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Preschool Teacher

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(5.7 out of 10)

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Unemployment Rate

5.9 percent

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Preschool is the only school environment where play and creativity are more important than worksheets and homework. Preschool teachers use play time and story time to encourage social development and teach problem-solving skills. The supplies of a preschool teacher are quite different from those of other teachers. They use crayons and puzzles instead of dry-erase markers and overhead projectors. They host 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 Dora the Explorer and Doc McStuffins. You’ll come home covered in glue and papier-maché, but without papers to grade. Regardless of how infantile your days may seem, your investment in this career will be just as meaningful as the time elementary, middle and high school teachers spend with their students.

Preschool teachers come up with imaginative ways to engage their young audience and prepare them for the structure of future school years. They employ what might seem like a simple curriculum to assess the social and mental development of their students, and they help both children and their parents prepare for the school years that lie ahead. Most preschool teachers work with kids ages 3 to 5, but they’re trained to relate to children from infancy to age 8. Since there will be an increased number of schoolchildren ages 3 to 5 in the coming years, more qualified professionals will be needed to teach preschool. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts faster-than-average job growth for preschool teachers – 17.4 percent – up to the year 2022. That translates to nearly 76,400 new jobs.


Instructing very young children isn’t as lucrative as teaching preteens or teenagers. A preschool teacher earned a median salary of $27,130 in 2012. The profession’s top salaries were more than $48,660 a year, while the lowest salaries were near $18,000. Smaller cities near the East Coast tend to pay preschool teachers more. Vineland, N.J., leads the list of top-paying metropolitan areas.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $36,360
Median $27,130
25th Percentile $21,200


Hours of babysitting children could increase your comfort in the preschool classroom. Formal education and additional experience will also help you land a job, including experience as a child care worker or a teacher assistant. In child care centers, preschool teachers need at least a high school diploma and a certificate in early childhood education to get a job, but many preschool programs require teachers have at least a bachelor’s degree. Those hired for Head Start programs will need at least an associate degree. In public schools, preschool teachers generally need to have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.

Previous experience working as a nanny or family child care provider is common among budding preschool teachers, since a few states require instructors to have experience in a child care setting. This experience could also help an aspiring teacher hoping to obtain a certificate in early childhood education.

Additional certification requirements vary by state. For example, some states require preschool instructors to earn a Child Development Associate certification, while others might mandate the Child Care Professional designation. To be eligible, teachers must have a high school diploma, complete pertinent coursework and have field experience. Most preschool teachers must be licensed to teach early childhood education.

Reviews & Advice

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 opens the road to a higher salary. However, a bachelor’s degree isn’t necessary for all preschool teaching positions. Ideal candidates for preschool teacher jobs display exemplary communication skills with both young children and their parents. They must also be nurturing, since preschoolers need more affection and encouragement than older students. Prior experience working with young kids is required, and extensive experience will set applicants apart from the pool of candidates.

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility fair Average
Stress Level poor Above Average
Flexibility fair Average
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Last updated by Evan Taylor.

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