- Career Guide
- Preschool Teacher Career
How to Become a Preschool Teacher
Would you like to make a real difference in shaping the lives of children? Do you enjoy being a role model and teaching kids about the world around us? Then you should consider becoming a preschool teacher.
Preschool teachers enjoy great flexibility in where they work—from public schools to daycare centers to churches and beyond. They also have days that are unique and centered on learning and fun. But most importantly these teachers are able to impact their students’ personal, social, and academic well-being at such a crucial stage in their brain development. Early childhood education is crucial for these students, and teachers in a pre-k setting are able to help their students thrive.
As a teacher of pre-K students, you truly impact your students’ future, which is why it’s such a rewarding profession. Read this guide for a complete preschool teacher job description, including core responsibilities, how much these teachers are paid, and how you can transition into this respected and meaningful career.
What Is a Preschool Teacher?
Preschool teachers use imaginative methods to encourage early childhood education, engage their young audience, and prepare them for the structure of their K–12 education. They employ a seemingly simple curriculum to assess the mental and social development of their students, and they help these children and their parents prepare for the school years ahead. Most preschool teachers work with kids ages three to five, but they can be trained to work with children from infancy up to the age of eight. This early childhood education is critical, which is why the job description of this kind of teacher focuses on helping develop their minds.
Some of the ways preschool teachers differ from K–12 educators are:
- They can work earlier or later than traditional K–12 school hours.
- They follow a basic learning curriculum, but they don’t assign or grade homework.
- They use arts and crafts to progress academic skills instead of textbooks.
- They use story and play time to teach problem-solving and encourage social development.
Essentially, being a preschool teacher requires more tactical, hands-on learning. And it also necessitates more patience—which is why many pre-K educators teach mindfulness in their classrooms.
What Does a Preschool Teacher Do?
A good job description for a preschool teacher is that you’ll teach critical language, social, and motor skills to children who have yet to enter kindergarten. Early childhood education focuses less on specific knowledge levels, and more on overall skills that children need.
Kids under the age of six learn best from playing, experimenting, and problem-solving. So you’ll need to work fun into your daily lessons. Some creative ways preschool teachers do this is through using rhyming games or sing-alongs to teach vocabulary, building blocks to introduce basic math skills, and group projects to develop social IQ.
Your day-to-day duties and responsibilities can include:
- Implementing a curriculum covering the many areas of child development, including both educational and behavioral skill sets.
- Teaching colors, shapes, letters, and numbers recognition.
- Introducing children to the wonders of the world around them through activities that explore varying interests and develop investigative skills.
- Working with students one-on-one or within groups, depending on the subject matter and your students’ needs.
- Using schedules and routines to give students structure, and making sure to incorporate sufficient physical activity and rest.
- Monitoring students for any emotional or developmental warning signs and notifying their parents.
- Reporting on each child’s development, including their interests, routines, aptitudes, and overall progress.
As with all teachers, you’ll interact with kids from diverse socioeconomic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. Thus, it is beneficial to teach and incorporate tolerance so your students can learn how to value one another’s differences.
How Do I Become a Preschool Teacher?
Although some facilities require only an associate degree, most preschool teachers today have their bachelor’s in educational studies,early childhood education, or a related teaching discipline. Many states also require pre-K teachers to complete a teacher prep program, pass state or national exams, and earn their teaching licensure or certification.
If you’re currently working and can’t afford to take time off to earn a bachelor’s degree, getting your teaching degree online is a great option. Accredited universities like WGU enable you to complete coursework when and where you have the time. WGU’s respected teachers college also prepares you for taking teaching exams and getting your licensure.
Other credentials that are helpful to have if you’d like to work in early childhood education include:
- Child Development Associate (CDA)—This credential must be renewed every three years and requires experience in the field, a written exam, and an in-practice observation with children.
- Certified Childcare Professional (CCP)—This accreditation typically takes one year to complete, but it includes a self-study process where you can work at your own pace and potentially finish it faster.
- Work experience—In some states, you’ll need work experience in a childcare setting to get hired as a preschool educator. This can include working as a teacher assistant or within a childcare or daycare environment. Time spent as a professional nanny or au pair can be helpful, too.
Best Degree for Preschool Teachers
Educational Studies – B.A.
These online, non-licensure educational studies degrees prepare...
These online, non-licensure educational studies...
These online, non-licensure educational studies degrees prepare you to make a difference in a field that interests you.
