Degree Research

Career Options With An Early Childhood Education Degree

By The Editorial Team
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If you have a passion for shaping young minds, a degree in early childhood education can be a great way to jump-start a career working with children up to age eight. This course of study provides a strong foundation for a future in teaching and childcare.

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Degrees in early childhood education range from certificate programs to master’s degrees that qualify teachers to work with a wide range of children at varying stages of development. Whether you see yourself as a day care provider, preschool teacher, or elementary school teacher, there are plenty of career opportunities for those who pursue a degree in early childhood education.

What is the job growth for early childhood education careers?

Passion matters when choosing a career, but so do growth opportunities. Luckily, educating children will always be an essential job. The outlook for the future is bright: Jobs are expected to grow for early childhood educators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in preschool education are expected to grow at a rate of around 7% between 2018 and 2028. This equates to an extra 36,900 jobs added to the market. Growth is slower but still present for kindergarten and elementary school educators, with a growth rate of 3% and 53,100 jobs anticipated.

If teaching isn’t your goal, there are plenty of other careers that can stem from a degree in early childhood education. Childcare center employees, school administrators, and even social workers often have a background in early childhood education. The outcome for these careers is strong as well; childcare workers, for example, can expect 2% growth, or 27,700 new jobs, over the next ten years.

Early childhood salaries

Early childhood education isn’t known for being an exceptionally high paying career path, but if you choose this option, it’s possible to earn a comfortable living while working with young children.

Preschool instructors have an average salary of $29,780, or $14 per hour, while elementary school teachers can expect around $57,980 per year. Daycare workers can expect to make between $11 and $12 an hour, or about $23,240 annually. Child and family social work can garner a good wage as well, with a national average of around $46,270.

If you have higher earning aspirations, further education is encouraged. Those with master’s degrees, for example, are often able to secure higher paying jobs than those without.

Job options by degree

Early childhood education isn’t a one-size-fits-all career path. There are different pathways for working with young children. If you are passionate about nurturing young minds, a certificate, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree in early childhood education can be the perfect choice for you.

Certificate in early childhood education

A four-year degree isn’t a requirement for all early childhood education careers. Another option is a certificate program in early childhood education, which typically takes three to six months to earn and provides a foundation in the basics of teaching children. A widely recognized certification is Child Development Associate.

Certified CDAs are perfectly poised to work as a day care provider, a home teaching aid, a nanny, or a school classroom assistant. Some day cares and preschools prefer to hire CDAs because the certification requires knowledge of early childhood development and understanding of how to nurture children at each stage of development.

Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education

A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education is a four-year BA or BS degree program designed for those who want to educate young children. This kind of program delves deep into the necessary knowledge for success in the classroom, including coursework like foundations in reading, psychology of education, and early childhood instruction.

For most people who pursue a bachelor’s in early childhood education, earning a teaching license is part of the program. This kind of degree is designed for teachers in prekindergarten classrooms through third grade: the most formative years of a child’s schooling. Teaching license credentials can vary from state to state.

If teaching isn’t the right fit, BS or BA graduates can also work in day care centers, hold jobs in child services roles, or act as an in-home caregiver. It is also possible to get a master’s degree in social work in order to pursue a career as a child and family social worker.

Master’s degree in early childhood education

A master’s degree in early childhood education requires an additional one to two years of school after finishing a bachelor’s degree. Most people who pursue a master’s in this field are interested in teaching, as a graduate degree isn’t as useful in other career paths in the world of early childhood education. If you are enthusiastic about instruction, however, getting a master’s degree can mean earning more money in many districts around the country. The difference in pay between an undergraduate and graduate degree in education can mean as much as $7,300 per year. In time, this can result in significantly higher income over the course of a career.

In some states, master’s degrees are helpful for landing a teaching job while in others, a master’s is required to teach. Be sure to explore requirements in your state to make sure you’re fully prepared to educate the next generation. It’s not always necessary to have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education to start a master’s degree, either; some programs will admit students with a general education background or a valid teaching license in conjunction with another degree.

Jobs in early childhood education can be both fulfilling and financially rewarding, offering excellent opportunities in the childcare and teaching fields. There’s plenty of career growth and opportunity available for those passionate about enriching young lives.

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