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Online Degrees in Early Childhood Education


Article Sources
  • Accessing Career Pathways to Education and Training for Early Care and Education (ECE) Professionals, 2016, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/elcpi_accessibility_10_28_ada.pdf
  • Arizona State University, Online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Early Childhood Education),https://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/graduate/master-education-curriculum-and-instruction-early-childhood-education, accessed August 2018
  • Ashford University, Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education, https://www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/education/associate-of-arts-early-childhood-education, accessed August 2018
  • Ashford University, Careers in Early Childhood Education, https://www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/education/careers/early-childhood-education/, accessed August 2018
  • Ashworth College, Associate Degree Early Childhood Education, https://www.ashworthcollege.edu/associate-degrees/early-childhood-education/curriculum/, accessed August 2018
  • Ashworth College, Bachelor's Degree Early Childhood Education, https://www.ashworthcollege.edu/bachelors-degrees/early-childhood-education-degree-online/, accessed August 2018
  • Ashworth College, Undergraduate Certificate, Early Childhood Education,https://www.ashworthcollege.edu/undergraduate-certificates/early-childhood-education/, accessed August 2018
  • Aspen University, Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, http://www.aspen.edu/degrees/bachelors-degree/bachelor-of-science-in-early-childhood-education, accessed August 2018
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Instructional Coordinators,https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm, accessed August 2018
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm, accessed August 2018
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Preschool Teachers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm, accessed August 2018
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Special Education Teachers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm, accessed August 2018
  • Capella University, Early Childhood Specialization, Master of Science in Education,https://www.capella.edu/online-degrees/masters-early-childhood-education/courses/, accessed August 2018
  • Certificate Program: Early Childhood Education, UCSC Silicon Valley Extension,https://www.ucsc-extension.edu/certificate-program/education/early-childhood-education#anchor-program-description, accessed September 2018
  • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), History of CAEP,http://www.caepnet.org/about/history, accessed August 2018
  • Early Childhood Education: Quality and Access Pay Off, The Heckman Equation,https://heckmanequation.org/resource/early-childhood-education-quality-and-access-pay-off/, accessed October 2018
  • Four Big Benefits of Investing in Early Childhood Development, The Heckman Equation,https://heckmanequation.org/assets/2017/01/F_Heckman_FourBenefitsInvestingECDevelopment_022615.pdf, accessed October 2018
  • Mizzou Online, University of Missouri, Early childhood education: Online master's degree,https://online.missouri.edu/degreeprograms/education/early-childhood/masters/index.aspx, accessed August 2018
  • Penn Foster College, Early Childhood Education Associate Degree?, https://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/education-and-child-care/early-childhood-education-associate-degree, accessed August 2018
  • The Integration of Early Childhood Data State Profiles and A Report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education, November 2016, https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/files/integration-of-early-childhood-data.pdf
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Early childhood educators work with children primarily under the age of 5 to help them develop language, emotional and social skills, along with fine and gross motor skills. For those who enjoy working with kids, an online degree in early childhood education can be a good foundation for a career in infant, toddler, or preschool child care.

Communication skills, creativity, dependability, patience, organization and capacity to understand cultural differences are necessary skills for prospective early childhood educators. These professionals must also be able to inspire confidence, motivate children and comprehend the educational and emotional needs of their students.

The flexibility of an online degree program can make it possible to earn a degree and maintain a job as well as other life responsibilities, such as family commitments.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), early childhood education is recognized for its vital role in children's intellectual and social development. The Department of Education shows early childhood education can significantly impact the healthy development of children and can have both short - and long-term benefits. As a result, almost every state has been focusing on increasing and improving the quality of its early childhood education programs, creating a demand for more teachers.

A comprehensive birth to age five program, had lasting effects on IQ, boosted academic and economic achievement and helped prevent the incidence of chronic disease and obesity in adulthood.

Early childhood educators — preschool and kindergarten teachers -introduce children to reading, writing, and help them to grow their vocabularies. These teachers also introduce subjects like arts, math, science and social studies through the use of books, computers, games and music.

Early childhood educators may work in public or private day care centers, elementary schools, child and family services departments, community organizations, and religious organizations. They may work a 10-month schedule or teach year round with occasional breaks.

Typically, the duties of a preschool teacher can include:

  • Introducing children to colors, shapes, numbers and letters
  • Organizing learning activities for children and helping them individually as needed
  • Ensuring children get enough rest, physical activity and playtime built into their routines at school
  • Looking out for any developmental or emotional problems in children, if any, and notifying parents Keeping records of students' progress and interests and keeping parents informed

The duties of a kindergarten teacher can include:

  • Creating lesson plans to teach children core subjects like reading, science and math
  • Teaching children through different learning and communication methods
  • Discussing children's progress with their parents
  • Helping children overcome any learning challenges by working with them individually
  • Developing and enforcing classroom rules so that students can learn proper behavior
  • Grading assignments and helping students prepare for assessments

In preschools and kindergartens, early childhood educators may help to establish or implement curriculum standards. More advanced early education degrees can also allow individuals to work as instructional coordinators and develop instructional material and recommend teaching methods.

