According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of early childhood educator jobs will increase from 2016 to 2026. Childcare workers and kindergarten and elementary school teachers are projected to see a 7% increase in jobs, while preschool teachers could see an 11% increase in jobs over the same time period.
Early childhood education typically refers to the profession of teaching kids ranging from three to eight years old. However, students pursuing bachelor's degrees in early childhood education can find several career options beyond the traditional classroom teacher. They could go into leadership and receive a job as an administrator. They could also specialize in teaching kids music or physical education. A bachelor's degree in early childhood education can lead you down multiple paths.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education?
The ideal candidate for a bachelor's degree in early childhood education should enjoy working with young kids. Early childhood professionals need a fair amount of patience, creativity, and dedication.
While pursuing a degree in early childhood education, students learn about the psychological growth of young children and their developmental milestones. They study how to teach basic skills that adults often take for granted, like reading and arithmetic. They also learn about how playtime can turn into productivity and how creativity leads to growth. Schools for early childhood education also train students in how to discipline young children and how to enforce classroom rules.
On-campus early childhood education programs typically attract students straight out of high school who desire the typical four-year college experience. These students usually want to live on campus while they study, hoping to directly enter the field upon graduation. Online bachelor's programs might appeal more to people already working as professionals who hope to change careers. People with families who need flexibility might opt for online programs as well.
While enrolled in their bachelor's programs, early childhood education students receive opportunities to connect with other future educators. They may also join professional associations and attend conferences where they network with education professionals. Toward the end of their program, they often gain teaching experience in the classroom as student teachers. All of these factors help them once they graduate and begin competing with other job seekers.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education?
Those who work in early childhood education like working with kids at the preschool, kindergarten, or elementary school level because they cherish seeing children grow during their formative years. Early childhood educators also sometimes become administrators at school. These professionals generally teach during their first few years and then make the transition to administrative roles.
- Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher
Teachers who work with kindergarteners or in elementary schools teach kids fundamental concepts like arithmetic and spelling. Since teachers instruct children entering school for the first time, they spend lots of time monitoring classroom behavior, teaching kids how to communicate, and showing them how to study. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers need a bachelor's degree and state certification.
Median Annual Salary: $56,900*
- Childcare Worker
Childcare workers help young children with basic needs: feeding them, bathing them, and monitoring their safety and wellbeing. They may also aid older kids with tasks such as completing. Each state enforces different requirements for childcare workers. Although most states do not require childcare workers to complete their postsecondary education, employers typically prefer their prospective employees to hold a bachelor's degree.
Median Annual Salary: $22,290*
- Preschool Teacher
Teachers instruct preschool children younger than five years of age. They play with the students and help them prepare for kindergarten by teaching them basic concepts like colors and shapes. Preschool teachers need at least an associate degree, but public schools typically require them to hold a bachelor's degree.
Median Annual Salary: $28,990*
- Preschool and Childcare Center Director
Preschool and childcare center directors run centers for young children under the age of five. They supervise staff, plan budgets, and design programs for kids. In most states, preschool and childcare center directors need a bachelor's degree with coursework in early childhood education.
Median Annual Salary: $46,890*
- Elementary, Middle, and High School Principal
Principals of elementary, middle, and high schools typically start their careers as teachers and move up through the career chain. Although they initially need a bachelor's degree, they may be required to earn a master's degree to obtain higher positions. Principals oversee schools and manage things like general curriculum, staff hiring, and school safety.
Median Annual Salary: $94,390*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Program
Early childhood education programs take about four years to complete and can cost a considerable amount of money. Students should think of a bachelor's in early childhood education as an investment. They must consider multiple factors before making their final decisions.
Students ought to consider the length of the program. Most full-time bachelor's programs take four years to complete. Part-time programs allow working professionals to enroll in school while keeping their jobs, but these programs last longer. Students might also find accelerated programs that allow them to graduate much sooner. Prospective students should scrutinize the curriculum. Do the classes cover material that students want to learn? Learners should also consider the program cost and compare it to what they can afford. Lastly, it's import for students to check what financial aid options a school offers.
Students face other considerations, too. They can either attend an on-campus or an online program, the latter of which allows for more flexibility and independence. Students should also check what agency accredits their program.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Programs
When applying to college, students should make sure that accrediting agencies approve of the school's early childhood education program. Accredited early childhood education programs ensure that students receive a quality education. If a school holds no accreditation, it can mean that the school's education fails to meet certain standards. Employers often check whether potential employees graduated from accredited early childhood education programs. They want to know whether their employees can meet the demands of the job.
