It’s no secret—kids can be incredibly fun to work with!
This is one of the reasons why teaching preschool is an exceptionally rewarding career. Children’s energy and enthusiasm is infectious and there’s a sense of pride knowing you’ve nurtured the development of a young person.
You’re probably already aware of this information. But there is one thing you don’t know: how to become a preschool teacher. That’s where we come in. We created this handy guide to help you answer that very question.
Consider this your lesson plan containing everything you’ll need to know to get your career started.
Education & training for preschool teachers
Certification and licensing requirements for preschool teachers vary by state and school, though the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) highlights two common certifications: the CDA from the Council for Professional Recognition or the Child Care Professional (CCP) designation from the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation.
It’s true you may be able to find work at a pre-k center with just a high school diploma, however earning a child development associate (CDA) certificate demonstrates to employers your dedication to your career and the field.
However, if you’ve got your heart set on becoming a head teacher or even a center director, an early childhood education (ECE) degree can help give you a leg up on your competition.
Skills needed to be a preschool teacher
Your interest in becoming a preschool teacher indicates that you’ve probably worked with children in the past or young ones of your own. Experience working with kids is essential, but it takes more than a love of kiddos to make it in the ECE industry.
We analyzed 37,615 job postings to identify the skills employers are seeking most from preschool teaching candidates.* Here’s what we found:
In addition to some skills you’d expect – like child care and first aid – there are some important administrative skills you’ll need to succeed as well. As a preschool teacher you’ll have to develop lesson plans for each day and maintain organized records on your pupils. You’ll also need to be mindful of budgets and be proactive about continuing to develop as a professional.
Daily duties of a preschool teacher
Now you know the child-related and administrative skills you’ll need as a preschool teacher, but how will you put those skills to use?
As we established already, it’s more than just playing with children all day. Some of your job duties will include:
- Maintaining order in the classroom
- Evaluating children’s performance on educational tasks
- Developing lesson plans
- Attending professional meetings & conferences
- Leading children in educational activities
- Identifying children with special needs & adapting lesson plans accordingly
- Buying proper classroom materials at the start of the year & replenishing as necessary
- Discussing children’s development with parents
Preschool teacher job outlook
There’s no shortage of ECE career opportunities for those with the right training and passion for working with kids. Preschool teachers can expect a stable career outlook, according to the BLS. It’s projected that employment of preschool teachers will grow at a steady rate of 10 percent through 2026. The BLS attributes this to an increasing 3-to-5-year-old population.
You should realize that although preschool teacher jobs are available, one’s not likely to simply fall into your lap. Be proactive about finding your own opportunities by networking, volunteering or joining professional ECE associations so you can finally land the career you want. And of course, don’t take your college support team for granted—career services advisors can help job-seekers in a myriad of ways, from ECE resume help to finding jobs that might be a good fit for you.
Ready to get in the classroom?
Does learning more how to become a preschool teacher affirm your desire to pursue this profession? Now that you’ve done your homework, it’s time to take the next step toward acquiring the knowledge and hands-on experience needed to succeed in the classroom.
A college education can be what sets you apart from others seeking a preschool teacher position. Rasmussen College's flexible, competency-based learning options can make earning your degree simpler than you might think—check out the Early Childhood Education degree page to learn more.
*Source: Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 37,615 preschool teacher job postings, Jun. 20, 2014 - Jun. 17, 2015)
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in Feb. 2014. It has since been updated.