Early Childhood Education Careers

Early childhood education careers cover a range of occupations from childcare workers to administrators to those who teach others to be employed in early childhood education. Adjunct workers such as social service providers help those children and their families who are having trouble with early childhood education navigate the educational system for student success. Finding a career in early childhood education depends on knowing what occupations are available, how much education is necessary, and what salaries are available for each occupation.  It is essential to have different roles in early childhood education because each occupation contributes to the well-being and education of young children.

Learn About Early Childhood Education Careers

Kindergarten Teachers

Kindergarten teachers are workers in the primary grades of school. They teach basic skills such as art, literature, reading, social sciences, science, and math.  The starting credentials for these professionals are bachelor’s degrees with on the job training and continuing certification with university or other professional venues to keep up with state and often federal regulation of the profession.

Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers have essential roles in early childhood development. Preschool teachers plan and implement curriculum for different areas of a child’s development. Curriculum such as motor skills, social and emotional development, and language development, is important. Preschool teachers introduce children basic concepts of reading, writing, vocabulary, and math. The creative arts, sciences, and social studies are intrinsic parts of preschool teaching. Preschool teachers use a variety of media to teach students such as music, games, books, artwork, and other curriculum to teach concepts and skills. Preschool teachers may be in public, private, religious, or other special settings for their work. In any setting, preschool teachers work with children on physical, social, and intellectual growth through basic skill building in shapes, letters, arts and crafts, music, storytelling, and learning colors that prepare students to enter kindergarten. Salaries vary according to educational attainments. Each state has licensing requirements that regulate caregiver training and certification. Requirements ranges from a high school diploma and national Child Development Associate (CDA) credentials to having an associate degree from a community college courses or a bachelor’s college degree or higher in child development or early childhood education.

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers are professionals who work with educationally and physically handicapped students as well as with students who have trouble hearing and the audibly and visually handicapped. They are critical to helping students who have cognitive impairments. Professions that fall within this category are special needs teacher, paraprofessionals, and elementary emotional behavior disorder (EBD) teachers. The typical entry-level education for a special education teacher is a bachelor’s degree with an internship and training.

Teacher Assistants

Other critical parts of a special education team are teacher assistants. There are various types of teacher assistants. They can be assistant teachers, paraprofessionals, and special education teaching assistants who provide one-to-one help for students who have difficulties with classroom lessons such as children with disabilities or students who speak English as a second language. They are also part of Individualized Education Plans  (IEPS), they tutor children in small groups or individually, and they observe and record behaviors as well as  school performances to measure yearly progress, and organize activities for  intellectual, social, and physical development. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the entry-level education of teacher assistant is some college.

Childcare Director

Directors of early childhood programs have many names for their occupations. Whether it is a preschool director, education coordinator, or early head start director, their duties are to establish policies and procedures, set standards for teaching, and provide help to students and teachers with meeting education goals. The entry education is a bachelor’s degree.

Child and Family Social Workers

Child and family social workers work as school social workers, family service workers, and social workers. They provide social services and assistance to children and families in early childhood education. Social workers work with issues such as tardiness and misbehavior. They often work in tandem with other special service workers at schools and other early childhood education facilities. Most social workers need a bachelor’s degree in social work. Clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and two years of experience in a supervised clinical setting after they obtain their degree. Clinical social workers must be licensed.

Social and Human Services Assistants

Social and human service assistants assist families and children for psychological, rehabilitative, and social needs to support children and families. They can act as part of a school’s broader special needs program, either as employees or through contractual services. The typical entry-level education is a high school diploma or equivalent and therefore salaries are not high.

Guidance Counselors

Guidance counselors, school counselors, and educational counselors work with school-age children and parents to provide academic counseling as well as social, personal, or behavioral assistance. They may also be part of special education teams for assistance with crisis intervention and resolutions. Guidance counselors require a master’s degree as an entry education level.

Early Childhood Aides

An early childhood aide assists preschool programs by performing tasks under the leadership of a head teacher and communicating concerns to the supervising teacher. These employees work with children in the classroom with preparing food cleaning rest rooms as well as classrooms. The qualifications are minimal with a high school diploma or GED and one year in caring for young children.

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers earn the lowest pay of all in early education. This is due to the lower level of education needed. Often childcare workers only have a high school degree or, at the most, an associate’s degree from a community college.

Examples of Where Early Childhood Educators Work

A degree in early childhood education can take you more places than just a classroom. Even with major budget cuts to public education across the country, the demand for early educators is continuing to grow. Some roles or possible career options could include any of the following:

  • Preschools
  • Kindergarten through third grade teaching positions in public/charter or private schools
  • Daycare
  • In-home daycare
  • Tutoring or education centers
  • Head Start programs
  • Child development services
  • Curriculum planning


Tell us a little about yourself and we’ll connect you with schools that offer early childhood education degree programs.