Early Childhood Education
The demand for professionals who work with the nation’s youngest students is on the rise due to an increase in the number of children attending preschools and nursery schools. If you have the talent, determination and patience needed to work with small children and a desire to contribute to the education of the youngest U.S. citizens, you may find the job market is favorable to you. An interest in early childhood education jobs offers you an impressive number of directions to take in your education and your career. Training for early childhood teaching includes a variety of degree programs, and there are several career paths to pursue. Education career openings currently include rewarding positions with excellent pay for those who complete training and successfully take on the challenges of working with small children.
Program Options for Early Childhood Teaching Preparation
Your journey to a career as an early childhood educator will begin with a coursework in one of the degree programs available through top academic institutions. With the increase in preschool and nursery school attendance in the U.S., you can find a program type that fits your goals and needs. Many degree programs include online courses that offer flexibility to individuals who are working in other fields while pursuing their degrees.
Your career path and options for salary and upward movement will be influenced by the degree you earn. There are three programs for early childhood educators:
- Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education
- Master’s degree in early childhood education
- Doctor of Philosophy in early childhood education
Careers for Graduates with Bachelor’s Degrees
You can earn a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education through a four-year program. The program includes general studies courses followed by courses that prepare you for a teaching career. Your career can follow a path toward two top education positions:
- Preschool or childcare center director: As the director of a preschool or childcare center, you will oversee staff members and the children’s activities. You will manage the center’s programs, scheduling and budgets. The average salary for a center director is about $43,000 a year, with potential earnings of more than $85,000 a year for directors with years of experience.
- Early childhood education specialist: This position is part of the preschool education team. You will provide counseling and instructions to children in the preschool program. The average early childhood education salary for an education specialist is $35,000 a year, with a potential increase of up to $40,000 a year with experience.
Careers for Graduates with Master’s Degrees
Earning a master’s degree in early childhood education usually takes one or two years. You must earn a bachelor’s degree first. The program will expand on your undergraduate education and offer you more specialized knowledge. After you have completed your master’s degree coursework, you may choose from top teaching positions or work for an education foundation in careers such as:
- Early childhood special education teacher: Special education teachers have expert knowledge that helps them teach and work with students who have special needs. As a special education teacher with a master’s degree, you can find positions in both public and private settings. This position offers an average yearly salary of $77,000. Special education teachers with years of experience have the potential to earn up to $95,000.
- Public charter school early childhood educator: Charter school teachers with master’s degrees can earn up to $82,000 yearly. As an early childhood teacher at a charter school, you will work with students in a classroom-like setting. These positions have the potential to pay salaries of up to $100,000 a year.
- Private preschool director of education: Education directors manage the early childhood curriculum and make program decisions for private institutions. You can qualify for this position after ample experience educating students directly. This position starts at about $60,000 a year in salary, with the potential to earn up to $100,000 a year with experience.
- Foundation grant writer: You can use your experience working with young children to craft grant documents that help education foundations receive money from the government and charitable groups. Grant writers usually start with salaries of at about $42,000 a year, earning more as they become more experienced with this specialized work.
Careers for Graduates with Doctorate Degrees
Earning a PhD in early childhood education may provide you with entry to the upper-level positions in the education of the nation’s youngest students. An early childhood education doctorate degree can be pursued after you earn your master’s degree and usually takes about three years to complete. You can work directly with students or run educational programs in positions such as:
- Preschool admissions coach: You can help parents prepare their young children for the admissions process in competitive preschool programs by coaching their children. You will work with both the children and parents by teaching them methods the family can use to help the child successfully gain entry into the desired school. Coaching is a consulting position and can pay hourly rates from $150 to $400 an hour, depending on the session.
- Elementary school childcare center director: You can use your specialized knowledge of early childhood education to manage a program at an elementary school setting. This position will require you to direct program activities as well as work with the board of education and other government organizations. The entry salary for a director is about $89,000 a year, with advancement possible to up to $175,000 a year.
- Private preschool director of education: This position requires your specialized knowledge of educational programming as well as early childhood evaluation methods. The entry salary for a director at a private preschool is usually $90,000 a year, and can increase with experience to up to $190,000 a year.
Early Childhood Education Jobs Outlook
The outlook for early childhood careers in education is positive for graduates with bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. The job availability numbers have been steadily increasing in recent years, with availability projected to reach 18 percent by 2019. You can begin your career in a teaching position and use your education and experience to move toward top jobs in the field with excellent salaries and options for advancement. The first step to the rewarding experience of teaching young students is finding the degree program that is right for you and your career goals in early childhood education.