|Program Levels||Certificate programs; add-on license for bachelor degree holders; post-master endorsement for pre-K through grade 3|
|Field(s) of Study||Early childhood development or early childhood education|
|Prerequisites||High school diploma or equivalent for Childhood Development certificate; bachelor's degree for add-on licensure; master's degree for endorsement|
|Online Availability||Hybrid and full online programs are available depending on the degree level|
|Program Length||Varies based on degree level: CDA requires 120 hours (plus 26 quarter hours for those new to preschool education); master's endorsement requires 13 graduate credit hours|
|Licensure/Certification||Varies by state and position; public schools require state licensure; voluntary certification available|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||7% growth|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)||$28,570|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Preschool teachers work with children ages 3-5 in daycare centers, public or private schools, or in government programs such as Head Start. Training and certificate programs for becoming a preschool teacher may vary with just a few courses required for entry-level workers at a daycare center to post-master's degree certificate programs.
The work of a preschool teacher combines child care with early learning experiences, and training programs offer instruction in all these areas. Some programs can be completed entirely online, while others require internships in preschool classrooms.
Training and Certification
Some online training and certification options include an online college child development associate (CDA) certificate program, which is eligible for college credit; a preschool add-on license program for those who already have a bachelor's degree; and a post-master's preschool through grade 3 endorsement. Prerequisites for these options depend upon the level of education, but may require a letter of intent, written proof of a high school diploma or its equivalent, current teacher certification and employment in a teaching environment. Participants must be 18 years or older.
Program Length and Requirements
The length of these programs depends on the certification or training chosen. For example, the online CDA certificate program requires 120 hours of study with an option of 26 additional quarter credit hours for those new to preschool education. In contrast, the post-master's endorsement program requires just 13 credit hours and four courses to complete.
In order to participate in online programs, participants must have access to a computer and printer, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and an e-mail account. Some schools also have specific software and web browser requirements.
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Coursework in online preschool teaching training or certification programs varies by the chosen level of education. Topics common to most of the online offerings include early childhood development, curriculum, learning and literacy. Some programs also include a practical requirement in specific early childhood settings.
Education and Development in Young Children:
Early childhood assessment methods and early intervention techniques are studied in this course. The curriculum emphasizes current developmental theory and appropriate practices.
Early Childhood Curriculum, Methods and Materials:
Students in this class learn to use appropriate materials and learning techniques for preschool children. The course also focuses on developing a preschool learning environment that encourages active participation in the classroom.
Developing literacy in both regular and special education is the focus of this class. The curriculum explores current theory and methods of engagement in reading, writing and language skills.
Early Childhood Collaboration:
This class focuses on family, school, teacher and community collaboration in developing young children. Cultural, social, environmental, political and medical issues affecting learning are also explored.
Preschool teachers earned a median annual wage of $28,570 in May of 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Between 2014 and 2024, job opportunities for preschool teachers should increase by 7%, or a fast-as-average rate when compared to all other occupations. As of May 2015, more than half of all preschool teachers were employed in child daycare services.
Training requirements for preschool teachers vary by state; however, most states require at least a high school education and some experience teaching. Many employers and some states require that preschool teachers hold a CDA certification, and others require college courses in early childhood development or a degree. In some states, the Child Care Professional certification from the Early Childhood Program Accreditation is acceptable for employment as a preschool teacher.
Depending on where a preschool teacher is employed, professional development requirements may include higher levels of education to advance to teaching pre-kindergarten classes. Continuing educational choices are available to preschool teachers in secondary or postsecondary coursework and all degree levels in early childhood education. Additionally, some employers offer specialized training and educational funding.
If you think you'd like to pursue a career as a preschool teacher, keep in mind that some training programs can be completed entirely online while others may include mandatory on-site internships in a preschool setting. Once employed you may earn a median annual salary of $28,570.