The work of a preschool or pre-K teacher is both meaningful and valuable. Preschool and pre-K teachers play a vital role in the lives of students ages three to five by nurturing and developing their interests in age-appropriate subjects. They encourage social interactions and foster a creative learning environment while providing the fundamental educational foundation to prepare them for a successful start to school.
Preschool and pre-kindergarten teachers are passionate about working with small children. They are patient and empathetic while working with students and enjoy the unpredictable nature of young children.
Focusing on school readiness, preschool teachers generally work with children ages two to five in daycare settings, churches, Head Start centers, and various private schools. They supervise children during meal times, help in the development of social skills, and reinforce personal hygiene activities. Days include coordinating play-learning and nap time, dressing students, and even changing toddlers’ diapers. Preschool teachers are flexible and creative while maintaining structure and sticking to schedules.
Pre-K teachers instruct children three to five years of age. A main focus at this level is preparing students to be ready for kindergarten. Early learning foundations in basic subjects such as pre-reading readiness and early math experiences are practiced daily.
As a pre-K teacher, your typical activities may include:.
Public pre-K teachers work a variety of hours, depending on whether they’re employed full time or part time. Some pre-K teachers work full time and are responsible for separate morning and afternoon classes. Preschool teachers who work full time for daycare centers typically work eight-hour shifts ranging from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Someone who is:
Preschool and pre-K teachers must meet specific requirements:
Degrees earned for preschool and pre-K teachers often include early childhood education, special education, or child development. Coursework completed may also include early childhood learning technology, principles of childhood development, and educational and childhood psychology.
More states are requiring pre-K and preschool teachers to have a bachelor’s degree and certification in a childhood teaching program, such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate in addition to a teaching license.
In addition to an educational degree and initial certification, preschool teachers need to complete continuing education credits, known as CEUs, to maintain their credential or license.
Once you meet your state’s requirements, you may choose to work in public schools or private education settings. Private settings include daycare centers and parochial, or faith-based, schools. Job opportunities can also include working with children at U.S. armed services bases, government agencies and large private companies that provide onsite daycare or preschool facilities.
Visit our state-by-state teacher licensing and reciprocity page to see regulations in your state.
Salary ranges for preschool and pre-K teachers can vary depending on the state, degree, experience, and institution of employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for preschool and pre-K teachers is $29,780. The lowest 10% earn less than $20,610 and the highest 10% earn more than $55,350.
According to ZipRecruiter.com, average pay for preschool and pre-K teachers by state varies from $21,287 to $29,921.
Here is a snapshot of average preschool teacher salaries:
Early childhood education is essential for a child’s social and intellectual development. With an increase in preschool-age children and the national movement toward a universal pre-K program, many states will require more qualified and dedicated preschool and pre-K program teachers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment of preschool and pre-K teachers is projected to grow 7% from 2018 to 2028.
It is important to stay current in all levels of education. Preschool and pre-K teachers are required to take continuing education credits or professional development units to maintain their licenses. Preschool and pre-K teachers seeking graduate studies should look for programs that expand their early childhood development expertise.
Further professional development may also include formal arrangements through workshops, seminars, and conferences. There are many in-person or online professional development options. Check out the National Association for the Education of Young Children for suggestions.
These associations provide resources for teachers in preschool and pre-K classrooms:
The internet is ideal for pre-K and preschool teachers as a tool for research, lesson planning, presentations, and a chuckle.