Training for Preschool Teachers
Those wishing to start a preschool teacher career generally need to undergo some formal education and may need to become state certified. This training can help students learn necessary preschool teacher skills, such as teaching methodologies, and how to monitor students' progress. Aspiring preschool teachers need to be patient with their young students and should also aim to further develop their skills in communication, organization, and creativity to work with these students.
How Many Years of School to Become a Preschool Teacher?
The answer for students asking 'do you need a degree to be a preschool teacher?' is usually yes. In order to become a certified preschool teacher most employers require an associate's or bachelor's degree, although some may only require a high school diploma. These requirements may also vary by state. For example, preschool teachers in New Jersey are required to have a bachelor's degree.
An associate's degree typically takes 2 years to complete while a bachelor's degree usually takes 4 years to finish. These programs are generally available with titles like Early Childhood Education, and many are available in online formats. During these degree programs, students are trained in current preschool teaching methodology and may gain hands-on experience through observations and practicum experiences. Other course topics may include:
- Assessment in early childhood
- Development of children
- Infants and toddlers
- Language development
- Safety issues
- Classroom management
What Other Requirements Are There to Become a Preschool Teacher?
As mentioned, states generally have different requirements for preschool teachers. Outside of education, some states may require these teachers to have prior work experience with young children. Students may gain this experience by working as teacher assistants or other childcare workers.
Some states may also require preschool teachers to complete an exam and observation experience after their formal coursework to earn their Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Public schools also typically require preschool teachers to be licensed. Depending on the state, this may require students to pass an exam after earning a bachelor's degree. The CDA credential does require renewal, while many teaching licenses have continuing education requirements.
What Does a Preschool Teacher Do?
The primary responsibility in a preschool teacher job description is educating children younger than 5 to help prepare them for school. In addition to basic learning concepts, such as numbers, colors, and shapes, these teachers also help young students develop their social, motor, and language skills. Other preschool teacher duties may include:
- Planning curriculum
- Creating daily schedules
- Preparing activities
- Identifying emotional or developmental problems
- Communicating with parents
How Much Do Preschool Teachers Make?
In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average annual salary of a preschool teacher was $34,410. Most of these teachers worked in child day care services and made an average salary of $30,050 for the same year. The highest paid preschool teachers were those who worked for state governments (excluding schools and hospitals) and the BLS reported that these preschool teachers made an average salary of $51,340 in 2018.