February 24, 2018

Degree Options in Early Childhood Education

If you’re thinking about an early childhood education degree, you’ll want to look into your degree options to make sure you prepare yourself for the job you desire to have when you graduate. An early childhood education degree will equip you to work with young children, including toddlers, preschoolers and young elementary school children.

What Early Childhood Education Degree Will Best Suit Your Purposes?

If you’re interested in working at a preschool as a head teacher, you’ll only need an associate’s degree. You can get an associate’s degree at most community colleges, online colleges, universities or colleges. This is a two-year degree focused on child development and working with young children.

However, if you want to work with preschoolers or young elementary school children as a speech therapist, early childhood education specialist, social worker or therapist, you will need at least a four-year degree in early childhood education, with a focus on whatever area you wish to specialize in. You may need a master’s degree if you wish to work in a literacy specialist or therapist role.

You’ll need to identify exactly which role you’d like to play in the early childhood education arena. Do you want to work at a therapy center, preschool or elementary school? Do you want to teach a class or perform individual therapy sessions? Do you want to work with small groups of children who need to be pulled out of the classroom for help with motor skills, study skills, speech or specific academic goals?

How to Choose the Right Early Childhood Education Degree Program

Before settling on a degree program, look into the curriculum. Will the program offer classes that specialize in the skills you will need to learn in order to perform your desired job? For example, if you want to be a preschool teacher at a high end preschool, you will need classes that teach lesson planning so you will learn how to improve fine motor skills, large motor skills, emotional development, recognition of shapes, colors, numbers and letters, etc. If you want to work with high risk preschoolers in a therapy center, you will need a different set of skills and will need classes that focus on how to help children with greater needs.

Choose the Degree That Will Get You a Job

Before you decide on a degree option, make sure there are plenty of jobs available in your area of choice. You may wish to go on several informational interviews at places of employment near you to find out what kinds of jobs are often in demand. Find out what kind of salary, schedule and responsibilities are expected of their employees. This will help you determine what age group you want to work with and in what capacity and setting.

Once you’ve decided upon a specific career in early childhood education, you’ll want to review college programs. Compare curriculums. Don’t be afraid to contact the college career counselors for advice—that’s what they are there for. If you ask enough questions, you’ll discover which degree option is best for you.


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