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How do I get an Early Childhood Education Degree?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 August 2018
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An early childhood education degree is often a requirement for working in various institutions that deal exclusively with the care and/or education of young children. From day care centers to preschools and elementary schools, an early childhood education degree is often the minimum requirement for employment. This degree can be obtained in the form of an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree, or in conjunction with a teaching degree.

In the United States, students can begin working towards their early childhood education degree as early as high school by attending career or college prep academic courses through their school. Some high school programs make it possible to earn as many as six credits towards this degree while still in high school, with students obtaining the remaining credits through a community college, completing a two-year degree in early childhood education.

Students can also choose to enroll in a two- or four-year program after completing high school. Those who wish to enter the teaching profession at the elementary level will need to attend four years of college in a teaching program approved by the state and will also need to take a test as well as receive continuing education credits throughout their career. Those with a two- or four-year degree in early childhood education can not teach in a public school, but can find work in preschool and day care programs.

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Areas of study when obtaining an early childhood education degree include child psychology and child development with emphasis on learning disabilities and delays, as well as basic child care practices and standards. The curriculum for teaching programs is more detailed, and focuses on other aspects of education.

An individual holding an early childhood education degree can expect to find work as a day care worker, preschool teacher, summer camp instructor, teacher’s aide, or day care or preschool director and even elementary school teacher, depending on how much education is completed. In most day care and preschool environments, state requirements and curriculum mandates require a minimum of a two-year degree. Paraprofessionals in public schools, or people who provide teaching and classroom assistance may also be required to have a minimum of two years of education in this field.

Most community and state colleges offer programs in early childhood education and may or may not have programs with transferable credits from one institution to another, though that is often the case. If you are interested in obtaining a two-year degree, but plan to acquire more education later, you should check with your local school to see what requirements are necessary for later transfer.

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