How Do You Become a Preschool Teacher?

Preschool TeacherIf you love small children, choosing to become a preschool teacher could be an excellent career decision. Before you start looking in the newspaper for job opportunities, however, there are a few things that you need to do. You need to make sure that this career is really for you, get an education and obtain a license.

Get Experience

The best way to find out whether or not you’re cut out for a job is to experience it, so before you go to college or try to get a license, you should spend some time working with small children. Many schools hire teaching assistants for their preschool programs. To get a job as an assistant, you’ll need to have a high school diploma and the ability to pass a background check. Many employers give preference to potential employees who have certification or experience with children, but this doesn’t mean that these two things are absolutely necessary to get a job. Since you’ll be working with children between the ages of three and five if you become a preschool teacher, there are plenty of other ways to get relevant experience too. For instance, working at a daycare or getting a job as a nanny may help you decide whether or not you want to work with young children.

Get an Education

Some schools, especially small private schools, might be willing to hire you without a college education, but many employers like to hire people with two-year or four-year degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you should aim to get a two-year degree before starting your career. In general, childcare centers require a high school diploma, Head Start programs require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, and public schools require a bachelor’s degree. If you want to get a degree but feel that you don’t have enough money, consider getting an associate’s degree in early childhood education from your local community college. Many state universities have transfer agreements with community colleges. You can transfer to a university right away, or you can become a preschool teacher first and further your education in the future.

Get Certified

Different states have different rules and regulations when it comes to getting certified. Some require preschool teachers to obtain a specific kind of license, but some don’t. Check with your local education department to find out about your state’s rules. Depending on where you live, you may be required to obtain a Child Development Associate certificate from the Council for Professional Recognition before you can become a preschool teacher. To become an official Child Development Associate, or CDA, you’ll have to have a high school diploma or equivalent along with some type of post-secondary training in the early childhood education field. You’ll also need to get some hands-on experience with preschool children before you apply to get certified. Even if your state doesn’t require you to get licensed as a CDA, you still might want to, as you’ll have more job options¬†with the certification.

Related Resource: Certified Teacher

As long as you love children, a career in early childhood education can be a dream come true. If you become a preschool teacher, you’ll have a fun and fulfilling career, and you’ll probably get ample vacation time, so start preparing for you career today.