Associate's Degree Programs in Early Childhood Education
Learn about associate's degree programs in early childhood education. Get information on educational prerequisites and program coursework, and explore career options and certification info.
While most elementary school teachers are required to earn at least a bachelor's degree, an associate's degree in early childhood education can still prepare graduates for entry-level careers working in childcare facilities and preschools. These programs provide students with foundational training in working with young children and their families. Students are taught curriculum development, child safety, child development and many other topics. Programs often provide students the opportunity to specialize in areas such as sociology, special education and teaching non-native English speaking children. Students interested in teaching at public or private schools are prepared to transition to a bachelor's degree program in early childhood education.
Associate degree programs in early childhood education are available at many 2-year community colleges, as well as many online universities. Applicants are required to possess a high school diploma or the equivalent. High school coursework in child development is helpful but infrequently required.
Coursework in early childhood education associate degree programs teach students to work with children at a highly vulnerable and impressionable age. Students learn theory and practical skills through courses such as the following:
- Fundamentals of early childhood education
- Child growth and development
- Child psychology
- Health, safety and nutrition in early childhood education
- Children with special needs
- Child observation and assessment
- Literacy development in early childhood education
- Curriculum development in early childhood education
Popular Career Options
Graduates of associate degree programs in early childhood education are prepared for a variety of careers working with children, though many teaching positions require further education. Popular career options include the following:
- Private childcare provider
- Preschool teacher's aide
- Kindergarten teacher's aide
- Day care center manager
- Head Start teacher
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Advanced education is available at multiple levels in early childhood education, including programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Early childhood educators are required to hold licensure or certification whether they work in childcare centers or schools; however, private childcare providers working with small numbers of children are not always required to be certified. Requirements for certification vary widely by age level and state. Typically, certification requires a background check, proof of immunizations and a training component.
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