Programs can either hold regional or national accreditation. Educators generally consider regional accreditation the more desirable option. Six regional accrediting agencies operate in different parts of the country. Alternatively, national accrediting agencies evaluate programs that fall within a specific subject area. If a program does not hold regional accreditation, then education students should look elsewhere at programs accredited by the Teacher Education Accreditation Council or the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Program Admissions
Students enjoy many options when it comes to early childhood education programs and should consider several factors when making their decision. These factors include program cost, school location, and admission requirements. Students should also think about visiting colleges or universities to speak to current college students about their experiences. They should also try to set up meetings with the professors.
Similarly, students should apply to the right number of programs. Applying to too many schools only adds unnecessary stress for the student. Alternatively, if students apply to only one school, they run the risk of not receiving an acceptance letter. Students should apply to one dream school, one safety school, and a few realistic schools. The total number of applications should range from five to eight schools.
- Minimum GPA: The minimum GPA for a bachelor's in early childhood education varies depending on the school. The minimum GPA typically ranges from 2.0 to 2.75. Some schools require students to hold a 3.0 GPA for guaranteed admission, but they might consider students with lower GPAs.
- Application: Schools often provide an application form that students can fill out online. Applicants usually need to fill out basic identifying material, including their high school GPA, classes, and extracurricular activities. Some schools accept the Common Application, which allows students to fill out one standard application for multiple universities.
- Transcripts: Colleges ask prospective students for their transcripts. Students can retrieve their transcripts by going to their high school counselor. They should remember to send in their official transcripts; screenshots or copies of grades do not count.
- Letters of Recommendation: Sometimes college admissions offices require applicants to submit letters of recommendations. Students may need one or two letters, depending on the university's requirements. Students ought to ask teachers to write the letters at least a month in advance.
- Test Scores: Universities and colleges expect students to submit standardized test scores along with their applications. Students may take either the SAT or the ACT. They should also check with the admissions offices to see whether their schools require a minimum test score.
- Application Fee: Schools often require students to pay an admissions fee when they submit their applications. Fees range from $25 to $90, depending on the college. Sometimes students apply for a fee waiver; they should check with the college admissions office to determine whether they qualify.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Program?
Early childhood education programs generally cover similar material. This includes the psychological development of children ages three to eight. It also involves inculcating strategies to teach children fundamental reading and math skills. However, each program lists different requirements and different strengths. Therefore, students should make sure they know the school's curriculum before they decide where to enroll.
|Special Education||A concentration in special education trains teachers how to work with children with special needs. Kids with autism, dyslexia, or other developmental or learning challenges often cannot concentrate in a regular classroom. Schools employ teachers specifically equipped to help these student.||Special education teacher|
|Administration and Leadership||If future educators find the notion of management intriguing, they should consider pursuing a specialization in administration and leadership. This concentration teaches education students about fiscal management and overseeing staff. It also familizarizes future administrators with the marketing needs, public relations policies, and laws related to education.||Preschool and childcare director, elementary school principal|
|Childhood Nutrition||Educators who specialize in childhood nutrition gain training in how to best provide nutrition to young students. They learn about allergens, obesity, and eating disorders, as well as how to help children suffering from these conditions.||Preschool and childcare director, cafeteria director|
|English as a Second Language||Some schools enroll multiple students who come to the U.S. from other countries, many of whom do not speak English. For this reason, ESL teachers instruct foreign students so that these students can succeed alongside their peers.||ESL teacher|
|Infants and Toddlers||Early childhood spans from infancy to third grade. Education students who specialize in teaching infants and toddlers learn how to care for children at the youngest and most impressionable ages. They learn how to assess whether infants and toddlers meet their developmental goals. They also learn how best to play with these children in an instructive manner.||Daycare teacher, preschool teacher, childcare worker|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Program
Early childhood education programs do not follow a standardized curriculum. However, several programs require several common courses. These courses cover essential skills, like the psychological development of children and how that development affects their ability to learn basic math and reading concepts. You can find a list of those common courses below.
- Child Development
Often considered a foundational course in early childhood education curricula, the child development class explores the psychologies of young kids. Future teachers learn about students' cognitive and literacy needs in preschool and kindergarten. Once future teachers possess a solid understanding of a child's development, they may feel better equipped to teach them.
- Early Childhood Literacy
Instructing young kids involves teaching them how to read. This course gives future teachers strategies on guiding children in their reading journeys. Future teachers learn about vocabulary, phonics, fluency, phonemic awareness, and how all of those skills enable young kids to learn their alphabets and begin to read.
- Curriculum Planning
Curriculum planning courses help future teachers understand how to strategically fit a variety of subjects into one year of learning. Teachers also learn how other skills — like play, art, and physical activity — fit into the larger curriculum.
- Math Experiences in Early Childhood Education
A course on math experiences in early childhood education covers the basic mathematical concepts young students should learn, such as counting and arithmetic.
