Degree and Experience Required to Be a Preschool Teacher

Aspiring Preschool Teachers with college degrees in areas not related to Early Childhood Education may need the Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) credential. The CCP certificate is offered by the National Child Care Association and is recognized by many states.

How To Become a Preschool Teacher: Requirements and FAQs

Being a preschool teacher requires a passion for working with kids and a desire to foster engagement and creativity. Preschool teachers prepare young children to enter kindergarten by providing guidance, support and learning activities.

This career usually requires you to have some formal training or education and state licensure. In this article, we’ll explain how to become a preschool teacher, what one does and answer some common questions about being a preschool teacher.

PUBLIC SCHOOL PRESCHOOL TEACHER: Degree and Experience Required

If you want to be a preschool teacher in a public school, you should expect to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and 2-5 years’ teaching experience in early childhood education. There is a high demand for these positions and very few openings, so administrators can be selective in who they choose.

Positions available are usually a Lead Preschool Teacher or Assistant Preschool Teacher in HeadStart or the district’s free preschool program. Hourly rates are typicially $8-$10/hr. depending on the position.

A State-by-State Look at Preschool Teacher Education Requirements

Complete a teacher preparation program approved by the Arizona State Board of Education at the undergraduate and graduate level or a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited university or college, along with at least 37 semester hours of early childhood education courses and at least 8 practicum semester hours.

Complete an approved licensure preparation programs, which includes a bachelor’s degree or higher, pedagogy requirements, and a student teaching experience, or an Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure (APPEL) program, for candidates who already possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university.

Complete and approved teacher preparation program, which combines an undergraduate or graduate degree program and pedagogy and student teaching components.

  • A four-year bachelor’s degree in one of the following:
  • Early childhood education
  • Elementary education
  • Special education
  • Family and child development
  • Child psychology; OR
  • A bachelor’s degree in an unrelated area, AND:
  • At least 2 early childhood education college courses with at least one course being introduction to early childhood education or guidance strategies; AND
  • At least 6 months of verified experience in the care and supervision of four or more children under the age of 6 (teacher’s aide, teacher in a childcare center, elementary school, or preschool); OR
  • An associate’s degree in early childhood education, which must include at least 2 early childhood education college courses with at least one course being introduction to early childhood education or guidance strategies; AND
  • At least 6 months of verified experience in the care and supervision of four or more children under the age of 6 (teacher’s aide, teacher in a childcare center, elementary school, or preschool); OR


Preschool Teachers typically need at least a Bachelor’s Degree but some Head Start programs may only require an Associate’s Degree. Almost all preschools require Preschool Teachers to have a degree or certification in Early Childhood Education (ECE). Some states require Preschool Teachers to obtain certificates in teaching, CPR, and first aid.

Step 1: Take Art and Music Classes in High School

Aspiring Preschool Teachers should excel at all core subjects, including reading, writing, and arithmetic. However, creativity is also necessary for this profession. High school students should take classes in art and music. Art and music are often part of preschool classes because they encourage creativity, problem-solving skills, and self-confidence.

Spending more time around preschool-age children may also help aspiring Preschool Teachers. Volunteering at a childcare facility or babysitting can help students develop the patience needed for this job.

Step 2: Earn an Associate’s Degree

Most states require Preschool Teachers to hold Bachelor’s Degrees, but some only require an Associate’s Degree combined with additional training. Aspiring Preschool Teachers should review the requirements in their state to determine the right educational path.

California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Montana, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington require a minimum of an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education (ECE), Child Development, or a related field. Some states may allow unrelated fields of study if the student completes specific early childhood education college courses.

Most programs include 60 hours of coursework, with a combination of general education courses and early childhood education courses. Some of the courses may be transferable to a four-year program for those who intend to go back to school.

Step 3: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Keep in mind that private schools do not need to follow the state requirements. Private schools may hire candidates with Associate’s Degrees but are more likely to prefer teachers with Bachelor’s Degrees.

Career Options and Salary Info for Teachers

Public Schools –
These schools hire a vast number of certified preschool teachers to teach early childhood development programs. They are funded by the state. The basic requirement to apply for a teaching position in these schools is a State Teacher Certification (a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or any similar degree).

Private Schools –
These learning institutions are managed by private organizations and require learners to pay tuition fees. Many of them offer enhancement programs like a second language, along with a comprehensive preschool program.

Head Start Program –
Head Start was established to provide the needs of low-income families and their children in 1965. It is funded and administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start Bureau.
The primary objective of this program is to deliver free services to eligible beneficiaries which include preschool education for three-year-old children. The program is done in a group setting, and the teaching staff works on specific schedules.

Community-based Program –
In Georgia, there is a national Communities in Schools (CIS) system that works to improve the academic performance of learners across the state. CIS employs teachers, tutors, and volunteers to provide in-school and after-school programs, career preparation, mentoring, and tutoring. It also ensures the delivery of “CIS Model” which has long-term sustainability, fidelity, and scalability.

Faith-based Programs –
These schools offer a comprehensive development program with religious education. They are often located in churches and other religious institutions. Their funds come from church members.

Military Programs –
The government provides financial aid to students from Georgia who want to pursue a career in the military. This aid is in the form of loans, grants, or subsidies from the federal fund. The institutions train teens to develop their core values such as respect and discipline.