Degrees for Early Childhood: Channeling the immense creative (and destructive) energies of children is a challenging but rewarding task. Market yourself anywhere with courses in childcare development or early childhood education on your responsible yet charming resume. Early childhood education covers an array of topics to prepare graduates to work with children up to age eight. Coursework in these programs might include psychology, child development, curriculum, planning, and education theory. The competition for a good start in school means parents compete for the attention of a skilled children's educator early on in a child's development. Most online programs also include demonstration teaching and teaching practice, which allows the prospective educator to gain real-world experience.
Take the education you receive in ECE and apply it to a preschool, daycare, mentorship, babysitting, a more comprehensive or authoritative pediatric program, or counseling. Depending on your goals, you can find a lot of different career opportunities in Early Childhood when you get your degree. Early Childhood programs are designed to give you the skills that you need to work with children. Working with children can be a rewarding career, allowing you to get more when you have a degree.
Early Childhood Degree Levels Available Online
Undergraduate/Graduate Certificate: 1 year to complete
Associate Degree: 2 years to complete
Bachelor's Degree: 4 years to complete
Master's Degree: 2 years to complete
Doctorate Degree: 4-5 years to complete
Online programs that offer a certificate or associate degree will prepare you to have professional credentials without having to go through a full degree program. There are certifications such as the CDA, or Child Development Associate, that can be obtained in a much shorter time frame. The programs give you the core courses that you need and save the hassles of taking a bunch of courses that you don't need. You'll study things like nutrition, communication, how to teach young children, special needs, and general subjects like math, English, and science.
Bachelor's degrees are designed for people who want to work within a higher career with their training. This four-year program is ideal for Head Start or preschool teachers, as well as people who want to work in the upper levels of daycare facilities. The degree programs include studies in language arts, math and science, communication, creative arts, and others. These longer programs allow you to spend more time in the classroom getting your hands-on skills in place and learning about your career.
Anyone who is experienced in the field and wants to further their education can get an Early Childhood degree at the graduate level. These are necessary for increasing credentials, working in administration or public policy, and are great for those who want to start their own preschool or daycare program. Master's programs are required for some public school programs and doctorate degrees can often allow you to teach Early Childhood Education to others.
Students looking to get a degree in undergraduate studies will need to submit their high school diploma, along with letters of recommendation, standardized testing scores (ACT/SAT), personal statements, and other materials to gain acceptance to a program. There may also be a requirement for having experience working with children, but this isn't typical at the undergraduate level. Graduate programs usually require a degree in a relevant field, a stable and minimum GPA, and standardized test scores. Most programs will also require background checks, physicals, and standard immunizations so that you can prove that you are safe to work with children.
Online Early Childhood vs. Traditional College Programs
Hands-on skills are critical to an education in Early Childhood. Being able to work with young children requires experience and training that should be done in person. However, there are online programs that will help students get the core courses that they need and coordinate them with the appropriate teaching programs and opportunities so that they can get their education and get the hands-on experience that will take them where they need to be in their career. Online programs are an effective option to help you get the courses out of the way and make sure that you get the career that you want when you need something more flexible. With access to all of the online courses that you need and assistance with finding the on-site training programs, it makes sense to get an online degree.
Tuition and Accreditation
Online programs for Early Childhood education are typically more affordable than traditional programs, and range between $6,000 and $19,000 per year for undergraduate programs. Master's and doctorate level programs cost between $8,000 and $19,000. Of course, depending on the program that you choose, the cost could vary.
Finding an accredited program is critical to your success. It's best to choose a program like the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. The NCATE or NAEYC are the best accrediting agencies for an Early Childhood degree. There are also regional and national accrediting agencies. It's important to check with your state licensing board to make sure that you get the exact requirements for your state.
Choosing the Best Early Childhood Degree
The first goal that you have in choosing your degree program is to make sure that you meet your state requirements. You should consult the state department of education so that you can learn about the requirements and make sure that you get the job that you want. You also need to make sure that your degree and certification is recognized by the state board where you live. It's going to be up to you make sure that you meet all of the training and hands-on learning requirements that are assigned by your state, as well. It helps if you can complete these sessions close to your local area so that you don't have a lot of travel time. Be sure to inquire about all of these things so that you can get the degree that you deserve and go on to a rewarding career in Early Childhood Education.