If you want to become a kindergarten teacher, it can be hard to decide which bachelor’s degree to earn to get you there. A bachelor’s in early childhood education or a degree in elementary education can qualify you to teach kindergarten. But each may lead you into different teaching environments, with different potential salaries and different opportunities for advancement. Here’s an overview that can help you decide which of these two teaching degrees will help you meet your needs as you work on your kindergarten teacher qualifications.
Early Childhood Education Degree
Most bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education qualify you to teach and care for children from infancy or toddlerhood through kindergarten, and, in some cases, as high as third grade. Many states offer early childhood licensure, although it is not required to teach in most preschools. Licensure is, however, essential to teach in a public school setting, and some states may require elementary education licensure on top of that. This degree has a more narrow focus than an elementary ed. degree, in that it’s specifically tailored to learn about the educational and developmental needs of preschool-aged children.
If you earn this degree, you’ll learn about developing children’s minds through art, music, storytelling and the basic building blocks of academia: numbers, letters, colors and shapes. This degree is great for teachers who love the preschool setting and want to specifically focus their energies on the kindergarten classroom and curriculum. Instead of teaching the more rigid academics of older elementary grades, teaching kindergarten in many ways bridges the gap between preschool and elementary school and provides an important foundation for each student’s future learning attitudes and experiences.
Elementary Education Degree
Earning an elementary education bachelor’s degree can qualify you to teach grades kindergarten through sixth grade, and in some cases, through eighth grade. In order to teach in most schools, especially public schools, elementary education licensure is also required. This degree has a much broader scope than a degree in early childhood education, since teaching methods and techniques vary greatly among the grades you can teach with it. So in addition to learning how to teach younger children like kindergarteners, you’ll also be learning how to teach a variety of subjects to older grades (up through middle school, in some cases) as well.
If you choose an elementary education degree, you’ll have to learn how to teach subjects like science, math, history and English in addition to methods of teaching younger children. While this makes you more versatile, you won’t be focusing only on the preschool/kindergarten-specific pedagogy, even though it may be your top interest. Instead of just learning about methods of teaching preschool children, your training will include teaching five-year-olds through twelve-year-olds, in most cases. You may also have to accept that you may not get a student teaching placement within kindergarten, and your first job could be teaching another grade as well. However, this degree could make finding a job easier, as it covers twice as many grades as an early childhood education degree.
Kindergarten Teacher’s Work Environment
Many early childhood education majors teach kindergarten in a preschool setting that includes a preschool and a kindergarten, but no higher grades. It is possible to teach kindergarten in a public elementary school with an early childhood degree (with licensure). But in today’s climate of budget cutbacks in the educational system, this is becoming less of a reality, since teachers are frequently moved around from grade to grade to accommodate a shrinking workforce. So if you love the specific environment of a preschool, a degree in early childhood education is best. If, however, you like the idea of being in an elementary school setting and don’t mind the possibility of teaching grades other than kindergarten, then a degree in elementary education would be a better choice.
Kindergarten Teaching Salary and Benefits
The typical salary for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is about $59,000. acccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while those teaching in religious schools make about $10,000. less. But salary numbers don’t tell the whole story. Public school teachers tend to have much more solid benefit packages, which means they allow you to make more money in real terms as an early childhood teacher. “Perks” like the kind of strong healthcare and retirement packages you can get from working in a unionized public school’s kindergarten can make your career path much more profitable. If you want to work as kindergarten teacher in any public elementary school or in most private ones, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree.
Pre-School Teaching Salaries
Pre-school teachers make a good deal less: about $30,000. per year according to USBLS. But pre-school salaries vary widely, with some pre-schools paying just over $21,000. and others paying teacher salaries above $55,000. Pre-school can be a great place to work if you have a particular love of working with very young children. Another attraction is that the typical pre-school teaching requirement is only an associate’s degree, which obviously takes less of an investment on your part to obtain than a bachelor’s degree.
Early Childhood Education Salary With A Masters
Does a graduate degree increase your earning potential if you’re teaching in kindergarten or another early childhood environment? There isn’t a simple answer to this question. One of the most widely quoted sources for data on this is salary.com, which pegs the typical salary for a kindergarten teacher who has either a master’s or an MBA at $55,345. to $61,299. per year. But it’s an odd choice to lump teaching master’s and MBAs into one category, since very, very few teachers at an early childhood level have a business degree.