Choose a degree that can help you meet your career goals

Long-term, Head Start reduced obesity at ages 12 and 13, depression and obesity at ages 16 and 17, and crime at ages 20 and 21

You may find there are plenty of online colleges for early childhood education offering programs at different degree levels.

An online associate degree in early childhood education can be a good way to start your career in this field. A bachelor's or master's degree in early childhood education may help you branch out in fields like curriculum design or be eligible for a leadership role in the educational system.

Online master's degree programs in early childhood education help prepare students to mentor children in a variety of educational settings, including preschools, kindergartens and primary schools.

Certification and continuing education requirements for early childhood educators vary by state and school. Some mandate at minimum an associate or bachelor's degree, while others call for a high school diploma, according to the BLS.

Career
Employment
(2017)
Average Salary
(2017)
Projected Job Growth
(2016 - 26)
Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special Education131,160$58,3707.9%
Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School263,120$98,7507.8%
Source: 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program?

An early childhood education certificate online may be well suited for individuals looking for some college-level education but who do not want to or cannot commit their time or money toward an early childhood education degree program. A certificate can form a foundation for a variety of different careers working with young children.

An online early childhood education certificate program typically includes coursework that promotes the understanding of what it takes to work with young children along with the skills required to do so.

Typical duration: Up to one year of part-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED

Typical coursework: Students learn about the different influences factors like biology, family and communities and culture can have on the early development of young children. Typical class subjects can include:

  • Home, school and community
  • Positive guidance and discipline for the young child
  • Introduction to teaching young children
  • Creative expression and play

You may also be required to complete a practicum of supervised field work as a part of your course.

Possible electives: Principles of infant/toddler caregiving; brain development in early childhood; math development in young children

What can I do after earning a certificate?

A certificate in early childhood education can prepare you for entry-level job roles in a myriad of early childhood care and educational facilities. Some potential careers are:

  • Child care worker
  • Teacher's aide
  • Day care provider

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

Online early childhood education associate degree programs train future educators and care givers in a variety of subjects, including early childhood development, child psychology and nutrition. Students working toward this degree also learn to recognize and encourage social development in young children while respecting each child's limitations.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED

Typical coursework: Students learn in-depth techniques for supervising children and encouraging creative play. Along with general education classes, you may likely learn the best practices for child care facilities and preschools as well as how to stay compliant with the law. Core curriculum can teach you how to actively engage young children, facilitate positive growth, and maintain safe and healthy learning environments. Courses may include:

  • Health, safety, and nutrition for the young child
  • Essentials of psychology
  • Play in the lives of young children
  • Introduction to child development
  • Guidance and discipline

Students working toward an online associate degree in early childhood education may also study administration, communication, or college mathematics. Other courses might examine specific methods for creating stimulating learning environments, such as movement and music, art and creative development, or children's literature.

What can I do after earning an associate degree?

Graduates of online associate degree programs in early childhood education may qualify for a number of positions working with young children, including preschool teacher. Potential careers are:

  • Day care provider
  • Teacher's assistant
  • Preschool teacher

It's important to remember that educational, certification and other training requirements vary by state and employer. For example, public schools generally require teachers to possess at least a bachelor's degree.

A high quality early childhood program provides a safe and nurturing environment while promoting the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development of young children.

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor's degree program?

An online bachelor's early education degree program can provide a well-rounded education by including a core set of general education courses along with specialized courses in early childhood education. Students may also learn about administrative principles and strategies for running a successful care center or preschool, including proper financial, legal, and ethical behaviors.

Typical duration: Two to four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED

Typical coursework: Students may learn how to analyze and assess the impact of environmental stimuli on the growth of a child, and how to craft an environment conducive to positive learning and development. Courses may include:

  • Foundations of early childhood education
  • Early childhood literacy
  • Art and creative development
  • Strategies for classroom management
  • Assessment strategies in early childhood
  • Early cognition and education
  • Curriculum for young children

Additionally, you may be required to complete a capstone project and work in a supervised setting to complete the requirements for your online early education degree.

Possible electives: Home, school and community; child development; health safety and nutrition; careers in early childhood development; exceptional children

What can I do after earning a bachelor's degree?

After earning your bachelor's degree, you may be able to pursue occupations such as:

  • Preschool and child care center director
  • Preschool teacher
  • Teacher's assistant
  • Day care provider
  • Camp counselor

What can I expect to learn in an online master's degree program?

A master's degree in early childhood education generally includes a focus on classroom instruction and curriculum development. Students learn strategies for fostering positive relationships between teachers, parents and students. In addition, students working toward this degree may conduct research and participate in field experience in order to gain a theoretical and practical understanding of early childhood development. Some programs also require students to submit a research-based master's thesis before they can graduate.

