3 Online Associate Degree Programs Available in Early Childhood Education

Earning an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education Online

For many people, teaching is a calling. However, once you decide to enter the education field, the question remains, what age group do you want to work with?

Any teacher will tell you that high school is vastly different than middle school, with elementary school and kindergarten being worlds of their... own. Not only is the subject matter different, but the general structure of the class will be dictated by the behavior and maturity of the classroom. While earning an associates degree in early childhood education online allows you to teach older kids, you'll need special training to work with younger children. If you're interested in working with preschool, kindergarten or elementary school children, then you may want to consider earning a degree in early childhood education.

What is an associates degree in early childhood education online?
The coursework for this field is meant to prepare teachers to handle the specific learning needs of the very young. Kindergartners require a different approach for education than high schoolers, with teachers imbuing in their students basic social and behavioral skills in addition to the foundational knowledge for future schooling. All in all, teachers of this general age range - from preschool to about second grade - are laying the educational groundwork that will serve them throughout their academic career.

Classes in an early childhood education degree generally focus on learning theory, including best practices for communicating with and conveying information to young children. As such, coursework will likely incorporate elements of child psychology and sociology, so that teachers may better understand and meet the needs of their students.

Job available in early childhood education
An associate's degree in early childhood education may jump start a career in a few different ways. Some occupations, such as preschool or childcare center director generally require only a high school diploma, though some states will demand an associate's or bachelor's degree in the field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor of Statistics.[i] Similarly, some preschool teacher positions only require a certification in early childhood education or an associate's degree. As the BLS notes, childcare centers may prefer teachers with some postsecondary education, while Head Start Programs demand that teacher's have at least an associate's degree.[ii]

Public school preschool teachers, however, are required to have at least a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field. The same is true of kindergarten and elementary school teachers in the public setting, according to the BLS.[iii] While private schools are not held to such state requirements, those institutions may still expect a bachelor's degree of its educators. An associate's degree may serve as a valuable stepping stone to further education in the field.

Potential salaries for early childhood education jobs
The salary of someone working in this field will vary depending on the location of the school, its budget and the position in question. However, the BLS provides general information concerning annual median wages and job outlook.

  • Preschool teacher: $27,130[iv] (17 percent employment growth projected through 2022)[iv]
  • Preschool and childcare center directors: $43,950[v] (17 percent employment growth projected through 2022)[v]
  • Kindergarten teacher: $53,090[vi] (12 percent employment growth projected through 2022)[vi]

Skills required in early childhood education
Becoming an early childhood education teacher requires more than just knowledge in an area of expertise, though subject matter knowledge may also be necessary for elementary school teachers. Mainly, you will need to be able to work well with children, which requires patience, stamina and creativity, according to the BLS.[iii] Patience and stamina are necessary, as it can be difficult to get young children to focus on the tasks at hand. Stamina is necessary, too, as organizing children can require lots of energy. Also, communication skills are paramount. 

[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/preschool-and-childcare-center-directors.htm#tab-4
[ii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm#tab-4
[iii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-4
[iv] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm#tab-1
[v] bls.gov/ooh/management/preschool-and-childcare-center-directors.htm#tab-1
[vi] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-1


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