Choosing Your Path (Part 2): Skills Needed to Thrive in ECE

We established in the first part of our Choosing Your Path series that you enjoy helping children. It’s also clear that you want a job in education that is both personally and financially rewarding. But have you thought about the skills you will need to obtain the career you want?

For example, do you know what it takes to be an effective early childhood education (ECE) teacher?

Being an effective ECE teacher requires a combination of soft and hard skills but also, some that are specific to the field.

Although some ECE careers differ from one another – e.g., a child care director vs. a preschool teacher – the skills needed to perform them often overlap. While these might be completely different careers, they both require the ability to care for children and provide a comfortable and safe learning environment.

The chart below examines the five most popular ECE careers we featured in the first part of our series. But this time, it illustrates the skills employers are looking for from candidates for each of the careers.


The chart illustrates that the skills required for different ECE careers can sometimes be quite specific. For example, an infant lead teacher and a child care director are both careers in ECE, but they deal with two separate age groups and lesson planning is a main skill of an infant lead teacher, not a child care director.

So, if you are wondering how to leverage your skills into a career in ECE, consider these questions:

  • Which of the in-demand ECE skills from the above graph do you already possess? Did you ever serve as a nanny to the neighbor kids or work in a church nursery? Be sure to take those examples with you to future interviews.
  • Can you take one of your soft skills and turn it into one of the hard skills listed above? Are you part of a team in your current job? Are there any parts of your current job that require you to lead a team or oversee a process? Take your teamwork mentality and your leadership experience and apply those qualities to your desired role.

Hopefully the second installment of the Choosing Your Path series helps you understand more about what it will take to get into the ECE field. 

If you have further questions on in-demand ECE skills, take a look at the top tech skills for ECE teachers. Alternatively, download the 2013 Career Guide to Education for more information on ECE careers.

Be sure to look for the third part of the Choosing Your Path series, “In-Demand ECE Job Locations,” and as always, feel free to comment below with any questions or chat with us on our School of Education Facebook page!

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Kendall Bird is an Online Community Specialist for Rasmussen College. With her Bachelor’s degree in public relations and a passion for social media, she enjoys writing motivating and enthusiastic blog content to encourage future, current and former students to learn more about their discipline of study. Kendall’s ultimate goal is to generate a positive community through blogging to promote learning and change lives.

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