Early Childhood Education Careers & Salaries

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Early childhood educators are often a child’s first introduction to formal education and learning outside of the home.  There are many early childhood education careers for people who are passionate about having a positive impact on a child’s early skills and development. Earning your degree in an early childhood education-related field may be the first step toward being a positive influence in a child’s life. Below are some notable early childhood education jobs and salaries according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Preschool Teachers[i]

Preschool teachers educate and engage children, usually from ages 3 to 5, before they are ready for kindergarten. The special skill of preschool teachers is to present reading, writing, and basic math skills to young children in a way they can understand. There is a need for preschool teachers in public and private schools, childcare centers, and charitable organizations. Though it varies based on state and regulation, the entry-level education ranges from a high school diploma and certification to an Associate’s degree and above.

Median annual early childhood education salary: $27,130

Job projection: 17% through 2022 (faster than average)


Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers[ii]

If a child does not attend preschool, kindergarten and elementary school teachers are a child’s first introduction to teachers outside of their parents. These teachers also introduce young children to basic skills of reading, writing, and math, spending some nights and weekend hours planning and preparing lessons. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers are required to have earned a Bachelor’s degree as well as a state-issued certification or license.

Median annual early childhood education salary: $53,090

Job projection: 12% through 2022  


Childcare Workers[iii]

When a parent is at work or unable to watch their children, childcare workers assume responsibility for children of varying ages. Childcare workers are sometimes tasked with helping children with their homework or playing an educational game with them. Working hours are usually part-time and childcare workers may be found working in daycare centers or in the employer’s home with the children. Though it may vary at the place of employment, but childcare workers typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Median annual early childhood education salary: $19,510

Job projection: 14% through 2022


Teaching Assistants[iv]

Teaching assistants share classrooms with teachers who they are assisting and work under their supervision. Teaching assistants are needed in public and private schools and many work part-time. While it varies by state regulations, some college education may be required to be a teaching assistant but a degree is not always required.

Median annual salary: $23,640

Job growth: 9% through 2022


Preschool and Childcare Center Directors[v]

A preschool or childcare center director position is a popular and fast-growing early childhood education career. Preschools and childcare centers are led by directors who oversee activities and manage the staff and operations. School and center directors also manage budget and sometime plan curriculum. Because they work in childcare services, preschool and childcare center directors typically work full-time, twelve months out of the year. This job requires a Bachelor’s degree, less than five years on-the-job experience, and some states and employers require a Child Development Associate (CDA) certification.

Median annual salary: $43,950

Job growth: 17% (faster than average)


Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals[vi]

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals manage the operations and personnel of schools. Working in public and private schools, principals oversee curriculum, coordinate school activities and events, and manage teachers and administrators who work for the school.  A principal at the elementary, middle, and high school levels are required to have a Master’s degree and typically have at least five years of experience in the field.

Median annual salary: $87,760

Job growth: 6%



Speech Language Pathologists[vii]

Often referred to as ‘speech therapists,’ speech language pathologists work may work in schools and private companies to diagnose and treat communication and swallowing disorders in children. In early childhood education, speech language pathologists work with students who exhibit symptoms of speech impediments and disorders. This position requires a Master’s degree and most states require you to be licensed.

Median annual salary: $69,870

Job growth: 19% (faster than average)