Early Childhood Education (ECE) Frequently Asked Questions
Here's why earning an early childhood education degree, diploma, or certificate may be the right choice: Maybe you are patient, creative, and can't help but smile any time you hear the play and laughter of children. And maybe you can picture yourself nurturing young kids, providing them with a safe and stimulating learning environment where you can make a positive difference in their lives and share in their first experiences with reading, phonics, math, science, art, and social studies.
However, before you make the leap, you may have some additional questions in regards to early childhood education. Salary expectations, job outlook, and career possibilities may be some of the areas you want to learn more about. So check out the frequently asked questions below to uncover additional details about ECE training and careers.
What Level of Education Is Required, and How Long Does It Take?
There is no specific education level required to become an early childhood educator. A certificate or diploma in the field can help you obtain a variety of entry-level positions. However, you may find that many preschools set their minimum education level at an associate's degree. And private and public schools may require a bachelor's degree. So it can be beneficial to conduct research on the organizations where you would like to work in order to ensure that you are choosing an education level that is in line with your career goals.
The amount of time you need to dedicate to your schooling varies depending on the ECE program you choose. In general, an early childhood education certificate can be earned in one year or less, a diploma and an associate's degree can be earned in one to two years, and a bachelor's degree can be earned in two to four years.
What Could I Learn in School?
The subjects covered during your training can vary between schools and depend on whether you are working toward an ECE degree, diploma, or certificate. Early childhood education programs cover the essentials from infancy through to the third grade. Some of the specific areas you could learn about include:
- Emotional, intellectual, physical, and social development
- Academic needs
- Behavioral techniques
- Child psychology theories and principles
- Health and safety
- Curriculum development and review
- Community, cultural, and societal roles in child development
Can I Choose a Specialization When I Earn an ECE Degree?
When you are exploring the various options with early childhood education degrees, you may find an opportunity to specialize in a specific area. Some of the more common specializations include:
Can I Earn an Early Childhood Education Degree Online?
If you are interested in flexibility in your schedule, then you could opt to earn an ECE degree online (also referred to as distance learning). There are several options for you to choose from, and some schools offer blended learning (aka hybrid) models. Hybrid programs offers the best of both worlds, enabling you to earn your certificate, diploma, or degree in early childhood education through a mix of classroom and distance learning.
Will I Require Additional Early Childhood Education Certification Before I Can Find Employment?
There is no specific requirement for additional certification to work as an early childhood educator. ECE certification requirements vary by state and also depend on where you would like to work. The two most common and nationally recognized certifications are:
As you explore your employment options, you could find that additional education and certification may be required for preschool teaching positions within public schools as well. There are quite a few different ECE certification options depending on which state you live in and where you would like to work. So it is important to check your state's education and licensing requirements to ensure that your educational choice is aligned with your career aspirations.
What Can You Do With an ECE Degree or Certificate?
Many early childhood education graduates secure employment as childcare workers within daycares and preschools. However, childcare positions can also be found within churches and charities that run community programs, and there are other employment options you may not have considered. These include:
Some ECE professionals also find positions within social and human services organizations, specifically working within child welfare or family and children's services departments. Another possibility is to work for yourself and open your own private, in-home childcare facility. The bottom line is that you could find quite a variety of employment options once you have earned your certificate, diploma, or degree in early childhood education.
What Kind of Salary Can I Expect?
The salary range of an ECE professional can vary depending on your position, level of experience, and employer. Listed below is the salary range for four of the more common ECE positions. The salary data is taken from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic's Occupational Employment Statistics and reflects national estimates as of May 2016.*
- Childcare worker—$17,190 to $31,710 or higher
- Preschool teacher—$19,430 to $54,310 or higher
- Special education preschool teacher—$32,980 to $89,290 or higher
- Preschool and childcare center director—$29,230 to $82,790 or higher
What Is the Job Outlook?
