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Preschool Teacher Career Guide

Are you brave enough to work with young children? Are you inspiring, compassionate, driven and have a passion for education?

If the answers yes, then you may thrive as a preschool teacher.

Preschool teachers are responsible for creating and executing lesson plans designed for younger children. Preschool teachers work in preschools (or nurseries) where the children are between the ages of two and five and these lesson plans are designed as preparation for elementary school.

To become a preschool teacher, you will typically be required to have a minimum of an associates degree. To have the best variety of employment opportunities, preschool teachers should strive to achieve a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field.

Preschool Teacher Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Preschool Teacher Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Preschool Teacher field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33680 Substitute Teacher Female 30 $7,000 muscatine, NY 01/01/2010
33500 Preschool Teacher Female 24 None Set Mooresville, NC 01/01/2010
33486 Teacher Female 33 $84,000 hartsdale, NY 01/01/2010
33465 Daycare Owner/Preschool Teacher Female 41 $56,000 THORNTON, CO 01/01/2010
33225 Teacher Female 38 $20,000 Midland, MI 01/01/2010

Overview

What does a preschool teacher actually do?

A preschool teacher is responsible for creating and executing lesson plans designed for younger children. Preschool teachers work in preschools (or nurseries) where the children are between the ages of two and five and these lesson plans are designed as preparation for elementary school. It is an incredibly important and rewarding career as preschool teachers are responsible of the social and intellectual development of young children. The typical duties and responsibilities of a preschool teacher include:

  • Creating and editing lesson plans that are suitable for young children
  • Enforcing classroom rules
  • Observing each child to help them improve their social competencies
  • Encouraging children to interact with each other in a safe environment
  • Organizing nap and snack hours
  • Keeping parents updated on how their children are performing and their development
  • Keeping records of the children’s progress, routines and interests

Why they are needed

All teachers are arguably some of the most important members of society. Preschool teachers play the important role in building a child’s success in their first years of school. Preschool teachers provide the essential structure that helps children grow their skills and understand themselves. Preschool teachers lay the foundations for the rest of a child’s education. Preschool teachers, like all teachers, have the ability to help children develop into successful and inspired people that will have a positive contribution to society!

The pros and cons of a career as a preschool teacher

Pros:

  • Preschool teachers have an excellent schedule, as they normally have summer and winter breaks
  • Preschool teachers get to work in a supportive and friendly working environment where they get to interact with other like-minded people
  • Being a preschool teacher is an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding career as you will be making a huge difference to the lives of young children by teaching them the skills they need to progress successfully through life
  • No two days are the same and there is rarely a boring day as a preschool teacher

Cons:

  • As preschool teachers work with young children, it is a lot of responsibility and can be very draining
  • Not every child will progress and develop as hoped, which can be difficult
  • It is a job that requites a high level of commitment and dedication
  • The salary is not always reflective of the work put in
  • Preschool teachers may have to work with challenging parents who may disagree with what they believe is best for the child’s development

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of preschool teachers is projected to grow 2% from 2019 to 2029, which is slower than the average for all occupations. The importance of early childhood education to improve a child’s intellectual and social development is likely to continue to be recognised. Therefore, preschool teachers should be needed to meet the slowly increasing demand for early childhood education.

Career paths

To become a preschool teacher, you will typically be required to have an associates degree. However, 50 percent of all preschool teachers in Head Start programs nationwide must have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. Those with a degree in a related field must have experience teaching preschool-age children.

In public schools, preschool teachers are generally required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. Bachelor’s degree programs include instruction on children’s development, teaching young children, and observing and documenting children’s progress.

Example Job Titles for Preschool Teacher

Below is a list of common job titles in the Preschool Teacher field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for preschool teachers in the United States was $30,520. The lowest 10% earned less than $21,140 and the highest 10% earned more than $55,050 per year. Preschool teachers at state, local and private elementary and secondary schools received the highest median annual salary ($46,710 per year). This was followed by preschool teachers at individual and family services ($32,510), religious, grantmaking, civic, professional and similar organizations ($31,660) and then finally child day care services ($28,700).

Autonomy and flexibility

Like many careers, autonomy is lower among early career teachers and higher among senior leaders. However, one study found that 38% of all teachers felt that they have ‘a little’ or ‘no’ influence over their professional development goals. This means that many teachers feel they have little autonomy. This is likely to be because teachers need to stick to state regulations and teaching requirements in order to give children the best possible chances.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a preschool teacher, based on average annual salary and number of job available, are:

  1. Minnesota, where the average annual salary is $36,701
  2. New York, where the average annual salary is $42,517
  3. Nevada, where the average annual salary is $33,580
  4. Connecticut, where the average annual salary is $37,319
  5. Massachusetts, where the average annual salary is $36,391

The worst states to be a teacher, according to Zippia, are Georgia, Oregon, Tennessee, Florida and Alabama.

Work environment

62% of preschool teachers were employed by child day care services, religious, grantmaking, civic, professional and similar organizations employed 16% of preschool teachers, elementary and secondary schools employed 14% and individual and family services employed 2% of preschool teachers in the United States.