- Play in the Lives of Young Children
Many programs offer courses about play and creative expression. Future teachers learn about the importance of playing in children's development. Play can lead to productivity, and this course instructs future teachers how to channel art, music, and drama into kids' playtime. The course also focuses on how play can help students' psychological and creative growth.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education?
Most early childhood education degrees require students to complete around 120 credit hours, but some schools require up to 180. The majority of bachelor's programs in early childhood education require the average student to stay in school for four years. If students take on extra credits during the semester, or if they enroll in summer classes, they may complete their degrees in less time.
Students may also finish their degrees faster if they enroll in an accelerated program. These programs can cut down their required schooling to two and a half years or less. Accelerated programs typically allow students to accumulate credits in a unique way, such as through seven-week courses instead of traditional semester courses. Other factors may elongate the time students spend pursuing their bachelor's degree. They may need to work full time or take care of family, both of which can limit the number of credit hours they can complete each semester.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education?
The cost for earning a bachelor's degree in early childhood education depends on several factors, including the specific school, resident or nonresident status, and whether the student receives financial aid.
The price of each credit hour typically ranges from $200 to $1000, with in-state tuition generally offered at a lower rate than nonresident tuition. With a typical 120-credit bachelor's program, the total tuition over four years could range from $24,000 to $48,000.
Tuition costs serve as only part of the overall price of an early childhood education degree. Students must also consider housing costs if they enroll in an on-campus program instead of an online program. They should also factor in costs such as books and technology fees. Students who enroll in online courses may need to pay a distance-learning course fee in addition to the standard tuition fee. However, students often qualify for scholarships, grants, loans, and federal financial aid, which can help mitigate costs.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education Prepares For
- Early Childhood Generalist Certification
Students who receive a degree in early childhood education qualify for the early childhood generalist certification exam. Offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), this certification qualifies teachers who aim to teach students ages three to eight. To receive this certification, teachers also need at least three years of experience and a state teaching license.
- Exceptional Needs Specialist Certification
Administered by the NBPTS, the Exceptional Needs Specialist exam certifies teachers to work alongside children with special needs, including children from prekindergarten to high school. Teachers need a minimum of three years of teaching experience and a state teaching license to earn certification.
- English as a New Language - Early and Middle Childhood Certification
Teachers who want to work with immigrant students may earn the English as a new language certification. ESL teachers instruct foreign students in the English language so that they can learn alongside their peers. The NBPTS requires that candidates for this certification possess a state teaching license and three years of teaching experience.
- Music - Early and Middle Childhood Certification
Teachers can become certified to lead music classes by taking the music certification exam for early and middle childhood from the NBPTS. They should know how to teach kids the basics of music, show proof of three years of professional teaching experience, and hold a teaching license from their state.
- Physical Education - Early and Middle Childhood Certification
NBPTS 's physical education certification can help educators earn jobs as P.E. teachers. In addition to holding a bachelor's degree, P.E. teachers pursuing certification also need a state teaching license and three years of experience.
Resources for Early Childhood Education Students
Zero to Three is a nonprofit organization that develops strategies for how to best raise infants and toddlers. The group connects and provides resources to researchers, educators, parents, and policymakers.
This scholarly journal, offered through Loyola University of Chicago, publishes academic articles concerning the education of young children. Students can find a backlog of issues on the journal's website, which are all available free of charge.
This institute analyzes childcare policies and legislations across the U.S. NIEER publishes journal articles, policy briefs, research reports, and webinars that students can use in their coursework.
This nonprofit research foundation focuses its research on the development of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Education students can find studies on how poverty affects kids' childcare and learning opportunities.
This organization functions largely as an advocacy group for early childhood education, but it offers many other resources to teachers. Educators can find research on kids' health and development, state fact sheets, and a national childcare data system.
Professional Organizations in Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education students and professionals should consider joining a professional association. These organizations connect people within the industry. Students and recent grads can learn from more seasoned teachers or childcare workers. Professional associations typically host annual conferences where people in the field can network. They also publish scholarly journals or provide members with access to job portals. Some professional organizations invite all early childhood professionals and students to join. Others operate with specific aims in mind, such as advocating for family child care.
This organization provides its members with professional development seminars, journals, and webinars. The association's professional learning institute and annual conference allow members to learn from others in the industry.
This organization gives members access to a job portal, networking events, legal advice, and human resource assistance. PACE also encourages members to advocate for legislation benefiting the early childhood industry.
This association promotes children's right to education all over the world. In large part, it operates as an advocacy group. However, it also provides its professional members with access to journals, grants, and other resources.
This organization functions as a professional association specifically for directors or administrators of early child care centers. The organization allows leaders to share ideas with one another in order to create the best possible programs for early child care.
This organization promotes family child care given by professionals working at children's homes. NAFCC members may attend the association's annual conference and enroll in professional development webinars.