How to Become a Preschool Teacher: Education and Job Training Requirements

Published Sep 03, 2009

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Preschool Teachers introduce small children to basic language, math and social skills. Employment qualifications vary from school to school, but most Preschool Teachers need a minimum of an associate's degree and/or related experience as a teaching assistant.

Preschool Teacher Career Summary

Preschool is the education that some students receive prior to entering elementary school. Preschool Teachers work with young children, typically ages two to five, utilizing interactive activities and structured play.

In particular, Preschool Teachers instruct children in basic, early language skills, such as vocabulary and storytelling, through rhyming and role-playing games. They introduce basic math and science concepts through activities like counting toys or mixing finger-paint colors. Preschool Teachers also coach children in basic social skills by observing and monitoring play between students.

Ideally, Preschool Teachers should be compassionate and caring individuals, with a love for children. Patience and creativity also are important virtues for Preschool Teachers.

Education Required to Work as a Preschool Teacher

Preschool Teachers typically need a minimum of an associate's degree, although some employers may prefer that teachers have a bachelor's degree. Preschool Teachers don't necessarily need a degree in education, although graduates from early childhood education programs may have better job prospects than those with degrees in other fields.

Job Training and Certifications Required to Become a Preschool Teacher

Job experience is especially important for Preschool Teachers who don't have a formal education. Many Preschool Teachers start as teaching assistants and work their way up. As teaching assistants, aspiring Preschool Teachers learn the ropes by playing support roles in the classroom.

Early childhood education certification is available in every state and the District of Columbia, but it's not necessarily required for becoming a Preschool Teacher. Individual schools typically set guidelines regarding educational and certification requirements for their teachers. Most preschools require that teachers are CPR- and first aid-certified so they'll be prepared to respond to any in-class emergencies.

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