Teaching children at preschool can be incredibly tiring, as preschool teachers must be active all day. However, it is also very rewarding to see children develop and learn new skills and knowledge.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Preschool Teacher careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Preschool Teacher career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Preschool Teacher.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

Successful preschool teachers are likely to be ENFJ personality types. ENFJ’s, or sometimes called ‘the mentor’, are forward-thinkers. They can always see the potential in other people and want to focus on the possibilities of growth in others. These qualities, as well as patience and a genuine passion for education, is absolutely essential qualities for preschool teachers who must dedicate themselves to helping children to learn the skills and knowledge they need.

Accomplishment and mastery

Despite the stressfulness of the job, all teachers will feel a high sense of accomplishment and mastery when they help their students to develop and learn the basic reading and listening skills they need. However, teaching really isn’t an easy job and teachers can face a lot of scrutiny throughout their career – including that from parents who will be challenging about what and how their child is being taught. This might take away some of the sense of accomplishment and mastery. On top of this, not all children are willing to learn and this may diminish a teachers sense of accomplishment and mastery.

Meaning and contribution

As mentioned previously, all teachers play one of the most important roles in our society. Without the hard work and dedication of preschool teachers, children would not have be taught good foundations for the rest of their education. They would suffer intellectually and developmentally and society would not have the great leaders that it so desperately needs.

Life fit

In general, preschool teachers will have an excellent life fit. Preschool teachers in public schools generally work during school hours and many work the traditional 10-month school year and have a 2-month break during the summer.

Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 9 weeks in a row and then have a break for 3 weeks before starting a new school session.

Who will thrive?

Teaching requires a lot of patience and passion. To thrive as a preschool teacher, you will also need to have qualities such as:

  • Adaptability, as preschool teachers will have to adapt their lesson plans on the spot to meet the needs of each child
  • The ability to remain calm in stressful situations, as teaching a class of young children can be very stressful
  • Mental strength, as children (and their parents!) can be challenging and difficult
  • In order to thrive, preschool teachers must be compassionate, motivating, inspiring and to have a genuine passion for learning

Who will struggle?

Rather obviously, you will struggle as a preschool teacher if you don’t like children. Similarly, if you have no real passion for education and shaping the future generation, then you are likely to struggle as a preschool teacher. A lack empathy and patience is also not beneficial to teachers, who will have to work with challenging and demanding children. On top of all this, those who do not thrive and enjoy interacting with others will ultimately feel drained and uninspired by the amount of social interaction that occurs when working as a teacher.

Requirements

Skills and talents

As well as a genuine passion for teaching and caring for young children, preschool teachers need skills and talents such as:

  • Creativity, as preschool teachers must be able to plan lessons and activities that engage young children and inspire them
  • Communication skills, as preschool teachers need good writing and speaking skills to talk to parents and communicate with small children
  • Patience, as preschool teachers need to remain calm when instructing young children and be understanding when students do not pick things up straight away
  • Physical stamina, as preschool teachers will be on their feet all day and will need to have lots of energy
  • Observational skills, as preschool teachers will need to observe and notice the intellectual development of the children
  • Interpersonal skills, as preschool teachers must be able to understand the child’s emotional needs
  • Resourcefulness, as preschool teachers need to engage students in learning and adapt lessons accordingly

Education

To become a preschool teacher, you will typically be required to have a minimum of an associates degree. To have the best variety of employment opportunities, it is advisable to have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. Those with a degree in a related field must have experience teaching preschool-age children.

Certificates

Some states require preschool teachers to obtain the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. To obtain this credential, you will need to have experience in the field and to complete coursework, a written exam, and observation of the candidate working with children. The CDA credential must be renewed every 3 years.

In public schools, preschool teachers must be licensed to teach early childhood education, which covers preschool through third grade. Requirements vary by state, but they generally require a bachelor’s degree and passing an exam to demonstrate competency.

How to Become

Summary

A preschool teacher is responsible for creating and executing lesson plans designed for younger children. Preschool teachers work in preschools (or nurseries) where the children are between the ages of two and five and these lesson plans are designed as preparation for elementary school.

Immediate action

Sounds like something you’re interested in doing? Great! The best way to become a preschool teacher is to gather as much experience as possible working with children.

Education and learning

To become a preschool teacher, you will typically be required to have a minimum of an associates degree. To have the best variety of employment opportunities, it is advisable to have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. Those with a degree in a related field must have experience teaching preschool-age children.

Skill development

Preschool teachers must renew their CDA credential every year, which allows them to progress their skills throughout their entire career.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Preschool Teacher careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33680 Substitute Teacher Female 30 $7,000 muscatine, NY 01/01/2010
33500 Preschool Teacher Female 24 None Set Mooresville, NC 01/01/2010
33486 Teacher Female 33 $84,000 hartsdale, NY 01/01/2010
33465 Daycare Owner/Preschool Teacher Female 41 $56,000 THORNTON, CO 01/01/2010
33225 Teacher Female 38 $20,000 Midland, MI 01/01/2010

Resources