Education Requirements for Teaching Pre-K Classes

Pre-K teachers work in classrooms and day care centers teaching and caring for children who are younger than kindergarten age. Education requirements for Pre-K teachers vary by state, but some education is usually necessary.

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Education Requirements for Teaching Pre-K Classes

According to Pre-K Now (, a public education organization that advocates for Pre-K programs for all children, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) has set national guidelines for Pre-K teacher education, but not all states and programs have adopted the standards.

According to Pre-K Now, 26 out of the 48 state Pre-K programs require teachers to hold a bachelor's degree and some of those states require teaching certificates. The Head Start Program requires teachers to hold at least a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.

For state-by-state information, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) publishes a report that includes state-by-state Pre-K and preschool teacher standards and statistics (

Education Programs

Child Development Associate Credential

The Council for Professional Recognition (CPR) sets standards for a CDA credential, which is geared towards Pre-K teachers working in preschools, family child care settings or as a home visitor. Pre-K teacher candidates enrolled in a CDA program learn how to create healthy learning environments, promote social development, encourage physical activity and work with parents to meet learning goals.

The CDA program typically involves three courses and a period of in-classroom training that prepares graduates to apply for CDA credentials. A representative of the CPR visits the Pre-K teacher candidate to observe their performance and conduct an interview before awarding the CDA credential.

Early Childhood Education Programs

Bachelor's degree early childhood education programs prepare students to teach pre-K through third, fifth or sixth grade, depending on the program. Students in an early childhood education program learn how to teach Pre-K and early elementary students through extensive field work and in-classroom discussions and lectures. Early childhood education programs cover the subjects a Pre-K and elementary school teacher covers in the classroom, like science, math, English and arts. Students also learn about the development of children from Pre-K age through early childhood.

A bachelor's degree in early childhood education offers Pre-K teachers opportunity to advance to positions as lead teachers, childhood care center directors or teaching positions at higher grade levels, reported the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (

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