In two-year associate's programs, students learn how to teach very young children, usually at the preschool level, and in some cases, elementary school children. Some community college early childhood education programs prepare graduates to meet teaching licensure requirements in states where licensing is necessary. Graduates of these programs are prepared for work as preschool teachers or teaching assistants. Those who have relevant experience may become early childhood center supervisors or directors.
A high school diploma or its equivalent is required for admission into one of these programs. Online programs and courses are available.
Community College Early Childhood Education Associate Degree Programs
Associate degree programs in early childhood education are comprised of general education classes, as well as concentrated early childhood education coursework. Topics of study include:
- Human psychology
- Early childhood growth, development, art, and creativity
- Technology in the classroom
- Assessment and curriculum
- Health, safety, and nutrition
- Teaching special needs students
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expected employment of preschool teachers to grow 7% from 2014-2024. This is roughly the average rate for all occupations. This growth was mostly predicted due to an increasing awareness of the importance of early childhood education. The mean annual salary for preschool teachers was $32,500 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Certification and Continuing Education
Licensing and certification requirements for early childhood educators vary widely. Some states require only a high school diploma, while others insist on a college degree. In some states, early childhood teachers must earn the Child Development Associate credential, which is awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition. Associate's degree programs in early childhood education might provide a solid foundation for those who want to transfer to bachelor's degree programs. This course of action could provide advanced opportunities for preschool teachers.
Aspiring preschool teachers or early childhood center supervisors can gain the skills and education needed via a 2-year associate degree program in early childhood education. This career field is expected to have steady growth through 2024.