Based on your career goals and interests, you can choose an educational studies program in one of 10 content areas that meets your needs while working toward employment in school settings, corporate training, or instructional design. These programs do not lead to a teaching license.
- Time:Completion time varies depending on the specialty track you choose.
- Tuition and fees:$3,575 per 6-month term.
Candidates for this special education degree program often include:
- Elementary Education
- Elementary and Special Education
- Mild to Moderate Special Education
- Secondary Biology Science Education
- Secondary Chemistry Science Education
- Secondary Earth Science Education
- Secondary Physics Education
- Middle Grades Science Education
- Secondary Mathematics Education
- Middle Grade Mathematics Education
Students in this program will be prepared for careers including:
- Instructional support
- Community outreach
- Education staff (museums, learning centers, etc.)
- K-12 opportunities that do not require a teaching license
More Details Apply Now
Elementary Education – B.A.
An online teacher certification program for aspiring elementary...
An online teacher certification program for...
An online teacher certification program for aspiring elementary teachers.
Leads to teacher licensure. Specific grade levels will vary depending on teaching certification in your state.
- Time: 60% of grads earned this degree within 36 months.
- Tuition:$3,575 per 6-month term.
Candidates for this program often include:
- Aspiring elementary school teachers who currently lack a teaching license
- Substitute teachers
- School paraprofessionals
- Others who feel the call to teach
This elementary education degree program includes courses in the foundations of teacher education, instructional planning and presentation, assessment, and classroom management. Core teacher education courses focus on diversity, disciplinary literacy, elementary education methods, and pedagogy.It requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time demonstration teaching. This online teaching degree program helps you to be eligible for teaching certification in any of the 50 states.
More Details Apply Now
Our Online University Degree Programs Start on the First of Every Month, All Year Long
No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!
Learn about online college admissions at WGU.
What Skills Does a Preschool Teacher Need?
In addition to your degree and on-the-job experience, you should have the following soft and hard skills to be an effective pre-K or preschool educator:
- Calm, friendly, and relaxed temperament. School can be a new nerve-racking experience for young preschoolers. They need a safe, calming environment to feel comfortable learning. Creating a stress-free learning zone can help students rise above anxiety and focus on learning and social skills.
- A balance between being a creative and critical thinker. It can be difficult to keep preschoolers engaged. Creativity combined with critical thinking is key.
- Excellent communication, instructional, and mediation skills. A lot of your job as a preschool teacher will be maintaining order in the classroom and helping children when they get frustrated with each other. Be patient and help them communicate.
- Solid knowledge of child development principles and preschool education methods. Knowing the right teaching methods for a younger age group can help you reach each student where they are in terms of their development and attention spans. You should be familiar with best teaching practices for the ages of the children in your class.
- Familiarity with classroom safety and sanitation guidelines. Kids spread germs. And unlike adults, their immune systems aren’t always as developed or strong. Keep your classroom clean and sanitized.
- CPR/AED certification. It’s not uncommon for younger children to have medical issues or allergic reactions. They may be too young or frightened to ask what’s in certain foods. Be certified to help if a student has a medical emergency.
- Exceptional patience and stamina. Though it’s incredibly rewarding, being a preschool teacher can also stretch you mentally and emotionally. Be patient and take some time for yourself so you can stay fresh and present for your students.
The ability to be both organized and flexible. Things won’t always go as planned, so you should be able to think on your feet and make adjustments on the fly. Stay calm, stay organized, and roll with the punches.
How Much Does a Preschool Teacher Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for a preschool teacher is $31,930 in May 2020. Your education and where you work greatly influence your pay. For example, working as a pre-K teacher in a private elementary or public school pays, on average, over $18,000 more per year than working at a daycare center.
What is the Projected Job Growth?
The demand for preschool teachers is set to grow at an astounding rate of 18% from 2020 to 2030 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much faster than the rate of growth for most other occupations. Interest in early childhood education is on the rise and parents are looking for good preschool options for their children.
Do I Need a Degree to Be a Preschool Teacher?
You will most often need at least an associate degree and the proper licenses and certifications to be a preschool teacher. Check with your local state for the most accurate information on requirements. Many teachers today hold a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, particularly if they work at a private school or elementary school.
Interested in Becoming a Preschool Teacher?
Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.
