|Number of Jobs:||113,600|
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The tools of a preschool teacher are quite different from those of other instructors. They use crayon and toy boxes instead of chalk and calculators. They run story time and monitor sandbox play, but don’t assign homework or act as detention monitors. If you choose this field, you’ll probably hear plenty about The Backyardigans and Yo Gabba Gabba! and nothing of Twilight or Justin Bieber. You’ll come home covered in glitter and Play-Doh, but without final exams to grade. Regardless of how infantile your days may seem, the time you spend with your students will be just as meaningful as the time elementary, middle, and high school teachers invest in their kids.
A preschool teacher has been trained to use play to engage and teach young children. They employ what might seem like avery simple curriculum to assess the social and mental development of their students, and they help both children and their parents to prepare for the school years that lie ahead. Most preschool teachers work with kids ages three to five, but they’re trained to relate to children from infancy to age eight. Since there will be an increased number of schoolchildren across a range of ages, qualified professionals are needed to teach on all grade levels, including at the preschool level. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts significant job growth for preschool teachers—24.9 percent—up to the year 2020. That translates to nearly 115,000 jobs this decade.
Instructing very young children isn’t as lucrative as teaching preteens and teenagers. A preschool teacher made an average salary of $26,620 in 2011. Top salaries eclipsed $45,000 a year, while the worst salaries were south of $20,000. Smaller cities tend to pay their preschool teachers better. Case in point: McAllen, Texas, with a population of 129,877, according to the last U.S. Census, pays its teachers approximately $50,390.
Consider picking up as many babysitting gigs as possible, because any experience working with very young children will pave the way to becoming a competent preschool teacher. Formal education facilitates additional experience in a classroom, possibly working as a childcare worker or as a teacher assistant. Instructors will also need at least a certificate in early childhood education to start out, although many programs and school systems require teachers have at least a bachelor’s degree.
A preschool teacher’s best weapon is a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Not only will it ensure more job opportunities, but it also qualifies that person to teach grades kindergarten through third, and therefore opens the road to a higher salary. On the other hand, a bachelor’s degree isn’t necessary for all preschool teaching positions, and it’s also not the be-all and end-all of receiving a job offer. The most-qualified candidates display exemplary people skills for communicating with both very young children and their parents. He or she must also be very nurturing, since preschool-aged kids need more affection and encouragement than older students. Prior experience working with young kids is another requirement for landing a job, but the depth of that experience is what would place you ahead of other worthy applicants