It’s a simple truth that children are the future of our society, and that makes the people who teach them from a very young age some of the most valuable professionals out there. Early Childhood Education (ECE) teachers will work with children from birth to around 3rd grade (about 8 years old), ensuring that they get off to the best possible start in life and build a passion for learning and knowledge that will last them their entire life’s journey.
If the idea of laying the foundation for a lifelong love of education appeals to you, read on to learn more about becoming an early childhood education teacher, the job requirements and what you’ll need to do in order to achieve certification.
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What Is an Early Childhood Education Teacher
An early childhood education teacher works with kids from birth through eight years old, and these formative years are the time when a child learns more than they will at any period for the rest of their life. During early childhood, children learn to talk, read, write, perform math skills, solve problems, think in both abstract and critical terms, engage creatively and to relate socially to other people, among other important developmental skills.
Because of this, ECE instructors are vital to the child’s development. While it is not mandated by the Department of Education, getting certified in ECE can greatly improve your marketability.
Requirements of an ECE Teacher
In order to be successful as an ECE teacher, besides your educational background and teaching certification, you’ll need a deep love of children and a drive to help them excel. Dedication and patience are critical for early childhood teachers, as is sensitivity to the developmental needs of kids.
You’ll need to be able to recognize potential difficulties such as learning disabilities or childhood emotional problems and refer kids in need to the right social services. You may end up working in a culturally diverse classroom, so cultural sensitivity is important. You will need outstanding adult communication and interpersonal skills, as you’ll not only have to work with other educators and administrators, but with parents.
You must be detail-oriented and able to construct lesson plans, deliver lessons through formalized education and through structured and unstructured play. You will be responsible for teaching kids everything from how to tie their shoes to multiplication tables and more.
Getting Certified in Early Childhood Education
Again, there are no federal mandates for early childhood teachers. As the most basic requirement, you’ll need to be certified in your state as an elementary school teacher. However, each state also has its own pathway to licensure, and your state may indeed have ECE certification that you’ll need to pursue.
The most basic federal requirements also include a student teaching internship, followed by a licensing exam that’s administered by your state. Many teachers pursue master’s-level education to further increase their skills and improve their chances at getting a job.
According to the BLS, the median pay for preschool teachers in 2015 was $28,570 per year, while elementary school teachers earned a median salary of $42,880. The job has an expected growth of 7% through 2024.
Check out your state’s requirements for getting early childhood education teacher certification today!