In the world of education, “early childhood” refers to the years from birth to age eight (third grade). A crucial time for learning, these first eight years are when children gain the fundamental understanding and abilities they’ll build upon for the rest of their lives.
With a degree in early childhood education, you can help children acquire important knowledge and social and emotional skills and expand their comprehension of the world. You can improve their abilities and their lives, which will in turn improve our society.
If that appeals to you, you may want to consider the range of early childhood education careers available to you. We’ve listed some of them below.
Choosing an Early Childhood Education Degree
Early childhood education careers depend on the degree(s) you earn, so it’s good to understand your options.
Baker College offers two early childhood education options:
- Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education (60 credit hours, 2 years, on campus)
- Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (120 credit hours, 4 years)
Is a Bachelor’s Degree Required to Teach Preschool?
It depends on the school, but according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, preschool teachers usually need at least an associate degree. Some schools require a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. According to the Bureau, at least 50 percent of all preschool teachers in Head Start programs nationwide must have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field, and those with a related-field degree need experience teaching preschool-age children.
Careers in Early Childhood Education
When you decide on a career in early childhood education, you get to make an important difference in the lives of children. Your early childhood education degree gives you many different career options, too. You can choose to work with children of particular ages or needs, and you can select the setting that suits you best.
Baker College ECE students typically already have an early childhood education job, or they are offered one before or upon graduation. Here are some roles to contemplate:
- Aide. You might also see this called teaching assistant or TA, instructional aide, or paraprofessional. The role is to help the teacher in many capacities, with the various tasks required in an early childhood educational environment.
- Assistant teacher. Some classrooms have more than one teacher—a lead and an assistant.
- Lead teacher. As a lead teacher, you coordinate and guide all the other teachers in a daycare center or preschool. You’re likely to be responsible for responding to parents’ concerns, handling administrative duties, and representing your grade or department in meetings with the school administration or board.
- Childcare center director. If you’re something of a visionary, and a people person with good organizational skills, you might want to turn your early childhood education bachelor’s degree into an opportunity to head up a preschool or daycare center.
With your early childhood education degree, you could work in any of these settings:
- Group home learning environments (up to 12 children)
- Faith-based preschools
- Secular preschools
- Child development centers
- Daycare centers
- Before/after care programs affiliated with both public and private K–12 schools
- Head Start programs (federally funded)
- Great Start Readiness Programs (state of Michigan funded)
One caveat here: The State of Michigan Intermediate School Districts typically oversee GSRPs and determine whether a GSRP lead teacher needs to be state certified with an early childhood endorsement. Requirements vary by school district.
Note that Michigan's Licensing and Regulatory Affairs body (LARA) has baseline requirements for early childhood education, but many programs decide to go "above and beyond" with their standards.
What Can You Do with an Early Childhood Education Degree Besides Teach?
An early childhood education degree can take you into many careers beyond teaching. In ECE classes, you’ll learn about how young children learn and develop, and you’ll learn about the wide world of education. Your skills can translate to a number of careers involving children and learning, including:
- Sales representative. With your insights into the education and development of young children, you could be a great candidate for selling learning materials to educational institutions.
- Educational consultant. With a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, you could advise organizations that want to provide childcare.
- Home-based service provider. Rather than a school, you might like to provide childcare services in a home setting. If you establish your own business, you can manage every aspect of the endeavor, including marketing, communicating with parents, and managing a safe, nurturing, educational environment for young children.
- Home visitor. Home visitors help parents provide a safe, nurturing environment where their children can play and learn, and they provide parents with information on pregnancy, parenting, children’s health and development, as well as available community resources and services.
- Child/family advocate. If children’s well-being is important to you, serving on their behalf as an advocate can be a deeply satisfying career.
Are you surprised by how many different kinds of early childhood education degree jobs are available to you? If you’d like to help children spend their early years expanding their abilities and developing their educational fundamentals, chances are there are some perfect early childhood education careers waiting for you.
How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher in Michigan. (2020, July 3). https://study.com/articles/how_to_become_a_kindergarten_teacher_in_michigan.html.
Requirements for Early Childhood Education Jobs in Michigan. https://www.preschoolteacher.org/michigan/.
Preschool Teachers: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2020, September 1). https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm.