Early Childhood Education Degrees



An early childhood education degree (or an ECE degree) is often a requirement to work in a public elementary school. This is especially true for positions teaching Kindergarten or a more advanced grade. ECE students learn proven educational techniques that help young children developmentally. 

Completing programs for early childhood education online is a convenient option for those who do not have a flexible schedule for in-person classes.

Students interested in ECE schooling can choose between certificate, associate degree and bachelor’s degree programs. However, the time and cost of these programs will vary, particularly depending on the educational institute. 

Types of Jobs Available for Workers With an Early Childhood Education Degree

Professions that require an early childhood education degree are those with tasks relating to teaching young children, such as teachers for preschool and elementary school. Likewise, teachers who teach English as a second language or are in special education can benefit from an ECE degree.

However, other careers that do not directly entail teaching may require schooling for early childhood education, including a: 

Nanny who cares for and instructs children in a home setting. More formally titled home-based service providers, these positions entail setting up age- and developmentally appropriate activities. The income range for this type of position greatly depends on parents, number of children and other specifics but is typically between $14,000 and $35,000.

Family Support Specialist who uses knowledge from an early childhood education degree to provide support services for families in crisis. For instance, a family might seek someone in this role after a divorce to help children handle the separation transition. Although income can depend on several factors, the average annual salary for this position is $54,000.

Childcare Center Director who oversees daily operations and supervises direct-care staff members. While childcare center directors do not teach children, they do train teachers and caregivers as well as develop curriculums, programs and organizational objectives. Administrators with bachelor’s degrees can earn $44,000 to $85,000 annually.

Researcher who continues to study the development of children and best educational practices to design and publish scientifically backed methodologies. This information is later used to establish curriculums for early childhood education associates degree and bachelor degree programs. Researchers can earn $75,000 to $90,000 a year depending on the employer.

Students considering a degree in childhood education should determine if an associate’s or bachelor’s program would be more valuable for their desired career. For example, individuals can work in a private preschool with an early childhood education associates degree, but a bachelor’s degree will open up more job opportunities in public sectors. 

Schooling for Early Childhood Education Degree

Most early childhood education associates degree programs are 60 to 90 credit hours, depending on the institute, and typically take students two years to complete. Bachelor degree programs, on the other hand, are at least 120 credit hours and can take students four years to finish. Some of these credit hours include ECE degree-specific classes as well as basic graduation-required courses, such as those relating to math, history and social studies.

Likewise, the cost of earning an early childhood education degree will be different depending on the program. Certificate programs are less costly than degree programs, with bachelor programs being more expensive than associates.

Several learning institutions offer courses for early childhood education online as well as in person. Regardless of the method of complete classes, topics covered in childhood education programs can include:

  • Children’s growth and development, which covers maturity from conception to adolescence
  • The role of an educator, such as creating a curriculum, teaching practices and child assessment
  • Language and literacy development, which reviews the development of oral and written languages in children as well as cognition and phonemic awareness
  • Integrated studies, such as the theories and practices of cooperative learning, firsthand experiences and educational technology used in lessons
Students also often take part in supervised observation and teaching in local schools. This type of real, hands-on experience allows students to use studied teaching practices on young children under the guidance of a professor and/or elementary teacher. Early childhood education degree graduates can sometimes get job offers from the elementary schools at which they interned.

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