How Long Does It Take To Become An Early Childhood Educator?

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    There are few jobs as rewarding as watching young children thrive in a learning environment. The same way we love to watch seeds sprout, it's fulfilling to watch children read their first page, become socially intelligent, learn new words, and begin their education. 

    If you enjoy working with children and have a passion for education, consider becoming a kindergarten teacher. To do so, you will need to meet certain education requirements and possibly obtain your state teaching certificate. Since both will take time, it's important to consider how much time you'll have to invest in going down this career path. 

    Most of us remember some parts of our early childhood; all of us recognize that we wouldn't be who we are now if it wasn't for our first teachers and our education in general. If it weren't for the precise theories that command our early development, our lives might look very different today.

    It's not surprising, then, that many of us aspire to become one of the teachers whom we consider so influential. But what does it take to become an early childhood educator? First, of course, most of us know about the school component: a bachelor's degree in early childhood education is the first suggested step for any aspiring preschool teacher. 

    Note here, though, that an associate degree or even a high school diploma may suffice as a requirement. But if you want the best preparation for becoming a preschool teacher, you should obtain a bachelor's degree. But a degree or diploma won't be the last step for most people on their quest to teach preschool.

    History of Early Childhood Education Degrees 


    The concept of early childhood education was first implemented by a German teacher, Friedrich Froebel, who started the first kindergarten in 1837. Froebel applied the 'hands-on learning' approach by allowing children to interact and learn through action and observation.

    This concept was labelled 'self-activity and emphasized that a child should be allowed to follow their interests, explore surroundings, and learn through direct action. Thus, the teacher acts as a guide instead of a lecturer. 

    Thanks to the fantastic results Froebel achieved, early childhood education spread around the world, and the concepts developed more than a century ago are still actively employed in this sector today.

    Early childhood education also prepares a child for school life by introducing children to a classroom, following timetables, allowing children to work together and instilling a sense of discipline and responsibility while maintaining a fun environment that is conducive to a child's development.

    What are Early Childhood Education Degrees?

    As its name suggests, early childhood education degrees focus on providing a strong educational base to young children. Early childhood education started as a result of several studies conducted by various government organizations, including the Department of Education.

    These studies indicate that the years before a child goes to kindergarten are the most critical for developing their learning abilities and forming a personality that can have positive or negative effects in the future.

    As such, an increasing trend is seen to educate children to develop a naturally inquisitive nature and an aptitude for learning that will help them succeed in school. 

    The Department of Education has successfully tested several early childhood education programs, which conclusively prove that the children who receive some form of early childhood education outperform fellow students who did not obtain any formal education at a young age.

    In addition, the National Research Center on Early Childhood Education suggests that starting education at a young age helps kick-start the learning process and enables children to develop intellectual and social abilities that they can use for the rest of their lives.

    Early childhood education is also vital in discovering learning difficulties and treating them promptly to ensure that they are not a problem for a child.

    How Long Does It Take To Get An Early Childhood Education Degree?

    The amount of time it takes to get an early childhood education degree depends on the program you choose. For instance, an associate degree would take two years to complete, a bachelor of science in early childhood education would take four years, and a master's degree would take two years.

    Many accredited colleges and universities also offer online degrees in early childhood education.

    Most early childhood education programs can be completed in as little as 2 years. Throughout your program, you'll take several interesting classes and get hands-on teaching experience to prepare you for some future careers. Whether you want to teach in a traditional classroom takes about 2 years to earn an associate's degree in early childhood education (ECE), generally the minimum education required to work as a preschool teacher.

    Education requirements for working as a preschool teacher vary by state and according to where a school gets its funding. Earning a bachelor's degree in ECE, which takes about 4 years would make you more competitive in the job market.

    You might consider earning an associate's degree in order to get the first position in a preschool and continuing with your studies in the evening to earn a bachelor's degree.

    You might also consider gaining a Child Development Associate (CDA) certification, which would put you ahead of the potential competition who only hold an associate's degree. Environment or even travel the world teaching the next generation, and there's something for you here.

    It typically takes four years to become a kindergarten teacher if you attend college right after high school.

    This is because you'll need a bachelor's degree to become a teacher and undergraduate programs typically take four years to complete. However, depending on your course load, you could potentially obtain your bachelor's degree in three years.

    It's also possible that you may need a state teaching certificate to become a kindergarten teacher. You can earn your certificate during your undergraduate studies. Suppose the undergraduate program you're enrolled in is relevant to your field. In that case, you may only need to take a couple of courses, pass the certification exam and complete the teacher preparation program.

    If you don't pass your certification tests by graduation, you'll need to retake them in time for the coming school year. In some cases, you could be hired for a job without your certificate, though your employer will require you to obtain it within a given period.

    If you don't have a bachelor's degree in the area, you plan to teach and follow an alternative teaching certification program. This can take anywhere from one to two years.