View degree programs
What are the requirements to be a pre K teacher in Georgia? ›
A: The minimum educational requirement for a Georgia's Pre-K lead teacher is a bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education or related field.How much do Georgia pre K teachers make? ›
As of Mar 6, 2023, the average annual pay for a PRE K Teacher in Georgia is $23,426 a year.What skills are needed to be a preschool teacher? ›
- Organized. Any profession requires organization, but an educator has to be mindful of lesson plans, student work, school paperwork and any specialized educational plans a student may have. ...
- Collaborative. ...
- Laid back. ...
- Creative. ...
- Patience. ...
- Energetic. ...
- Authoritative. ...
Yes, you can be a preschool teacher without a degree.
Certifications such as Child Development Associate (CDA) or Child Care Professional (CCP) are a good starting point. Some locations may have State Preschool Teacher tests. Teachers at preschools instruct children between the ages of three and five.
|Education/Experience Required||A Minimum of a Bachelor's Degree, Certification/License|
|Exams Required||GACE, Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment - Program Exit, edTPA|
|Certification Renewal Period||5 Years|
|Mean Salary for Preschool Teachers in Georgia (2018)||$30,910*|
Preschool teacher salaries can range from around $22,000 to $58,000 annually. As of May 2021, the national average annual pay estimate was $36,460 or $17.53 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Preschool teachers earning the least earn roughly $23,000 yearly, while top earners earn about $58,000.Why is it hard to teach preschool? ›
As a preschool teacher, you face several new and unique challenges on an everyday basis. You often find yourself struggling with establishing the right curriculum, dealing with the different needs of toddlers at the same time, and communicating minor details about the kids with the parents.How do I teach in daycare? ›
- Earn your high school diploma. ...
- Get a degree in early childhood education or a related field. ...
- Job shadow a current teacher. ...
- Volunteer. ...
- Obtain your professional certification and license. ...
- Complete a background check. ...
- Receive training in medical emergencies. ...
- Develop your soft skills.
How Much Does a Preschool Teacher Make? Preschool Teachers made a median salary of $30,210 in 2021. The best-paid 25% made $38,620 that year, while the lowest-paid 25% made $28,440.How much do daycare teachers make in GA? ›
What is the average salary for a daycare teacher in Georgia? The average salary for a daycare teacher in Georgia is $19,500 per year. Daycare teacher salaries in Georgia can vary between $15,500 to $30,500 and depend on various factors, including skills, experience, employer, bonuses, tips, and more.
What state pays pre K teachers the most? ›
|Rank||State||Average Preschool Teacher Salary|
- Teaching Your Children. ...
- Being A Role Model. ...
- Providing A Safe and Secure Environment. ...
- Encouraging New Experiences. ...
- Developing Social Skills. ...
- Facilitating Communication. ...
- Storytelling. ...
- Managing Time and Routines.
What Does a Preschool Teacher Do? A good job description for a preschool teacher is that you'll teach critical language, social, and motor skills to children who have yet to enter kindergarten. Early childhood education focuses less on specific knowledge levels, and more on overall skills that children need.What is the most important job of a preschool teacher? ›
Their main duties include teaching children about basic fundamentals, like numbers, color and shapes, helping children build their social skills and keeping the classroom clean and safe for all of the students and Teachers.Can you work in a preschool without qualifications? ›
Although childcare qualifications are useful for nursery work, it's possible to work in a nursery without them. This can allow you to get an idea of what the work is like and decide if this is the right career for you.How can I teach kindergarten without a degree? ›
If you're passionate about becoming a teacher but lack a degree in education, a teaching certification program is your best option. A teaching certificate will provide the necessary coursework and student teaching experience to prepare you for state certification.How can I teach in school without a degree? ›
By working with an accredited institution or through private training, one can obtain an initial teaching certificate that will allow one to teach in public institutions. This will make working towards a professional teaching certificate attainable with additional coursework and training.How old are most preschool teachers? ›
- Technical College Diploma in early childhood education.
- Technical Certificate of Credit in early childhood education.
- Specialist degree or PhD.
- Paraprofessional Certificate issued by the GaPSC.
- Master's degree (MA, MS)
Can I become an early years teacher without a degree or my GCSE passes? If you do not currently have a degree, you will have to study and obtain one before being able to enter an ITT course. Alternatively, you could study for a specialist degree which would qualify you to teach early years (as explained below).
