So you have decided to take classes to enter or progress in the field of early childhood education and child care. How do you decide what educational path is right for you?
The first step is to consider your ultimate career goal. Below I list possible qualifications for different positions. It is important to note that each state has different regulations and standards and it is best to check with you local licensing or education agency.
Child Care Director/Administrator
Many states require at least a bachelor degree in a related field.
Child Care Head Teacher/Group Supervisor
Many states require a bachelor degree or an associate degree with classroom experience.
Child Care Assistant Teacher/Assistant Group Supervisor
Some states require an associate degree or it’s equivalent; like a CDA or certificate.
Public School Teacher
All states require that a teacher must hold a bachelor degree and either have obtained full state teacher certification or have passed the state licensing exam and hold a license to teach.
Before enrolling in a program, consider what it is involved and if it is right for you. You can expect differing levels of work and commitment based upon what option you choose.
The Child Development Associate Credential is awarded for three childcare settings: 1) Center-based: infants and toddlers or preschool children; 2) Family Child Care; and 3) Home Visitor. Along with 6 months of course work, candidates are required to complete a portfolio and be evaluated in their work setting.
Associate Degree / Certificate
This is usually a two-year program and most classes are directly related to child development and educational theory and practice. You can find these programs offered at many community colleges and some technical schools.
To complete this four year degree, students will usually be required to take general course in the liberal arts along with classes in their major.