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Preschool Teacher Career

Career Description

A Preschool Teacher instructs children (normally up to 5 years of age) in activities designed to promote social, physical, and intellectual growth needed for primary school in preschool, day care center, or other child development facility.

Common Work Tasks

  • Introduce children to mathematics, language, science, and social studies
  • Use games, music, artwork, films, books, computers, and other tools to teach basic skills
  • Use storytelling, rhyming games, and acting games to stimulate language and vocabulary development
  • Have the children work together to improve social skills
  • Show the children how to balance and count blocks when building a bridge or how to mix colors when painting as an introduction to science and mathematical concepts
  • Use small-group lessons, one-on-one instruction, and learning through creative activities such as art, dance, and music to teach preschool children
  • Attend to children’s basic needs by feeding them, dressing them, and changing their diapers
  • Establish and enforce rules for behavior, and procedures for maintaining order
  • Observe and evaluate children’s performance, behavior, social development, and physical health
  • Arrange indoor and outdoor space to facilitate creative play, motor-skill activities, and safety

Other Job Titles

Preschool Teachers are also known by other titles, including:

  • Child Care Workers
  • Daycare Workers
  • Elementary School Teachers
  • Instructional Coordinators

Education, Training, and Experience

Education and Training
Traditional education programs for preschool teachers include courses designed specifically for those preparing to teach. These courses include mathematics, physical science, social science, music, art, and literature, as well as prescribed professional education courses, such as philosophy of education, psychology of learning, and teaching methods.

Certification and Licensure
  Licensing requirements for preschool teachers vary by State. Requirements for public preschool teachers are generally more stringent than those for private preschool teachers. Some States require a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, while others require an associate’s degree, and still others require certification by a nationally recognized authority. The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, the most common type of certification, requires a mix of classroom training and experience working with children, along with an independent assessment of the teacher’s competence.

In addition to being knowledgeable about the subjects they teach, teachers must have the ability to communicate, inspire trust and confidence, and motivate students, as well as understand the students’ educational and emotional needs. Teachers must be able to recognize and respond to individual and cultural differences in students and employ different teaching methods that will result in higher student achievement. They should be organized, dependable, patient, and creative. Teachers also must be able to work cooperatively and communicate effectively with other teachers, support staff, parents, and members of the community. Private schools associated with religious institutions also desire candidates who share the values that are important to the institution.


The median annual salary for a Preschool Teacher is $23,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $40,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $15,000. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of preschool teachers are:

  • Child Day Care Services - $22,980
  • Elementary and Secondary Schools - $36,080
  • Individual and Family Services - $27,700
  • Civic and Social Organizations - $24,840
  • Religious Organizations - $27,650

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  26%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 115,000
  • Employment 2006 : 437,000
  • Employment 2016:  552,000
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