Guide to Early Childhood Education Degrees
Education is an essential sector in the country and forms the foundation of all other professions. While schooling at the high school and university levels is essential for success in some fields, having a good foundation in early childhood education sets students up for long-term success.
There are different levels in the educational career you can pursue. These options depend on your qualifications and what you are passionate about, and you must carefully consider the level of education required to pursue your dreams. Most fields require adequate education before coming back to practice as a professional in this industry, so it’s important to have some idea of what you need to do.
One of the most common levels of practice in the education sector is early childhood education. Early childhood education involves teaching children in their early days of school life. It is a technical profession as you need both teaching and nursing skills to achieve the best results. With the current changes in lifestyles, children enter school life at a very young age, which implies that early education professionals have to master dealing with young children to keep them comfortable and induce a positive attitude towards learning.
There are different levels you can practice at as an early childhood education professional. These levels depend on your academic qualification. One of the most common academic qualifications for this profession is a bachelor’s degree. However, you can practice with a certificate or an associate degree from a recognized institution. You might not be licensed to practice without a bachelor’s degree. Advancing your education to higher degrees increases your chances of rising through the career ranks.
To understand early childhood education degrees in detail, we explore the following:
- What you can do with an early childhood education degree
- Types of early childhood education degrees and certifications
- Career paths available in early childhood education
- Top early childhood education degree programs
What You Can Do with An Early Childhood Education Degree
Understanding your duties and responsibilities as a professional is one of the most important things in any career. It helps you prepare mentally and physically for the environment you will be exposed to after work. Like in other professions, your duties and responsibilities in the early childhood education career depend on your level of education. There are many roles you will perform with a bachelor’s degree. These roles are standard for all degree holders, whether online college degrees or ones obtained from on-campus studies.
There are many job opportunities in the early childhood education profession. Most of these jobs require the basic skills learned during bachelor’s degree programs. However, you might need additional training to work in some institutions. Some of the most common workplaces for early childhood education professionals include:
- Daycares and Preschools
With consistent changes in lifestyles and increasing cost of living, many parents are busy trying to make ends meet. This phenomenon has increased the demand for caregivers to look after children in the absence of the parents. Daycares seek to address this demand for parents that cannot afford to pay a nanny to stay at home. This early childhood setting typically caters to all children who are not old enough to be in school during the hours that their parents are at work.
Preschool is a different path than daycare for an early childhood educator, although the two programs have many features that overlap. While daycare centers more on tending to a young child while their parents are at work and also teaching them educational foundations, a preschool teacher spends only a few hours a day with their class but focuses more on teaching skills. With an early childhood education degree, you can help care for these children and teach them the skills they need as they begin formal schooling. The skills and knowledge you acquire pursuing your degree as an early childhood education teacher make it easy to care for children and guide them on basic learning concepts.
Kindergartens are essential institutions within the early education sector. Although they both deal with children, kindergartens are very different from daycares. Kindergartens prepare kids for school life. In most cases, only children between the ages of 4 to 6 are allowed to attend these institutions, unlike daycares which cater to children as young as one year. Kindergartens focus on identifying the talents and potential of children before joining formal education, which helps mold them into students who are excited about pursuing their passions. You can work as a kindergarten teacher after completing a degree as an early childhood education major. In this education program, your role will be guiding children to ensure their learning abilities are well established before joining different schools.
There are many other institutions you can work for with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. This career is intertwined with the medical field and therefore provides wider employment opportunities. For instance, you can work in a pediatric hospital to help take care of learning needs for hospitalized children. Some terminally ill children are not allowed to leave the medical institutions and therefore need to be tutored within the institution or in their homes. In the medical field, someone with a degree in psychology can take care of children since they have adequate skills to notice when children aren’t okay.
For success in your career as a professional in the early childhood education field, there are some skills you must have. These skills determine the quality of services you offer to those under your care. While you learn some skills in school while studying early childhood development, you develop and perfect others as you practice in the field. Some of the essential qualities you need for success in this field include:
- Psychology skills- Early childhood education degree programs involve psychology principles. As a professional in this field, you need adequate skills to detect changes and discomfort in children you deal with. Children are not effective communicators; they need attention from someone who can tell what they need without speaking up.
- Teaching skills- The main aim of early childhood education is to prepare children for future learning. Teaching skills are essential as you need to introduce the children under your care to new concepts about education. It is your duty as an early childhood education professional to ensure children understand the required content.
After attaining your degree and skills from a training program, you need a license to practice as a professional. The degree you pursue determines the skills you acquire. Therefore, consulting career experts is essential before starting your degree program. Consultations allow you to decide on the best specialization to follow.
Types Of Early Childhood Education Degrees and Certifications
As stated earlier, your duties and responsibilities in the early childhood education field depend on your specialization. There are various specializations in this field that affect where you work once you graduate. Additionally, your level of education will determine your duties in this field, implying that you must pay close attention when selecting a specialization to avoid entering the wrong career path. The profitability of your degree program depends on the marketability, which varies depending on the specialization you choose. If you want higher lifetime earnings, you should major in more technical fields. The nature of the degree you have could also affect how much you earn and how fast you rise through ranks. Some common degrees you can have for a career in early childhood education include:
- Associate degrees
Associate degree programs are the minimum academic qualifications you need for any industry. You can often get these degrees from recognized trade schools. Although you can perform certain functions in early childhood education, you cannot be licensed as an independent professional with this degree. Associate degree programs in early childhood education take up to two years to complete. However, you might take longer, depending on the institution you enroll in and the mode of study you choose.