What is the highest paying job in early childhood education? ›
Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
As one of the highest paying jobs in early childhood education, special education teachers who work in the field of early childhood education have the potential to make nearly six figures per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The average Preschool Teacher salary in Los Angeles, CA is $41,240 as of January 26, 2023, but the range typically falls between $37,290 and $46,950.How much should you give preschool teacher? ›
…the daycare worker/preschool teacher? Totally. She's a big part of your kid's life—and who works harder, really? Budget: $20 to $75 each in cash or a gift certificate.Why do preschool teachers quit? ›
Both fields are overworked, underpaid, and often lack the necessary supplies to perform their jobs to the best extent. Grueling schedules, lack of administration support, and criticism from parents and the community have led to teachers quitting all levels.Why are Montessori teachers paid so little? ›
Montessori teachers are typically employed by private schools, where salaries are generally lower. Public schools are taxpayer-funded, while private schools rely on tuition and charitable giving to fund teacher salaries. Although salary is a consideration, most Montessori teachers are dedicated to the mission.What is the most difficult age to teach? ›
While middle school is undoubtedly one of the hardest age groups to teach, it can also be the most rewarding for teachers and students alike, but there are a few things we'd like you to know to understand it truly.What is the difference between a daycare and a preschool teacher? ›
While daycares may provide services like diapering, preschools generally cater to older kids and require their students to be potty-trained. Preschools are almost always center-based, while daycares may be based out of a home, and preschools also tend to be larger, with more students.Is daycare teacher a stressful job? ›
Workplace stress and burnout is very high in the childcare profession due to the stress of managing multiple children and their behaviours, the relationships with parents and peers and often there is a lack of recognition and appreciation for what should be seen as such an important role in our society.Is it hard being a daycare teacher? ›
“Being an early childhood educator is hard work but very rewarding,” Egolf says. All the support and encouragement you give young students as they develop and overcome frustrations adds up to very real results.Which teacher gets paid the least? ›
Arizona ranks lowest in teacher salary when adjusted for cost of living and quality of life. The state with the lowest average teacher salary in the US is Mississippi, at around $48,000 a year. However, $48,000 in Mississippi may look very different from $48,000 in New York.
What state pays preschool teachers least? ›
1. New Mexico.
|Total Preschool Teacher Jobs:||289|
|Average Annual Salary:||$38,878|
|Lowest 10 Percent Earn:||$26,000|
|Highest 10 Percent Earn:||$57,000|
$29,500 is the 75th percentile. Salaries above this are outliers. $34,500 is the 90th percentile.What daycare pays the most? ›
- Early Childhood Director. Salary range: $40,500-$66,000 per year. ...
- Child Life Specialist. Salary range: $40,500-$54,000 per year. ...
- Nursery School Teacher. Salary range: $36,500-$54,000 per year. ...
- Early Childhood Specialist. ...
- Nursery Manager. ...
- Child Development Specialist. ...
- Child Care Director. ...
- Day Care Director.
- Atlanta, GA. $32.64 per hour. 431 salaries reported.
- Savannah, GA. $30.31 per hour. 33 salaries reported.
- Suwanee, GA. $30.18 per hour. 377 salaries reported.
- Alpharetta, GA. $16.86 per hour. 65 salaries reported.
- Marietta, GA. $15.71 per hour. ...
- Show more nearby cities.
How much does a Child Care Center Teacher make in Georgia? The average Child Care Center Teacher salary in Georgia is $35,536 as of January 26, 2023, but the range typically falls between $32,134 and $40,453.What state has the happiest teachers? ›
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines the preschool age range as being between three and five years old. However, there are no hard and fast rules. Some preschools enroll children at three years old; others take children at four.What questions are asked at a preschool teacher interview? ›
- “Tell me about yourself.” ...
- “If I were to walk into your classroom during an early literacy or math activity, what would I see?” ...
- “How do you plan to communicate with families?” ...
- “What makes you the best candidate for this position?” (“Sell yourself!”)
Provide important foundational skills
Early childhood educators really set the groundwork for children's growth and development. Putting children in childcare helps prepare them for Kindergarten. They learn essential skills that will help get them ready and this will make it easier for parents.
