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What Can You Do with an Early Childhood Education Degree?

Drexel University School of Education

Earning a degree in Early Childhood Education can pave the way for a variety of career paths, mostly involving different types of teaching jobs. For instance, it can prepare you to become a teacher of young children who attend educational programs in public or private schools. Grade levels include, prekindergarten, kindergarten, or the early primary grades. But with additional education and certifications, the list of careers you can pursue with an early childhood education degree continues to grow.

This includes a variety of teaching opportunities like English as a Second Language (ESL) or special education. Non-teaching positions like childcare providers or child development researchers are also possible. If you’re interested in building an early childhood education career, take a moment to learn about what it takes to complete a BS in Elementary Education (prek-4 certification).

What is Early Childhood Education?

Early Childhood Education focuses on the education and development of children from birth to eight years old. This who have careers in early childhood education help children at this early stage to develop their social and emotional skills as well as their cognitive abilities. A child’s development at this early stage helps to prepare them for learning academic concepts and skills in later grades.

Career Paths in Early Childhood Education

There are many opportunities available to individuals with a degree in early childhood education. Some positions are in K-12 school settings, while others are available in childcare settings. Below is a list of possible career paths.

Preschool Teacher

No list of early childhood education degree jobs would be complete without mentioning preschool teachers. Instructing during some of the most formative years in a child’s life, preschool teachers are responsible for helping young children, ages 3 – 5, develop basic social, emotional, language, and cognitive skills. This includes things like classroom routine, interpersonal skill, and learning basic academic concepts like colors, shapes, sizes, letters, and numbers.

Preschool teachers need a variety of different skills, many of which can be obtained by earning an early childhood education degree. It also helps to have creativity and patience while working with young children as well as communication skills for interacting with both children and parents.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for preschool teachers is $30,210 per year, with an estimated 18% growth in career opportunities.

Kindergarten and Primary School Teacher

As children grow and develop, their educational needs continue to change. Kindergarten and primary grade teachers are responsible for creating age-appropriate and individually appropriate learning activities, assessing student performance and creating a learning-friendly environment for their students. Like many career opportunities in early childhood education, teachers need leadership skills, ambition, and can benefit from being positive and patient. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is $61,350 per year, with an estimated 7% growth in career opportunities.

Early Childhood Special Education Teacher

Career options for those with a degree in early childhood education also include opportunities to work as a special education teacher. Working with students who have a range of special needs, a special education teacher modifies curriculum to be accessible, meaningful, and effective for students with a wide range of disabilities.

Special education teachers need to be detail-oriented, empathetic, and just as adaptable as their curriculum. In addition to a bachelor's degree, they also need to complete additional training to earn the necessary certification for teaching special education, such as the Special Education Certification Program offered at Drexel University.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for special education teachers is $61,820 per year, with an estimated 8% growth in career opportunities.

ESL Teacher

An English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher is responsible for helping non-native speakers to quickly develop the English proficiency necessary to participate in an English-speaking society. ESL teachers need to complete a Teaching English as a Second Language Certification to work with non-native speakers.

While being bilingual can make it easier to teach another language to others, it’s not required. However, an appreciation for cultural differences is beneficial to work with students with international backgrounds. ESL teachers also work with students with different levels of ability, so it’s helpful to be patient and flexible.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for ESL teachers is $59,720 per year.

Childcare Worker

A childcare worker is responsible for helping provide for a child’s basic needs when no family members are available to do so. This may include positions in daycare, before or after-school programs, or working as a nanny. Day to day, childcare workers supervise children, teaching them language and social skills, and may look after them like a parent. These positions require stamina, patience, and communication skills.

Childcare workers do not necessarily require a college degree to obtain a position, but instead may have many years of work experience. However, childcare workers who have a degree and are certified teachers are much more sought after for early childhood education jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for childcare workers is $27,490 per year, with an estimated 8% growth in career opportunities.

Childhood Development Researcher

There are still many things we don’t understand about human development. A childhood development researcher is someone who tries to learn more than we already know. Researchers can work at universities, for government agencies, or with a variety of independent organizations. However, obtaining a research position in childhood development usually requires at least a Master’s degree or EdD, and many positions require a PhD in Education.

According to Glassdoor, the median pay for educational researchers is $51,590 per year.

School Counselor or Psychologist

A person with a degree in early childhood education could also start in a teaching position and, with extra education credentials, could move into a role as a school counselor or school psychologist. Many states including Pennsylvania require the completion of an approved school counseling programs along with field experiences. School psychologists on the other hand will require not only the completion of a graduate-level program, but also licensure in the state where they practice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for school psychologists is $78,780 per year and the median pay for school counselors is $60,510 per year.

Family Support Specialist

A family support specialist is a good career alternative for those with a degree in early childhood education who may not want to be a teacher. Family support specialists work in private, public, and non-profit agencies. They are called on to help connect families to support services and resources. With additional education, like a master’s degree in social work, an individual will be eligible for a rewarding career as a social worker. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a family support specialist (or social worker) is $50,390 per year, with an estimated growth rate of 12%.

Pursuing a Career in Early Childhood Education

While not required, a degree in early childhood education is the best way to earn a position in all of the careers listed above. Drexel University offers a BS in Elementary Education that includes PreK-4 certification. Students with this degree and certification are eligible to teach in childcare and elementary school settings. In childcare fields, certified teachers are very sought after given their level of knowledge in how to work with young children and their hours of field experience. Students can pursue their degree on-campus at Drexel or online.

Discover the Opportunities in Early Childhood Education at Drexel

What can you do with an early childhood education degree? With the right focus, the list is quite long. If you’re interested in starting an early childhood education career, take a moment to request more information and find out how Drexel can help take your career in the direction you want.