A teaching master’s degree can increase your advancement potential, qualifying you to become a specialist or administrator. It’s also a sort of “public secret” that if you are a classroom teacher with a master’s and an administration job comes available in your district, you’ll probably find out about it before it’s advertised publicly and get a chance to apply for it before anyone outside the district.
Again, working in a public school environment is likely to give a greater salary benefit for a higher degree. That’s because public school systems not only pay higher base salaries than most private schools, they also tend to have have more standardized systems in place for tying salaries to a teacher’s educational attainment. In other words, in a public school, it’s more likely that getting a master’s or a specialized certification will lead you to get an automatic salary boost.
Can You Become A Kindergarten Teacher Online?
It is definitely possible to get your bachelor’s degree in education online, although you will probably need to complete several work and certification requirements in the state where you intend to work to actually start earning your living by teaching in class. Online teacher colleges can offer you options to get through your education faster in many cases than traditional schools, because they tend to have many adult students who are in a hurry to complete a career change, and tend to offer more options for accelerated degrees.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Kindergarten Teacher?
It will normally take you four years to earn a bachelor’s degree to teach kindergarten. In addition to your degree in early childhood or a closely related subject, you’ll need to complete your student teaching requirements and certification tests, which vary from one state to another, to realize your goal of becoming a full-fledged kindergarten teacher. Here’s a look at all the key steps involved.
The time investment to get your degree to become a teacher is generally four years. You may be able to get into kindergarten teaching with an early childhood education degree or some other type of education degrees. But virtually all such programs, be they either nBA (Bachelor of Arts) or BS (Bachelor of Science), will usually require you to earn 120 credits and will take four years to complete if you work at a normal pace. Don’t be frightened off, however if you see a credit requirement that’s more than 120. Because the way colleges define the term “credit,” there can be huge variations. Purdue University Global, for instance, requires 180 “quarter credit hours” for completion of its online BS in Early Childhood Development, but its generally completed in four years like just about all the 120 credit teaching programs out there. How long it ultimately takes you to get an early childhood teaching degree will, of course, depend on how much time you can dedicate to your schoolwork.
Tip: Spend some time researching the requirements you’ll have to get a teaching certification in your state before signing up for a degree program. Some states work closely with teaching colleges and impose unique requirements that can make it take longer to finish your degree.
Teaching Requirements In Your Bachelor’s Program
As part of your bachelor’s program, you’ll generally be required to do student teaching. Student teaching, known as a “practicum” or “student teaching.” These are actually two slightly different things. A practicum is a classroom experience where the teacher in training works as a partner with a classroom teacher, and it will be a part of one of your teaching courses. You will receive feedback but not necessarily a grade for your practicum – you’ll only get a grade for the course that the practicum was part of. Student teaching (sometimes called “demonstration teaching”) means taking more full control of a classroom, and possibly even meeting with parents and the PTA. You’ll almost certainly be expected to create and present good quality lesson plans. Student teaching is considered a free-standing course unto itself, and you will receive a grade based on observation of your work. While classroom training work can be hard, student teaching and practicums are tremendously beneficial, as they can increase your confidence about becoming a kindergarten teacher. Remember that when it comes to student teaching, different states have different minimum requirements. They can have an influence on how much time you’ll have to spend doing this type of work before graduating from your school.
Tip: Online teaching degree schools also require student teaching. They generally have specialists who can set you up to do your in-classroom work under an authorized observer in your local area.
Getting A Real World Job As Kindergarten Teacher After You Finish A Degree
When you finish your teaching bachelor’s, it’s time to pursue your teaching certification. The length of this process varies from state to state, but generally one or two years at most.
To teach in any state in the U.S., you will need to take and pass a certification test. Keep in mind that it may be possible to do this while you are still in college working on your bachelor degree program – obviously a desirable approach to get you out into a teaching job faster. But many teaching college grads begin working toward their certification after they finish their degree.
You’ll need to take an approved teacher prep program. These types of programs are approved by state organizations with names ranging from “education professional standards board” to a basic state board of education. But there will only be one credible approval board for each state, which you can quickly locate through internet research. Some schools will actually hire you and allow you to work on getting certified while you teach. But they may only give you up to one year to complete this process.
What Tests Do You Take To Be Certified As A Kindergarten Teacher?
