An Overview of an Early Childhood Development Degree

The desire to educate today’s young children is a common one. There are many opportunities available for individuals to work with young children in an educational setting, and most of these opportunities require a job candidate to have an early childhood development degree. Many colleges and universities across the country offer a child development degree program that can be pursued.

Different Levels of Degrees

Those interested in pursuing a career in this field should be aware that there are different levels of early childhood education degree programs that can be pursued. These include:

• A childhood development Associate degree from a community college
• A Bachelor’s degree in early childhood studies or education from a four-year college or university
• A Master’s degree, which typically is offered from many colleges and universities that offer a Bachelor’s degree
• A PhD from a select group of colleges and universities across the country

It is common for early childhood educators to enter the field with an Associate’s degree, working as a substitute teacher, a preschool teacher, or in some other capacity while also furthering his or her education by pursuing a more advanced degree online or through evening classes. Many schools allow students to earn ECE units online.

Job Opportunities

Obtaining an Early Childhood Education Degree - St. Theresa's in Ghana

St. Theresa’s Early Childhood Education Center in Sekondi, Ghana

There are numerous job opportunities available to those who have an early childhood development degree. The job opportunities that a candidate may qualify for will depend on the level of degree held as well as prior work and volunteer experience. Some of the many opportunities that can be explored and pursued with child development degrees include:

• A preschool teacher or daycare teacher
• A preschool or daycare administrator
• A nursery school teacher
• A camp counselor
• An elementary school teacher, possibly with a specialization in a certain niche area
• An educational researcher
• A curriculum development specialist
• An adoption agency representative
• A consumer protection agency representative
• A social worker
• A youth services specialist for a social services organization

Earning an Early Childhood Development Degree

Graduation with an early childhood development degree is sought by many aspiring ECEs

Graduation with an early childhood development degree is sought by many aspiring ECEs

Many of the job opportunities listed above require only a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or early adolescent education. Others, however, require a job candidate to hold a minor or secondary degree in certain areas such as business, social work, and more. When considering the option to work towards a child development degree, it is important to consider the overall career path desired. Some jobs may also require special job experiences and skills, CPR and first aid training, and more. A student can work more efficiently towards achieving the skills and education required to meet career goals when they are defined early on.

A Possible Career Path

By understanding the career goals a student has in mind, it is easier to develop an educational plan that meets those goals. For instance, it may be possible for a student who aspires to be an elementary school principal to first earn an Associate’s degree so he or she can work in a childcare or preschool setting. While gaining real-life experience on the job, he or she may also work towards a Bachelor’s degree through distance, evening, or online education. Then he or she can become an elementary school teacher, gaining classroom experience while working towards a Master’s degree through evening or online classes. Once a Master’s degree is earned, he or she may have the classroom experience and educational background alike to apply for a position as a principal.

Salary Range

The salary potential for an individual who holds an early childhood development degree will vary significantly based on the level of their degree, the job experience and skills they have, the actual job position, and the geographic location they live in. An individual may typically earn between $22,000 and over $65,000. Those with higher earning potential are those who have made improving their education and gaining experience necessary to further their career a goal.

While considering which college or university to attend and earn an early childhood development degree from, it is important for students to also consider their career goals. Once career goals have been defined, the student can then combine real-life work experience with classroom education to enjoy greater job opportunities and higher salary potential.