The first several years of a child's life are filled with learning on a massive scale. Early childhood education takes advantage of a young child's ability to soak up information like a sponge. A 2005 study by the RAND Corporation found that early childhood programs can increase academic achievement, promote better behavior, lower crime rates and provide a measure of labor market success. Bachelor's degrees in early childhood education can put you in front of the classroom to help make a difference.
Bachelor's degrees in early childhood education
Degree programs in early childhood education are designed for those who want to teach and care for children who range in age from infants to third-graders. Typical courses include child development, curriculum methods, classroom management and behavior, instructional design, parent-child relations, and instructional resources and technology. A strong background in sociology, psychology, English, foreign languages and family studies is also helpful.
Career options, outlook and salary
With a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, you can seek positions in a variety of educational environments, including schools, preschools, child care facilities and more. Those who earn certification in a particular area, such as special education, can see greater opportunities. Each state has its own education and licensing requirements for the various settings and roles.
Here is an overview of positions that early childhood education degree holders may consider, depending on state regulations. For related careers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the following mean annual wages for 2010. Also shown are estimates for the increase in employment from 2010 to 2020:
- Child care workers: $19,300 salary; 20 percent growth
- Elementary school teachers: $51,660 salary; 17 percent growth
- Kindergarten teachers: $48,800 salary; 18 percent growth
- Preschool teachers: $25,700 salary; 25 percent growth
- Teacher assistants: $23,220 salary; 15 percent growth
Most of these fields are expected to expand faster than average; teacher assistant positions should grow about as fast as average for all U.S. occupations.
Going beyond the bachelor's degree
To advance into higher positions in the education field, you would probably need a master's degree. If you wish to move into educational administration, a Ph.D. could be helpful. Many teachers choose to earn a higher degree through online education, which allows them to continue teaching their own classes while taking courses during their free time.