The job outlook for early childhood education professionals is expected to be quite strong in the upcoming years. An increased importance is being placed on education in early childhood. Studies have shown that low-income and at-risk children who receive high-quality early education are more likely to succeed in school overall, as well as graduate from high school. And they are less likely to commit juvenile crime, require special education services, or have teen pregnancies. In addition, it has been seen that children of all family income levels who attend high-quality early education programs have improved cognitive and social outcomes.**
In 2013, in light of this information, President Obama announced the Preschool for All (PFA) initiative, which allocates $75 billion dollars in funding over the course of a decade. The federal government intends to collaborate with states in order to increase preschool enrollments across the country, specifically targeting low and moderate-income families. And additional funding was allocated to programs such as Head Start and home visit programs for low-income, at-risk children.***
The PFA initiative and additional government funding and focus on early childhood education has the potential to lead to more job opportunities for early childhood educators in the coming years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic's Occupational Outlook Handbook, projected job growth during the 2016 to 2026 period is expected to be moderate for four of the more common ECE professions:****
- Childcare worker—Seven percent
- Preschool teacher—10 percent
- Special education preschool teacher—Eight percent
- Preschool and childcare center director—11 percent
What Are the Other Benefits of an ECE Career?
As an ECE professional, you could be working with children at one of their most vulnerable times. Their brains are growing at a rapid rate, and they are starting to learn about the world and their place within it. And you could be a part of that experience.
Supporting a child's development is highly rewarding. You have a role in helping them achieve academic, personal, and social milestones. And you are equipping them with skills that can help them throughout the rest of their K-12 journey.
You also have the opportunity to become a memorable role model in a child's life. You may spend years with the same children, offering them valued support, care, and guidance. You could make an impact on their lives that they never forget. And with that comes a great amount of personal pride and accomplishment.
Where Do I Go From Here?
If this sounds like the perfect occupation for you, then you can start by finding the early childhood education degree, diploma, or certificate program that best supports your career ambitions. Take a look at the schools above, or enter your zip code below to locate the ECE colleges and universities in your area. A fulfilling new career is within your reach!
* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on September 15, 2017.
** Child Trends Data Bank, Child Care, website last visited on February 20, 2017.
*** U.S. Department of Education, "Early Learning: America's Middle Class Promise Begins Early", website last visited on January 27, 2017.
**** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, website last visited on December 20, 2017.
A leap year only comes around every four years and is a year with one extra day inserted into February. In a leap year, the calendar has 366 days with 29 days in February, not 28 days.
Start the day with a trip back in time to 46 B.C. to find out the confusing truth behind the origin of leap years.
Make the most of this year's bonus day with leaping fun math and science activities.
Math Rules for Leap Years
Which years are leap years? Here are three simple rules for determining the leap years.
- Every year divisible by 4 is a leap year
- But every year divisible by 100 is NOT a leap year
- Unless the year is also divisible by 400, then it is still a leap year.
Leap-Year Math Quiz
- List the next five leap years after 2012:
- Sara was born in 1988. What was the first leap year during her lifetime?
- Circle the years that were leap years: 1900, 1972, 1956, 1946, 1992, 1886, 1420, 1600
- List the next five century leap years:
- The day of the week that a date falls on usually skips forward one day the following year. January 1, 2011, was a Saturday; January 1, 2012, was a Sunday. But if there's a February 29 between the two dates, the day of the week "leaps" forward an extra day: January 1, 2013, will be on a Tuesday (instead of Monday). On which day will January 1 fall in...
BONUS: A leap year occurs every four years. Based on that information, about how many hours longer than 365 days do you think it takes Earth to revolve around the sun?
The answers are here!
Frogs for a Day
Leap Day is the perfect time to study frogs, toads, and other animals that leap.
- Jumpstart the day with this lesson plan All About Frogs. Students become familiar with all types of frogs and toads, how they develop, and how and where they survive.
- Take your students on an expedition for brightly colored dart poison frogs of Central and South America.
- Do you know how far frogs can jump? Are toads frogs? What's the world's largest frog? Your students can track down the answers to these Frog Fun Facts.
- Sing along with a chorus of frogs from Madagascar.
Answers to Scholastic Math quiz questions:
- 2016, 2020, 2024, 2028, 2032
- 1972, 1956, 1992, 1420,1600
- 2400, 2800, 3200, 3600, 4000
- a. Wednesday b. Sunday
BONUS: It takes about 365 days and 6 hours for Earth to revolve around the sun.
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