How to Become a Child Development Teacher: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a child development teacher. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in early childhood education. View article »

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  • 0:36 Career Requirements
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Video Transcript

What Is a Child Development Teacher?

Child development teachers, also known as childcare teachers, are responsible for sparking creativity within their young students. They help to build the foundation for a strong education through play and formal teaching. Working with young children on daily basis may become stressful or tiring for some individuals. Some teachers may also work long or irregular hours. Full-time work is available. Education and training requirements vary, ranging from a high school diploma to formal early childhood education and certification programs.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Varies; postsecondary education common
Degree Field Early childhood education or early childhood development
Experience Varies, can range from six months to several years teaching experience; some employers prefer CPR and first aid certification
Licensure or Certification Many states require the Child Development Associate (CDA) certification; the Child Care Professional (CCP) designation is also accepted in some states
Key Skills Patience; instructional skills; verbal and written communication skills; Microsoft Excel, data entry software, and children's educational software knowledge
Salary $28,570 (average for preschool teachers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ONET Online.

Step 1: Meet Educational Requirements

Child development teachers are generally required to have at least a high school diploma or GED. However, some employers may prefer candidates who have earned college credits in early childhood education. Beginning in 2013, Head Start teachers are required to seek child development certification or an associate's degree in early childhood education. Early childhood education degree programs cover topics such as child development and creative activities for young children.

Many employers look for applicants who have experience working with children. To gain experience, students may consider internship or volunteer opportunities at daycare centers, schools, or in similar environments. It is also recommended that students complete a CPR or first aid certification course. These courses are offered at community colleges, training centers, and online.

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Step 2: Get On-the-Job Training

Some state agencies and childcare facilities offer on-the-job training in child and toddler care. Trainees learn about intellectual development, emotional growth, and culture. Participants view videos and training manuals that are based on the most recent theories and research in child development.

Step 3: Obtain Certification

Some states and employers require certification. The Child Development Associate (CDA) assessment is a nationally recognized certification administered by the Council for Professional Recognition. To qualify for a CDA assessment, candidates must meet formal training and experience requirements. The Child Care Professional (CCP) certification is recognized by some states.

It is important for child development teachers to keep their certification current. CDA credentials must be renewed on a continuous basis. Some of the renewal requirements include earning continuing education credits and obtaining a designated amount of work experience.

Step 4: Be an Elementary Education Teacher

Child development teachers who want to work with older children and potentially increase their pay may consider earning a bachelor's degree in elementary education. This is the standard credential needed to qualify for elementary teaching licensure, which is required in all public schools.

Child development teachers most often have degrees in early childhood education, experience working with children, and CPR and first aid certification. Childcare teachers may gain experience through volunteer work and may continue their education through on-the-job training.

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