In virtually every state, you’ll need to take an appropriate course and test for your particular area of teaching specialty, sometimes called a “content specialty” test or “Praxis” test for professional subject areas. For kindergarten teachers, most states offer a certificate for “birth through kindergarten.” Many states also require unique courses for certification that are not focused on academics, but which might loosely be referred to as “sensitivity training.” New York State, for example, requires all prospective teachers to take a course called “Dignity of All Students.”
Be aware that several steps in the teaching certification process can involve fees. A background check, for example, is required for teacher certification in most states. That can cost you $100. or more. There may be a fee of $100 to $150 for simply submitting your teacher certification application.
Your state educator preparation program is likely to include an in-classroom teaching element and a test or series of tests. The testing varies tremendously from one state to the next. Many states have created several of their own tests to certify teachers. Again, some quick internet research will show you which organization you need to apply to for prep courses and certification tests in your own state.
Teaching In A Different State Than You Went To College In
If you have gone through the preparation process or even taken and passed the certification test in one state and then decided you would rather work in a different state, you may be in luck. Many states have “reciprocity” agreements under which they accept credentials teachers have earned from each other.
Tip: As you work through your student teaching, prepare a “teaching portfolio” with your evaluations, a list of the classes you’ve taught and a statement of your philosophy of teaching. When it’s time to go job hunting, it will help employers to see you as a polished, professional educator.
Tip: Get a specialty teaching certification. Either within your bachelor degree program or right afterward, you might consider getting certified in an in-demand specialty like English as second language or special education. Some of these certifications can be done through online colleges.
Can I teach kindergarten with a B.E. degree?
Yes, it’s possible to become a kindergarten teacher it you have a bachelor of education degree that’s not specialized in early learning. But your ability to get hired to teach young children will vary a great deal in different states and in different types of schools.
When it comes to the highest paying and most highly sought-after jobs in good public school kindergartens, you may find that your B.E. officially qualifies you to be hired, but makes you less competitive than other candidates who have early childhood specialty degrees.
You will need to need to pass any competency exams your particular state requires for teaching young children before you start your job hunt. The next step will be to do some serious research on schools in your area if you really want to get into kindergarten teaching.
The landscape is very complex. For example, the national Head Start program now requires that at least half of all their teachers have a bachelor’s in early childhood or a related category. On the other hand, most states only require that you hold some kind of bachelor’s in education to teach kindergarten, while other states only insist only that you have a bachelors degree of any type.
Many states have more specific requirements for teachers in public school kindergartens than those in private or pre-schools. And to complicate matters more, you’ll find variations between specific schools and programs in a particular state, with some requiring either a bachelor or associate specialized in childhood development or other similar specialty and others having no such requirement. The “net net,” as they say, is that it possible to teach kindergarten with a bachelor’s that’s not focused on early childhood learning, but it can take a good deal of work to find the specific school that will hire you.
Bachelor’s Degrees Online In Early Childhood Ed
Accredited school with over 13,000 students in it’s online program and multiple campuses.
Early Childhood Education Leadership Bachelor’s Completion Program
California-based school with over 39,000 students and 50 online degree programs.
BA in Early Childhood Education
BA in Early Childhood Education Administration
BA in Child Development
Master’s Degrees In Early Childhood Education
Grand Canyon University
Large private school offering online degrees at a relatively moderate price for a school with strong name recognition across the country.
M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education (leads to initial teacher licensure)
M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education (does not lead to initial teacher licensure)
MS Education, Elementary Reading and Literacy, Grades Pre-k to 6
Other Types of Kindergarten Teacher degrees
As you search for the right qualification to teach in kindergarten, you’re likely to run into a dizzying array of other degree titles. Typical examples at the undergrad level will include BS in Behavioral Health with Emphasis on Infancy or Early Childhood studies. Some BS programs in this area focus on a sub specialty like teaching STEM or Christian studies to young children. There are also early childhood ed degrees in administration, which can be a good idea if you’re strongly focused on becoming the head of a kindergarten or other preschool.
Having a master’s degree can improve your career prospects in almost any area of education. Degrees you may benefit from as a kindergarden teacher include an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Ed or a Masters in Curriculum or Instruction specialized in K-12 grades. But even more general grad degrees in secondary education can, in some school districts, qualify you for a higher salary grade.