So, you’re thinking about teaching preschool. You wonder what degree and experience requirements there are for being a preschool teacher. You’ve babysat and helped with nursery classes at church. You have your own kids that you have been working with.
Is that enough? Do you need a degree to teach preschool? Do you need to have years of experience teaching preschool? Do you have to be a certified teacher?
The great news for you is that you can teach preschool RIGHT NOW regardless of what degree or experience you have. (YES, some places require you to have a certain degree or experience, but if you start your own local or online preschool you don’t need a degree or experience!) What IS required is that you have a genuine passion and love for children. You can learn the rest.
In almost all settings, you should expect to get CPR/1st Aid Certified, have a background check, and stay current on at least 4 hours of professional development each year.
The requirements to teach preschool vary by setting, so let me explain each one below.
PUBLIC SCHOOL PRESCHOOL TEACHER: Degree and Experience Required
If you want to be a preschool teacher in a public school, you should expect to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and 2-5 years’ teaching experience in early childhood education. There is a high demand for these positions and very few openings, so administrators can be selective in who they choose.
Positions available are usually a Lead Preschool Teacher or Assistant Preschool Teacher in HeadStart or the district’s free preschool program. Hourly rates are typicially $8-$10/hr. depending on the position.
PRIVATE SCHOOL PRESCHOOL TEACHER: Some degree and experience required
If you’re looking to teach at a private school, they usually are more flexible in the degree and experience they’re looking for, but they usually do want SOME type of degree in Early Childhood Education, Child Development, or a similar field. They’ll usually want some experience teaching (or in childcare) as well, but they usually have training programs that will help you learn their methods of teaching.
You might be able to secure a higher-paying job, as private schools typically pay between $12-$15/hr. for a preschool teacher with college coursework and experience. Unfortunately, these private preschools are rare and hard to find.
CHILDCARE PRESCHOOL TEACHER: Some degree and experience required
Unfortunately, there aren’t many positions available for public school or private preschool teachers, so most people who have a degree in Early Childhood Education or Child Development end up in childcare centers.
While you might find an exceptional program with high standards of education for their preschoolers, likely you will end up in a role where you’re shifting from one room to the next. These childcare centers usually float their staff depending on the number of children in every classroom, and as children arrive or leave, staff move from room to room to keep ratios in line.
However, they still expect you to have some college coursework or degree in Early Childhood Education, Child Development, or similar field simply because there is such a high supply of people with those degrees, and very little demand for jobs.
Sadly, your expensive college degree will likely only earn you $8/hr. in a childcare setting dealing with all ages, including infants, and rarely teaching an actual preschool class. You’ll also have to deal with long 8-hr. shifts each day. You’ll usually start out as an Assistant Preschool Teacher and then have to work your way into a Lead Preschool Teacher position.
ONLINE PRESCHOOL TEACHER: Some degree and experience required
One of our preschool owners said she started her own online preschool because she couldn’t get a job as a preschool teacher in an online program! They required her to have at least an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and 2-5 years’ experience as a preschool teacher. This is common, as most large online preschool programs can be very selective in who they choose to hire as their preschool teacher.
They usually pay between $10-$15/hr. but these positions are high in demand (after all, you get to work from home doing what you love!) so it’s hard to get chosen.
As she didn’t have a degree, she chose to start her own online preschool (see below).
PRESCHOOL TEACHER IN YOUR OWN LOCAL PRESCHOOL: No degree or experience required
If you are looking to teach preschool from your home or private setting you can! You can start by opening your home to preschool families in your neighborhood looking for a private, homelike learning environment for their child to learn.
There is no degree or experience required (when you teach up to the # of children at one time without being licensed in your state). Check with your local licensing body to see what requirements there are for private preschool in your area. (Usually every state has a maximum number of children you can teach at one time without being licensed.)
You also want to make sure to check with any Homeowner’s Association or landlord to get permission. In some states it is illegal for a landlord to prevent you from having a preschool in your home. Make sure you check all of your local laws regarding opening a private preschool.
If you want to teach more than the maximum number of children at one time without being licensed, then you just need to get licensed. You’ll get licensed as a daycare and operate as a preschool. It’s easy! Most states don’t require a specific degree or experience to get licensed.
You can teach preschool classes for 2.5 hours per day for children ages 3-5. You could teach MWF and T_TH 9-11:30 a.m. classes, and MWF and T_TH 12-2:30 p.m. classes. If you taught those 4 classes with 6 students each, you would have 24 students in your local preschool and you could make $2,500-$4,000/mo.!
PRESCHOOL TEACHER IN YOUR OWN ONLINE PRESCHOOL: No degree or experience required
As there is no governing agency over the internet, there is no licensing department for online preschool. Therefore, there is no degree or experience required to teach online preschool! Also, there is no limit to how many students you can have in your preschool classes!
There are a LOT of people looking for online programs for their children. You can provide a specialty or niche such as teaching Spanish to preschoolers, or creating a Montessori-inspired online preschool.
Parents are looking at education like they see extracurricular activities and want to enroll their children in programs to accelerate their learning. Some students have fallen behind on their skills and need assistance catching up. Online programs can be good for this as there are smaller group sizes and opportunities for you to work one on one with a child that is struggling.
Parents also appreciate the online platform so they don’t have to run another place to drop their kid off for an activity. They can complete the work from the comfort of their own home.
You can teach either pre-recorded Teaching Time lessons or live Preschool Pals classes on Zoom (or a mixture of both) for 30 min. per day for children ages 3-5. You could teach MWF and T_TH 12-12:30 p.m. classes. If you taught those 2 classes with 12 students each, you would have 24 students in your online preschool and you could make $1,500-$3,000/mo.!
Teaching your way
Whether you choose public, private, childcare, online, or even to start your own local or online preschool, it is good to gain knowledge about child development and education from resources in your community. Educating yourself can make you the expert in your area. People will want to join your preschool because of your knowledge, passion and caring attitude toward their child. You can teach preschool, even if you don’t meet the degree and experience requirements to be a preschool teacher!