- Bachelor’s degrees
This degree is the most common and essential qualification if you need to practice as a professional in this career. There are several bachelor’s degree majors you can pursue and practice in the early childhood education sector, including school psychology and early childhood education. The specialization you major in during your studies determines your roles in the professional field. Various institutions offer bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education. You should consult experts and practicing professionals to select the best program in which to enroll. It takes up to four years to complete a bachelor’s degree program in early childhood education.
- Master’s degree and PhD
These are higher education qualifications that allow you to practice at high positions within the field. Master’s and PhDs involve specialization in certain areas that affect child growth and learning. Most master’s degree holders work in managerial and supervisory positions in early childhood education institutions. With a Ph.D., you can work for the government or as an independent consultant and will have a role to play in the formulation of the early childhood curriculum. Additionally, you will be involved in making policies that govern the operations of early childhood education institutions.
There are several other academic qualifications that you might need for practice. These certificates are mostly awarded as you advance your skills through training programs. When comparing a certificate versus a degree, there are several factors you should consider. The main one being what roles the qualification allows you to perform in the profession. In most cases, a degree allows you to perform a wider range of duties.
There are many reasons why early childhood education is regarded as a career path on its own. There are various forms of education, special needs education is one of them. Early childhood education differs from other forms of education in several ways. However, the main difference is the age of students you deal with during practice. Early childhood education requires specialized training to deal with individuals with minimal ability to learn and internalize concepts. It is a preparatory stage in children’s educational life. Therefore, it requires expertise on how to instill learning skills and the right attitude in children for their future in the education system.
Early childhood education degree programs have different benefits. How much you benefit from your career depends on how much you invest in education. Some of the common factors that distinguish degrees in early childhood education include:
- Technicalities involved in the program- Degree programs cover different areas of study. Some degrees focus on complex aspects of early childhood education, including psychology and general child mental development. Some programs are to prepare professionals to work with children in need of special care. Special early childhood education is more complicated and profitable than other specializations.
- Expenses involved- When estimating the returns of investment made in education, you have to assess how much you spend. The expenditure includes time and monetary input given to facilitate your training up to the time of licensing. Some programs are expensive as they involve high tuition fees and time spent studying.
Other differences could be seen in the duties one performs at the workplace. Student psychology majors mainly deal with mental wellness. On the other hand, tutors help students acquire new skills and knowledge necessary for their next educational level.
Career Paths Available in Early Childhood Education
When entering a career field, it is everyone’s goal to rise above the ranks as a professional. There are various career paths you can follow to the peak as a professional in early childhood education. These paths could vary depending on the specialization you choose and your entry-level into the profession. If you join the profession at the lowest level, associate degree, you might take longer to reach the peak of your career. Some specializations require several years of practice before you can rise to the next level. Here is a common career path you can follow in the early childhood education profession.
- Complete your high school education
High school is the foundation for every profession. It is at the high school level that you decide which career path to pursue after graduation. If you intend to venture into early childhood education, there are things to consider at the high school level. One of these is the subjects needed for admission into colleges or universities for your degree program. Higher learning institutions have set academic requirements that you must fulfill before being admitted. These requirements could vary depending on your institution of choice. However, the most common requirements are a good GPA and recommendations from the high school you attended. Career experts play an essential role at the high school level. They guide students on which specializations to major in depending on their abilities and passion.
- Attain an undergraduate degree
An undergraduate degree is a minimal requirement for professional practice in early childhood education. There are two types of undergraduate degrees: associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees. The responsibilities of these two degrees vary. Associate degree holders perform less technical duties since their training is not as detailed as that for bachelor’s degrees. Additionally, the cost of these degrees varies depending on factors such as the duration and technicality of your specialization. You can get cheap online degrees from various institutions. If you intend to study online, you should find an institution that guarantees excellent training for employability.
- Get professional licensing and certification.
Education is an essential sector with a lot of government interest. The government regulates the operations of different stakeholders in this industry through licensing and certification. Once you have attained your undergraduate degree, you must obtain a practicing license from relevant bodies. Licenses and certifications vary depending on specialization and level of practice. All professionals, including preschool teachers, must initiate the licensing process once they complete their undergraduate training. Most of the licensing requirements are standard across all states. However, there might be slight variations depending on regulations and state administration policies.
- Get higher education qualifications.
One of the sure ways to rise through career ranks is by advancing your skills and knowledge in certain aspects of your profession. In early childhood education, you can move on to the master’s and Ph.D. levels. These qualifications allow you to practice in administrative and managerial positions. There is a growing need for early childhood professionals resulting from the increased population and changes in lifestyle. Therefore, keeping your skills updated and advanced places you in a better position to remain relevant in the industry.