What is the hardest part about being a preschool teacher? ›
1. Children (so many children!) Managing a room full of young children can be delightful, but it can also be hard and can drain a lot of your energy. The day-to-day challenges you will face can range from dealing with difficult behaviors to crying and cranky children.What does a typical day look like for a preschool teacher? ›
It is wonderful to have an hour and a half to prep afternoon material, take observations and data, write IEPs, and have team meetings. The latter part of the day includes quiet time, a read aloud, center-time, phonics, snack, and gross motor. After students leave we debrief, plan, and prepare for the following day.Why is it good to work in a preschool? ›
Nursery Practitioners feel they help to give children that valuable start in life to a good education, helping children to develop their social skills in a safe and a caring environment that promotes learning through play. It is these key values that we look for in a candidate.Can you become a teacher without a teaching degree in Georgia? ›
Public school teachers need state-approved teaching certification. Candidates seeking provisional certification need at least a bachelor's degree, enrollment in a state-approved teacher-preparation program, and passing scores on Georgia's Educator Ethics Assessment.Can you teach in GA without a degree? ›
The Georgia Professional Standards Commission requires that prospective teachers hold a bachelor's degree (except in certain career and technical education subjects) and complete an approved teacher preparation program.What age and requirements for pre-k in Georgia? ›
To be eligible for the state's Pre-K program, your child must be a resident of Georgia and at least 4 years of age on Sept. 1 of the school year.How much does a Parapro get paid in Georgia? ›
How much does a Title 1 Paraprofessional make in Georgia? The average Title 1 Paraprofessional salary in Georgia is $29,620 as of February 27, 2023, but the range typically falls between $25,463 and $35,158.How do I become a teacher if I don't have a degree? ›
This could be by taking up a role as a cover supervisor or teaching assistant, volunteering in a school, or through our Level 3 Teaching Assistant Apprenticeship, where you can earn while you learn. This way you'll know that teaching is what you want to do before committing to a degree.What is a teachers salary in Georgia? ›
How much does a Public School Teacher make in Georgia? The average Public School Teacher salary in Georgia is $54,353 as of February 27, 2023, but the range typically falls between $45,391 and $66,283.Can you be a teacher without going to teachers college? ›
Teachers of Technological or Vocational Studies may not require a post secondary degree or B. Ed but must have a secondary school diploma and proof of competence in their field of specialization.
How do I get my teaching license in Georgia? ›
Georgia Teachers Licensing Application Process
Proof of completion of an approved teacher preparation program. Passing score on the appropriate Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) and the Georgia Ethics assessments. Completed application for certification. Payment of non-refundable processing ...
How Do I Become a Licensed Paraprofessional? All Georgia Paraprofessionals must hold a valid state license issued by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC). Georgia educators who hold a valid professional certificate may serve as Paraprofessionals without holding a specific Paraprofessional license.How to become a school teacher? ›
In India, one may begin teaching after finishing 10+2 exams or while studying for it. To become a government teacher, however, applicants must pass the admission tests. CTET, TET, STET, and other entrance exams are held to pursue a B. Ed.Do you have to be certified to teach Pre-K in Georgia? ›
A Georgia's Pre-K Program lead teacher must have one of the following valid and current certificates or credentials listed below. Pre-K providers should review the qualifications and conditions carefully to ensure that the lead teacher qualifies to teach in Georgia's Pre-K.How old are most Pre-K students? ›
The biggest difference between Preschool and Pre-k is the age difference. Preschool typically ranges between 2 ½ and 5 ½ years old depending on each school's enrollment requirements. Pre-K focuses on children between 4 and 5 years old.Is Pre-K mandatory in GA? ›
Children four years of age on September 1 of the current school year who are Georgia residents are eligible to attend Georgia's Pre-K Program during this school year. Georgia's Pre-K Program is voluntary for families and for providers.Do GA teachers get paid in the summer? ›
If the teacher works for the summer, the teacher is to be paid additional monies for the summer months, see below. The Supplemental compensation is cumulative based on the Lead Teacher's work history as a Georgia Pre-K Lead Teacher and or history as a certified Lead Teacher in a K-12 public school.Do I need a degree to be a Paraprofessional in Georgia? ›
Eligibility for a Paraprofessional License is based on one of the following: An Associate's Degree or higher in any subject completed at an accredited institution. Paraprofessional Assessment. To obtain information regarding the GACE Assessment, please visit gace.ets.org.How much does a PE teacher get paid in Georgia? ›
How much does a Physical Education Teacher make in Georgia? The average Physical Education Teacher salary in Georgia is $45,658 as of February 27, 2023, but the range typically falls between $40,387 and $52,218.