics in:
- Child growth and development
- Health, safety and nutrition
- Child, family and community
- Child psychology
- Educational technology
Popular Career Choices
Upon completion of an early childhood education diploma program, jobs can be attained at childcare centers, preschools, camps, Head Start programs, recreation centers and a variety of other educational programs. Such career options include:
- Childcare worker
- Teacher assistant
- Preschool teacher
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a job growth of 2% for childcare workers over the 2018-2028 decade, and it reported in May 2018 that the median salary for these workers was $23,240 (www.bls.gov). A 7% job growth is expected for preschool teachers from 2018-2028, and their median wage in May 2018 was $29,780. Teacher assistants are expected to have a job growth of 4% over the 2018-2028 decade, and they earned a median wage of $26,970 in May 2018.
Continuing Education and Advancement
According to the BLS, the requirements to work with preschool aged children vary from state to state. In some cases, all that is needed is a high school diploma and some experience working with children. Other states require a college degree.
There is a lot of room to move upwards both educationally and career-wise in the early childhood education field. With an associate's degree, graduates are able to secure jobs with greater responsibilities, such as site supervisor. Beyond that, students can earn bachelor's degrees or a Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in early childhood education.
While vocational school diploma programs in early childhood education are rare, technical schools and community colleges typically offer diploma programs in early childhood education. Depending on the state they are in, these programs may prepare students for employment as childcare workers, teacher assistants or preschool teachers.