Associate's Degree Programs in Early Childhood Education

Students who earn an associate's degree in early childhood education are prepared for entry-level careers working in childcare facilities and preschools. They can also transfer credits to a bachelor's degree program and seek licensure as teachers.

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Essential Information

Early childhood education associate's degree programs provide students with foundational training in working with young children and their families. Child safety, curriculum development and child development are a few topics that may be studied at the associate's degree level. Examples of areas individuals may specialize in include special education, sociology and English as a second language.

Applicants to these 2-year programs will need a high school diploma or GED.

Associate's Degree Program in Early Childhood Education

Associate's degree programs in early childhood education are available at many community colleges as well as through online universities. An associate's degree in early childhood education provides students with the skills necessary to work with all children including special needs children. Common courses consist of the following:

  • Fundamentals of early childhood education
  • Child psychology
  • Children with special needs
  • Child observation and assessment
  • Literacy development in early childhood education
  • Curriculum development in early childhood education

Popular Career Options

While early childhood education graduates are prepared for a number of careers working with children, further education may be required for most teaching positions. Popular career options include the following:

  • Private childcare provider
  • Preschool teacher's aide
  • Kindergarten teacher's aide
  • Day care center manager
  • Head Start teacher

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Advanced education is available at multiple levels in early childhood education, including programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Early childhood educators are required to hold licensure or certification whether they work in childcare centers or schools; however, private childcare providers working with small numbers of children are not always required to be certified. Requirements for certification vary widely by age level and state. Typically, certification requires a background check, proof of immunizations and a training component.

Students who earn an associate's degree in early childhood education typically are eligible for entry-level positions in this field, such as a Head Start teacher, preschool teacher's aide and private childcare provider. Upon graduation, students can also go on to obtain higher levels of education to prepare for teaching careers.

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