Some people might be amazed that preschool teachers actually plan their career, and don't just end up with the job because of bad luck. Certified preschool teachers have met state requirements, including education and teaching experience. Requiring preschool teachers to be certified ensures schools can hire teachers capable of turning a roomful of toddlers into something wonderful -- a classroom. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, preschool teachers earned a median annual income of $25,700 in 2010 and the job outlook is good.
Graduate high school. A high school degree or its equivalent is the minimum requirement for preschool teachers, with only a few exceptions, and is required as a prerequisite for additional training.
Evaluate which certification or license will qualify you for the job you want. If you want to teach in public schools, the requirements are more stringent. In most states you will need a teaching certificate for preschool through third grade. But you also can earn the Certified Childcare Professional or CCP credential from the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation Commission or the Child Development Associate or CDA credential from the Council for Professional Recognition. These credentials can qualify you to work in private schools, Head Start programs and day care settings.
Earn a degree that fulfills the requirements for the credential or license you wish to obtain. Ask your state department of education about the requirements for preschool teachers. This can vary from an associate's degree to a bachelor's degree -- determined by where you want to teach; public schools generally require a four-year degree in early childhood education. Expect to take classes on curriculum development, child psychology, learning theories and pedagogy.
Gain experience. You can pick it up on-the-job in a day care setting or as an assistant teacher. Student teaching experience is generally a part of an early childhood education degree.
Apply for a teaching license or the credential you prepared for. Expect to submit a background check and have your immunizations up-to-date.
2016 Salary Information for Preschool Teachers
Preschool teachers earned a median annual salary of $28,790 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, preschool teachers earned a 25th percentile salary of $22,750, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $38,350, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 478,500 people were employed in the U.S. as preschool teachers.
- Education Portal: How to Become a Certified Preschool Teacher
- US Bureau of Labor and Statistics: Preschool Teachers
- DegreeDirectory.org: Preschool Teacher: How to Become a Preschool Teacher in 5 Steps
- iSeek Careers: Preschool and Kindergarten Teachers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Preschool Teachers
- Career Trend: Preschool Teachers
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.