How to Begin a Career With an Early Childhood Education Degree

So, your hard work has paid off and you now have an early childhood education degree. But, as you sit there planning your future, you realize you just don’t know where to start. Should you study again? Should you apply for a job at a daycare center immediately? Should you take any board exam?

Don’t fret. Here’s how you can begin a career with an early childhood education degree:

Teaching In Private Schools

Some private schools don’t typically require their teachers to be licensed by the state. Rather than searching for certification, they typically look for the following:

  • Teaching abilities
  • Work experience
  • Related degrees

Those private schools that do require their teachers to be licensed typically still hire people without the certification. They just give time to complete the requirements for the licensing.

In short, if you plan on teaching young children in private schools, upon completion of your degree, you can directly submit your applications to your chosen daycare centers.

Teaching In Public Schools

To teach children from early ages in public schools, prior certification is required. Each state has its own requirements for licensing, but there are commonalities.
Upon graduation, regardless of whichever state you are in, these are the steps you would have to take to get your license:

1. Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

If you didn’t complete a teacher preparation program while pursuing your early childhood education degree, you’ll have to complete one upon graduation. The teacher preparation program is a non-degree certification program designed to complement your major and to equip you with the necessary skills to teach. The program essentially covers educational pedagogy, and will require you to immerse yourself in teaching.

Its coursework typically covers the following:

  • Child or adolescent development: This will equip the teacher with the necessary knowledge about the growth of the child – the student.
  • Language and literacy: This will equip the teacher with the competencies he or she needs for a responsive instruction that’s understood by children
  • Issues in education: This will help the teacher understand the challenges they’ll have to face in order to determine the proper response to them
  • Assessment of students: This will equip the teacher with the necessary tools to assess what the students have learned.
  • Early childhood methods: Effective strategies to teach children
  • Educational psychology: This will equip the teacher with the necessary know-how to deal with students who have differences in learning

2. Take the Required Exam(s) for Teachers in Your State

The number of tests you need to pass before becoming a licensed educator depends on the state where you plan to teach.

To become a teacher, you would typically need to pass three tests:

  • Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators: This test assesses the person’s content knowledge and skills for teaching
  • Praxis Subject Assessments: These cover general subjects
  • Praxis Content Knowledge for Teaching Assessments: These measures the person’s content knowledge

Some states require another test, the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching test, which focuses on the basic principles of teaching and learning in the classroom.

Be prepared to shell out money ranging from $150 to $300, depending on your state.


3. Submit Application For Certification

To be able to teach, you need a certification from the state where you plan to do this. You can submit the application after passing the required tests. The application is submitted to your state’s Department of Education.

When applying, be prepared to shell out an amount ranging from $40 to  $200. Also, be prepared to go through a background check – to assure the state that you don’t have any criminal history.

4. Submit Applications in Public Schools

Once certified, you can start submitting your applications to teach in your chosen institutions. Your certification, though, needs to be renewed every few years.

The requirements for the renewal vary per state, but they typically involve learning additional courses or performing additional coursework.

Conclusion

Your journey toward achieving your dream of teaching kids in daycares does not end with you graduating with an early childhood education degree (unless you land a job in a private school that does not require certification). After graduation, there are certain requirements you need to complete before you can jumpstart your career. This is actually understandable since you’ll be dealing with kids.

But, don’t be overwhelmed. All you need to do is research, and do things one step at a time. If you do this, you can be assured that in no time, you’ll be standing in a classroom and teaching kids, doing that thing you’ve always dreamed of doing.