    You may also be required to have a master's degree. If this is the case, it will take one to two additional years on top of the time it took to obtain your bachelor's degree and certification.

    The path toward becoming a kindergarten teacher will greatly vary in regards to time. However, it will typically take four to eight years.

    Courses You Will Take

    Early childhood education requires a very broad skill set. You'll be expected to know several subjects, including art, history, social studies, and music. Each ECE program is slightly different, but using Athena Career Academy as an example, here's what you can expect.

    During our program, you'll take 55 credit hours of core ECE classes along with 37 credit hours of general education classes for a total of 92 credit hours. Each year will be separated into 4 quarters: Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. You can start the program during any quarter.

    Throughout the program, you'll learn about the theory of education, art, child development, infant care, and special needs education, among other things. Once you graduate, you'll officially have an Associates Degree in Applied Science (AAS) with a concentration in Early Childhood Education.

    Preschool Teacher Degree Options

    Each state sets its requirements for becoming a licensed preschool teacher. Most states require a 2-year associate's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some childcare centres only require a high school diploma and a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.

    However, in some cases, a bachelor's degree in early childhood education may be required to teach preschool.

    The BLS reports that a growing number of teachers with Head Start programs, those designed to make sure children from low-income families are ready for school, have a bachelor's degree in early childhood education. Public preschools also typically require a bachelor's degree.

    Even if not required, holding a bachelor's degree can improve your job prospects and pay. In addition, many community colleges and 4-year universities offer early childhood education majors in both associate's and bachelor's degree tracks.

    Earning Preschool Teacher Credentials

    The Council for Professional Development issues the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, which is a requirement for preschool teachers in many states. To achieve this credential, you must have completed 120 hours of early education training for children ages 3-5 within the last five years. You must also have worked 480 hours in a group setting with children ages 3-5 within this same time frame.

    In addition, in the six months before completing your CDA application, you need to complete a formal observation with a CDA advisor, collect portfolio materials. Finally, you have your students' parents complete reviews of your performance.

    According to the BLS, the Child Care Professional (CCP) designation, which is offered by the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation Commission, is also accepted in some areas. To qualify for the CCP, you'll need a high school diploma, coupled with additional education courses and fieldwork experience.

    What Are The Requirements To Get An Early Childhood Education Degree?

    The credit hour requirements to get an early childhood education degree to depend on the degree you choose. For instance, to complete a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, you will typically need to take up around 120 credit hours in four years. The courses you are likely to take are Language Development in Early Childhood, Beginning Literacy, Language Arts and Reading for Early Childhood, Child Health and Safety, Science for Young Children and so on.

    Careers in Early Childhood Education Degrees

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of early childhood education has grown at an unprecedented rate during the past decades. It is expected to continue this growth through the next two decades.


    As a result, employment opportunities within the field of early childhood education are expected to increase by more than 18% through 2020, which is one of the highest average growth rates among all professions.

    Early childhood education specialists normally obtain an associate's or bachelor's degree in early childhood education, after which they can undertake an exam to obtain a teaching license.

    Some students also go on to obtain master's degrees in early childhood education, which allow specialization in areas such as education for special children or curriculum development.

    Graduates with a degree in early childhood education enjoy a variety of career options, including working with children of different ages, from kindergarten up to the second or third grade, or working with state or federal education bodies to develop early childhood education.

    Experiences You Will Have

    Early childhood education is about more than just classroom learning, and you'll have the opportunity to pursue many hours of hands-on experience that includes training in art, music, and lesson planning. In addition, by the time you graduate, you'll be certified in first aid, CPR, child abuse prevention, and infectious diseases.

    At Athena, you'll also pursue 120 hours of contact with children at an approved Child Development Center. Once you're finished, you'll all the experience and knowledge necessary to seamlessly transition into your first job.

    How It Compares To Other Degrees

    You can earn a degree in early childhood education in as little as two years. This is a more effective use of your time than a four-year university program, especially if early childhood education is your primary interest.

    Once you have your degree, there are several careers you can move into, and if you wish to pursue further education later down the line, you are in a great position to do so.

    Here are some tips for what to consider when choosing the right centre for your child.
    1. Determine the type of childcare service you are looking for. ...
    2. Type of Education and Philosophy. ...
    3. Location of the childcare centre. ...
    4. Availability & Waiting List. ...
    5. Childcare Costs. ...
    6. Flexibility. ...
    7. Licencing and Registration.

    When choosing a childcare centre, you as the parent have the right to expect it will provide a safe, supportive place for your child's self-identity and awareness to grow. It's important that educators in your choice of centre value each child's individual interests and opinions and treat them with respect and love.

    A high-quality childcare center has a friendly and warm environment conducive to learning. Be sure to pick a daycare with clean and sanitary buildings and classrooms. Check their toys and learning materials to make sure they are safe and child-friendly.

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