A master’s degree in early childhood education will prepare you to work as a qualified educator for young children between birth and kindergarten. Early childhood is a crucial period of education for students as they establish good learning habits and begin to develop in education. With a master’s degree in early childhood education, you’ll be empowered to positively impact young children, setting them on a strong educational path for the rest of their lives.
The Benefits of a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
With a master’s degree in early childhood education, you’ll have your pick of opportunities available to preschool educators. As preschool education is often provided by private organizations that determine their requirements for education and training among school professionals, minimum educational requirements will vary. But a master’s degree in early childhood education typically stands out as significant.
Teachers at this grade level with a master’s degree are highly valued, and are likely to be offered positions in lead teaching roles. And if you have your sights set on becoming a preschool administrator, a master’s degree is typically necessary to pursue the role. Both of these opportunities offer early childhood teachers better pay.
Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degree Curriculum
Course curriculum will be specific to your early childhood education degree, but many online programs cover the latest theories on:
- language and literacy
- health and nutrition
- infant development
- early childhood learning
Some programs encourage candidates to focus on a particular area of interest, such as special education or English language learning. Overall, an early childhood education online program should prepare candidates for real world teaching, whether that’s in an urban Head Start setting or a rural child care center. To that end, many prominent schools require students to complete an internship or classroom practicum before graduation.
Trends in Early Childhood Education
Although funding has improved over the past few decades, recent deficits in state budgets mean fewer dollars for public pre-K programs. According to a 2012 report from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), 19 out of 40 states with pre-K programs have had to reduce their per-child funding. However, some states, such as Georgia, continue to support voluntary full-day or universal preschool programs that are free to all children.
There is an increasing body of research showing the importance of educated early childhood staff who provide opportunities for unstructured play, stimulating experiences, and developmental assessment and assistance from birth. Teachers are also exploring how best to integrate smart technology and interactive tools into the classroom.
Requirements for Teaching Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education teaching requirements differ according to each teacher’s role, educational setting, and state. Early childhood educators can obtain:
- An associate, undergraduate, or graduate degree in early childhood education or child development
- A demonstration of competency like the National Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential
- Early childhood certification or endorsement from a qualified teacher training program
State licensing bodies often demand that early childhood teachers earn a degree and complete college coursework before obtaining certification. Private institutions have more varied requirements. Some employers might offer and/or require additional training in early childhood learning or specific curricula.
Careers in Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education usually mixes free play and make-believe with more structured educational activities. In addition to art, music, drama and dance, teachers provide age-appropriate introductions to languages, math and science. Educators may facilitate group activities, or work with children one on one.
A master’s degree in early childhood education will open you up to opportunities as an educator of students at the youngest level. Teachers who have earned a master’s degree in early childhood education will be qualified to take on career pursuits including:
- preschool director
- preschool administrator
- child care center director
- preschool teacher
- lead teacher
Early Childhood Education Career Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that employment of preschool teachers will grow by 17 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. This is due to a bump in the pre-K population and a growing focus on the importance of early childhood education.
Qualified early childhood educators work in public and private preschools, elementary schools, in religious and civic organizations and in day care centers. The median pay for day care center teachers is $$27,130. Educators who’ve completed postsecondary education or possess other credentials are generally in greater demand and may receive higher pay.