Preschool teachers may arguably be the most important teachers in the field. These are the dedicated educational professionals who introduce young children to the world of school. As a preschool teacher you can work with students between the ages of 2 and 6 to create a passion for learning and knowledge that can last their entire lives.
Not just anyone can become a preschool teacher, however. You’ll need to complete specific steps and follow a distinct path outlined by your state’s regulations and licensing boards in order to enter this exciting field. Explore what it takes to become a preschool teacher, the minimum requirements and skills, and why these teachers are so important to our system.
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Overview of the Field
Preschool teachers use interactive play, games and other exercises to teach basic skills to children between the ages of 2 and 6 as they get ready for kindergarten and primary school. There is an old adage that play is the job of a child, and a teacher in preschool will use this to build vocabulary, language skills and other tools the child will need as they enter formal education in kindergarten and beyond.
You may help to build interest in art, music, dance, reading, problem solving, basic math and coordination skills. You’ll teach sharing, cooperation, communication and respect using both one-on-one and small group methods.
Becoming a Preschool Teacher
In order to become a preschool teacher you’ll need specific education. While the specifics vary from state to state and even to some degree from institution to institution, you’ll need at minimum a bachelor’s degree, with coursework in areas such as child development, curriculum and instructional design, classroom management, child psychology and behavior, instructional resources, instructional technology, and parent-child relations. You’ll also need to pass legal clearances to allow you to work with children.
Many preschool teachers begin their career as assistant teachers, where they fulfill student-teaching or internship requirements before moving on to being teachers. Eventually, they can enter status as a lead teacher.
The United States BLS shows that as of 2015, preschool teachers on average earned around $32,500 per year, with the top earners in the field making almost $52,000 annually. The job growth for the field is projected at around 7% by 2024, which is about average job growth in our current economy. The numbers could go higher, however, as demand for teachers reaches a critical peak.
Teaching Without a Certification
For those who wish to work in an educational capacity with children, but don’t have the ability to pursue full licensure or certification, there are options available. However, you will likely not make as much money as you would with full licensure. Those with a childhood education certificate or bachelor’s degree but no certification may be able to work in private schools, daycare centers or other facilities.
The true path to a career as a preschool teacher begins with certification in your state, however. Check out the resources and information we provide for standards in your state, and get started on the road to a great career today!