Children begin learning basic concepts long before their first day of kindergarten, including the colors of the rainbow and the letters of the alphabet. Early childhood education teachers specialize in these early learning skills. They also help their students develop a sense of wonder and excitement for the classroom that will benefit them for years to come.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10% growth in preschool teacher employment from 2016 to 2026, mostly in response to the demand for more high-quality early education programs across the nation. Read on to learn more about earning your early childhood education degree online and prepare to enter this rewarding and growing profession.
Earning your early childhood education degree online offers greater flexibility than traditional on-campus programs. In addition, online programs often prove more cost-effective; some schools allow nonresident distance learners to pay in-state tuition, and online students generally don't have to worry about added transportation or housing costs.
Many online programs feature asynchronous class schedules, ideal for students balancing their education with work or family demands. This format allows you to log on at your convenience to access lectures, readings, and assignments through the online learning portal. Some schools may also offer an accelerated track that enables you to complete each course in eight weeks, reducing your time to graduation.
In addition, thanks to ever-evolving technology, online students can still take part in collaborative learning projects, communicate with their instructors, and build strong relationships with their peers. Many schools also offer on-campus networking events and the opportunity to take part in milestone moments, such as commencement exercises.
An online degree for early childhood education prepares you for many exciting careers working with children. The specialized knowledge you gain in child development and education also provides a strong foundation to seek continued training at the graduate level and work as a curriculum developer or administrator. With continued study, you may also enter related fields like child psychology or social services.
Working with young children requires a great deal of physical and emotional energy, especially since most learn through play. You need the ability to remain calm and patient, even when your young charges need constant instruction in everything from their letters and numbers to classroom procedures and manners.
Because each child learns differently, you must be creative in how you present each lesson. Often, teachers must make do with limited budgets for instructional supplies or classroom activities, drawing on their problem-solving and creative thinking skills to keep learning fun for their students.
Early childhood educators must also communicate clearly and effectively with students and their parents. You may need to discuss difficult subjects such as behavioral issues, academic progress, or other education concerns. Teachers often work as part of a larger educational team that includes fellow instructors, teaching assistants, and administrators. You must effectively communicate information on class activities, progress, and instructions for daily classroom assignments.
An early childhood education degree online program prepares you to master these skills through hands-on practicums and classroom activities, as well as collaborative learning or team-based activities. In addition, courses in child development and psychology help you recognize possible educational challenges early and understand how to talk with parents about potential intervention strategies.
While many graduates of early childhood education online programs begin their careers as classroom teachers, you can use your skills in a variety of industries and careers. Some teachers choose to use their entrepreneurial and marketing skills to start businesses, while other specialists work with government agencies to supervise childcare centers and administer grants related to early childhood education.
Expertise in early childhood learning also offers career opportunities in educational consulting and curriculum development fields. Below, learn more about the top industries for early childhood educators.
Self-Employed Workers: Early childhood educators may launch daycare businesses in their home or at another site. These businesses must adhere to all state requirements for health, safety, and educational services, including any required teacher licensing. In addition to working with children, owners must promote their businesses and manage areas like finances and human resources.
Child Daycare Services: Educational requirements for employees can vary according to the type of childcare center. Some states require private centers to hire fully licensed teachers, while others may require only that teachers take an exam or complete an associate degree. Some programs may operate year-round, while others follow local school schedules.
Private Households: Some parents hire a personal tutor or caregiver to provide individual attention for their young children. These teachers negotiate hours, yearly schedules, and daily responsibilities with each family. Some teachers focus only on teaching or educational intervention, while others provide supervision for children while parents work.
Elementary and Secondary Schools: Elementary schools offering early childhood programs require all teachers to complete at least a bachelor's degree and earn a teaching license in that state. The schedule follows the local school calendar with summer months off.
Religious, Grantmaking, Civic, Professional, and Similar Organizations: This industry includes organizations that evaluate early childhood education programs for possible grant funding and advocate for greater access to such programs. The field may include religious organizations, government agencies, or nonprofit organizations.
Annual Median Salary: $22,290
An accredited online early childhood education degree prepares childcare workers for a variety of jobs within a childcare center or an in-home childcare setting. Additional education may allow new teachers to qualify for higher-paying or supervisory positions within their organizations. Teachers work one-on-one with children and lead group lessons. They design lesson plans, monitor student progress, and watch for signs of developmental and emotional development.
Annual Median Salary: $30,273
Preschool teachers may work with pre-K students up to age five. They develop lesson plans designed to prepare students for their next educational step, covering topics such as early literacy skills, letters and numbers, and shapes. Preschool teachers also help students learn how to behave in a classroom, enforcing rules with consistency and compassion.
Annual Median Salary: $56,900
Kindergarten teachers may work in public or private schools. They must maintain state teacher certifications, which requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree and ongoing professional development. They design lessons that develop skills and meet established academic standards, enforce classroom behavior rules, and encourage character development. They typically work full time during the school year with the summer off.
Annual Median Salary: $38,535
Intervention specialists often work for government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and school systems to provide individual help for young students with developmental delays or special needs in areas of language, motor skills, or behavior. They assess each student's needs and work with parents to develop a plan that may include special exercises and referrals to physicians or therapists. They monitor each child's progress and adjust plans as needed.
Annual Median Salary: $46,890
Preschool and childcare center directors serve as chief academic officers, typically responsible for human resources, compliance with state rules and regulations, and enrollment management. They ensure all staff meet minimum education standards, complete required training, and pass mandated background checks. They also monitor the physical facility and schedule maintenance work as needed.
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