How long you take to reach the peak of your career depends on several factors. The main one being your efforts and self-drive. Decisions such as advancing education require commitment both physically, mentally, and financially.
Top Early Childhood Education Degree Programs
After deciding on a career path or specialization to pursue, selecting the right institution to enroll in is the hardest task you might face. There are many institutions, including nonprofit online colleges, offering degree programs in early childhood education. For this reason, it might be challenging to find one that suits you best. There are several factors you should consider before selecting an institution to enroll in. These factors are significant whether you are pursuing an associate degree or higher levels of study. they include:
- Availability of your desired specialization
As stated earlier, there are various specializations you can major in while pursuing a career in early childhood education. Although most institutions offer training programs, it is rare to find all the specializations in a single institution. Some technical specializations involve a lot of investment in terms of teaching facilities and equipment. You won’t find them in most institutions. When signing up for a degree program, you should ensure the institution offers training in your desired specialization.
There are different forms of learning depending on your preference and the institution’s policies. If you intend to attend an online degree program, you should ensure your institution of choice offers one. The institution should be well equipped with tutors and reading material to cater to online students.
- Quality of training offered
The main marketing point for professionals in any field is their skills. The skills you acquire at school determine your employability. For this reason, you should pay close attention to the quality of training offered when selecting an institution. There are certain skills that employers look for when selecting entry-level employees. Attending an institution that focuses on these skills increases your marketability. Renowned institutions organize internships for their students; this provides an opportunity to interact with potential employers.
- Cost of training
Financial considerations are essential when deciding on a career path. Understanding the financial implications of certain degree programs helps you gauge the profitability of the course you enroll in. Additionally, finances determine how comfortable you will be throughout your study period, allowing you to choose a program favorable to your financial stability. Expenditures on education come in different forms. The main expense is tuition fees; it varies depending on the nature of the program you enroll in. Other expenses include rent, food, and commuting charges. There are cheaper degree programs you can enroll in depending on your financial status. Most of these programs are online; thus, you will not spend money on rent and commuting charges. You can explore student financial aid programs in cases where you find your program too expensive. Such programs include scholarships and grants from the government and other organizations.
- Duration of training
Various factors determine how long a training program in early childhood education lasts. The duration of a program directly affects your professional and financial life. Some programs take longer than others, depending on the technicalities involved. Modes of learning also determine how long it takes to complete learning. For instance, enrolling in part-time studies implies that you will stay longer in school. In this case, you cover little content within a given time as the programs tailor to cater to students with little time to spare for classes. Most institutions only allow part-time studies for advanced educational levels, that is, Master’s degrees and Ph.D.
There are many other factors to consider when selecting a school to enroll in for your degree program, including personal preferences. However, the above are the most common factors considered by students and professionals in this field. You need to consult those who went through your institution of choice for better information about the program. College settings vary from one institution to another. Therefore, having general information about a college could be insufficient when deciding on an institution that suits you best.
Different schools have invested in degree programs to different extents. Some schools invest significantly in offering bachelor’s degrees, while others are focused on offering associate degree programs. Most associate degree programs are obtained in trade institutions. However, universities and colleges are involved to offset the rising demand for trade workers in early childhood education. Some of the best institutions offering associate degree programs in early childhood education include:
- San Diego State University- This is one of the best institutions to enroll in for various degree programs in the education sector. San Diego State University is known for offering exemplary training for associate degree students. The institution has an extensive network of industry players that guarantee internship placement for students. With a graduation rate of over 70%, this institution is the best within San Diego. The tuition fee for associate degree programs in early childhood education range between $7000 and $19,000.
- Colorado State University- Every student enrolling in a program wishes to achieve the best training. That is what Colorado State University has been known for for over a century. The institution has well-maintained facilities and tutors to provide training for students in associate degree programs. This institution has a graduate rate of over 84% in early childhood education degree programs.
There are many other institutions you can enroll in for your degree programs. Analyzing the graduation rate of the institution allows you to tell the possibilities of completing the training program. You can read about institutions offering degree programs in early childhood education on the internet. This will give you detailed information about the programs and policies involved.
Early childhood education is a fundamental component of education. It prepares children for entry into the school system. There are different levels at which you can practice in childhood education. These levels depend on your academic qualifications and skills. With higher academic qualifications, you can hold managerial and supervisory positions. The most common employers of early childhood education professionals are daycares and kindergartens. These institutions focus on the development of children at the initial stages of their educational life. The government has a lot of interest in the education sector. Therefore, it controls the practices of professionals involved through licensing. You can get your professional license after completing your education. However, you won’t be licensed to practice as an independent professional without a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.
To rise through your career, you must advance your education to master’s and Ph.D. levels. Updating your education and skills keeps you relevant in the industry for a long time. You can advance your skills through short courses and workshops organized by stakeholders in the industry. One of the main aspects to consider when selecting a specialization is finances. Your financial status determines how comfortable you will be during your study period. In cases where you can’t afford to pay for a program, you can seek student financial aid. The government and other organizations offer scholarships, grants, and student loans to financially disadvantaged individuals. The duration of the training program affects its general cost. Finding specializations that take a shorter time saves money and allows you more time for professional practice.