Few careers are more rewarding than teaching. If you have the desire to make a positive impression on young people and the disposition to patiently share your understanding of the world with them, then a teaching career might be the perfect job for you. If you have a knack for nurturing and love the sense of wonder that young children display, you might make a good preschool teacher.
The first five years of life form the foundation for a child's future learning and development. Robust early education programs teach school-readiness skills that help children succeed in school, well beyond Kindergarten. For example, high-quality early childhood classrooms help ensure cognitive development, strong language skills, and social and emotional wellbeing. Skillful teaching during early childhood may even contribute to better lifelong health, wellness, employability, and earning power.
Many states require preschool educators to complete a formal training program. Depending on where you want to work, you may or may not need an undergraduate degree. For example, some states only require a high school diploma and 12 relevant college credits. On the other hand, your school or state may require an associate's degree or higher. The Child Development Associate credential (CDA) is also generally accepted as adequate education and experience.
Montessori schools are an example of preschools that require specialized training. In addition to Montessori teacher training, these schools generally require a bachelor's degree, although your degree doesn't have to be in education. The reason for the specialized training requirement, in this case, is that Montessori preschools are unlike any other type of preschool programs, and the overarching philosophy is not something that can be taught and absorbed overnight.
If you do decide to become a preschool teacher, the challenges and joys that await you are endless. You will never forget the young lives that you help shape, the teachers who assist you, or the exhilaration of witnessing a child's "Aha!" moment. Early childhood education is rewarding work, and well worth the time and effort it takes to get trained and certified for this career.