Typical duration: One to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor's degree

Typical coursework: Topics surrounding technology, administration and policy analysis and advocacy may be taught. Courses emphasize effective teaching methods, as well as techniques for creating productive learning environments. Core curriculum may include:

  • Mathematics in early childhood education
  • Home-school partnerships: working with families
  • Advanced early childhood curriculum
  • Standards-based curriculum, instruction, and assessment
  • Assessment and improvement of instruction

In addition to online courses, students often have to complete a certain number of supervised student teaching hours in a real classroom. These hands-on sessions are typically arranged by the online college, which may offer several participating school sites.

Possible electives: Infant and child development; early childhood reading and literacy instruction; research with exceptional children; young children with autism; introduction and methods of early childhood special education

What can I do after earning a master's degree?

Occupations after completing a master's degree may include:

  • Child care center staff worker
  • Early childhood practitioner
  • Early childhood special education teacher
  • Head Start teacher
  • Kindergarten or primary-grade teacher
  • Preschool teacher
  • Child and family social worker
  • Instructional coordinator
  • Education administrator

What can I expect to learn in an online doctoral degree program?

A handful of schools offer online early childhood education doctoral degrees. Some online programs require short, on-campus stays where students can connect and network with classmates and meet with faculty instructors and advisors. Some programs also require students to participate in teaching or research internships, which may require attendance at a local campus or educational facility.

Doctorates in early childhood education typically come in two forms:

  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) — The coursework is tailored to offer an applied approach to early childhood learning. An Ed.D. focuses on helping students develop research-based methods to teaching, assessment of and instructional design for young children.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) - The coursework focuses on the theories of teaching and learning. This academic degree program prepares students to contribute original ideas to topics such as cognitive development, literacy and language acquisition, and the psychology or sociology of childhood.

In practice, the Ed.D. and Ph.D. in early childhood education overlap a great deal, with both degree programs preparing graduates to work on developing education policy and training new generations of educators.

At some universities, students may earn a specialization in early childhood education as a component of a more generalized doctorate in education or curriculum and instruction. Doctoral programs can include coursework along with a dissertation based on original research.

Typical duration: Five to seven years depending on your program, topic of research and individual abilities

General prerequisites: Although a master's degree is not a prerequisite for admission to many programs, some schools do require it. Consult any prospective school's admissions advisor for specific criteria.

Typical coursework: Doctoral programs in early childhood education are typically composed of two phases.

During the first portion, students complete core coursework and elective classes in their area of specialization. Once coursework is complete, students must pass oral and/or written exams to demonstrate their academic competency in the field.

In the second phase, students turn their focus toward the dissertation. These projects are based on original research, and completion of dissertations range from two to three years. Students are required to defend their dissertation in front of a faculty committee before graduating.

What can I do after earning a doctoral degree?

Creating a stimulating and educational classroom environment for pre-K and elementary school students requires an understanding of how young brains develop, how different children learn best, and how to teach language and literacy. Individuals with a doctoral degree in early childhood education can find positions in research and academics.

Accreditation

Accreditation is a voluntary process that schools undergo to demonstrate that their degree programs meet or exceed the high professional standards required by employers. It also serves to show students that the education they are receiving can prepare them for careers in often demanding industries. Additionally, attending an accredited early childhood education program may be a prerequisite for obtaining a teaching license in your state.

The main accrediting body for early childhood education programs online is the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). As of 2016, NCATE and TEAC legacy standards are no longer used for accreditation.

Certification and continuing education requirements for early childhood educators vary by state and school. Some mandate at minimum an associate or bachelor's degree, while others call for a high school diploma, according to the BLS.

Certifications vary from state to state. Preschool teachers may need to obtain the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential offered by the Council for Professional Recognition in some states. This credential needs to be renewed every three years and may require coursework, experience in the field, a written exam, and observation of the candidate working with children. Many states may also require teachers to obtain certifications in order to work with children with special needs. Public school teachers need to be certified or licensed for the grades they teach in all states. Teach.org offers detailed state wise information on certifications.

As with certification requirements, licensing varies from state to state. Preschool teachers need to be licensed to teach early childhood education in public schools and teachers may need to complete continuing education credits in order to maintain their license.

Employment Statistics

Pre-School Teachers, Except Special Education

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Child Day Care Services
  • Religious Organizations
  • Civic and Social Organizations
  • Social Advocacy Organizations
  • Elementary and Secondary Schools
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Illinois
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Grand Island, NE
  • Laredo, TX
  • New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
  • Longview, TX
  • Waterbury, CT

Kindergarten Teachers, Except Special Education

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Elementary and Secondary Schools
  • Child Day Care Services
  • Religious Organizations
  • Civic and Social Organizations
  • Individual and Family Services
States with the highest level of employment
  • Texas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Washington
  • New York
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY Metropolitan Division
  • New Bedford, MA
  • Fairbanks, AK
  • Framingham, MA NECTA Division
  • Waterbury, CT

Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center/Program

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Child Day Care Services
  • Religious Organizations
  • Civic and Social Organizations
  • Social Advocacy Organizations
  • Educational Support Services
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Illinois
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY Metropolitan Division
  • Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL Metropolitan Division
  • Framingham, MA NECTA Division
  • New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
  • Fresno, CA

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Other resources for those aspiring for a career in early childhood education

Article Sources
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