Early Childhood Education Jobs

Explore the variety of early childhood education jobs and career opportunities, from teacher to administrator, and more.

teacher doing math with student symbolizing early childhood education jobs

If you have ever thought of applying for early childhood education jobs, you will find challenges that require creative solutions, but will also receive immeasurable rewards. Meeting the demands of this critical job takes dedication and energy—from a person like you, driven to perform, teach and love your students every day.

Keep reading to learn about early childhood education career opportunities.

Career Growth

The total number of early childhood education jobs currently tops 2.1 million, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Most early childhood job openings will result from the need to replace the large number of teachers who are expected to retire soon, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With so many job opportunities on the horizon, qualified candidates can look forward to a promising career in early childhood education and spend their work day helping young children achieve their potential.

A career in early childhood education might have you working in these different kinds of institutions:

  • Daycare centers
  • Preschools
  • Kindergartens
  • Specialty schools, such as Montessori or religious schools
  • Elementary schools

Within these settings, you may specialize in teaching the gifted or disabled, or in disadvantaged communities.

Bilingual education is also a growing need in early childhood education as our student base diversifies. Bilingual teachers, and those qualified to teach English as a second language, can increase their early childhood education career opportunities by utilizing their skills at schools that offer programs for non-English speaking students.

Opportunities in Early Childhood Education

With the increased focus on the value of early childhood education and the subsequent wave of new jobs, those qualified to teach young children can anticipate a broad range of career opportunities. Not only can they make a difference in the lifelong learning experiences of their students, but they can improve the quality and standards of the programs they teach—making the outlook and prospects even better for the next generation of teachers.

Job Options Galore

Candidates can enter careers in early childhood education from a variety of backgrounds, although an education degree and certification are the normal route. The advocacy group Pre-K Now recommends, at a minimum, certification, such as a child development associate (CDA), for teacher aides or those working with toddlers or preschool kids. A bachelor's degree and state teacher certification are mandatory for those working with school-age children.

Not Just Entry Level: What to Do Next?

Teachers with advanced degrees and work experience in early childhood education might want to advance their careers in the following ways:

  • Manage or own a daycare center
  • Direct a group of daycare centers or preschools
  • Work as public or private researchers
  • Teach the next generation of early childhood educators

For more information on early childhood education studies, read our article on early childhood degrees.

Hours and Benefits

Because some preschools and child care centers operate year-round with extended hours to support working parents, a career in early childhood education may mean working a full-time schedule that includes summers. Schools and day-care centers often have staggered shifts to cover early morning and late pick-ups without having teachers work overtime.

As a benefit to teachers, a child care center, preschool or kindergarten may offer free or discounted tuition for their children. In addition, many jobs offer benefits packages that include vacation, insurance and other typical employee benefits. Be sure to inquire when you're looking for the right teaching job for you.

The Big Payoff

The primary reward to a career in early childhood education is the chance to play a key role in a child's life—to serve as a caring, responsive adult who offers attention, warmth and creativity, demonstrates how to communicate respectfully, and enthusiastically encourages individual accomplishments. Individuals who excel in early childhood education succeed in building positive relationships with children, helping them to feel valued, and creating a solid platform for their future learning experiences. What more could you ask of a job?