What You Should Know About This Degree
While an online degree in early childhood education prepares you to work with young children in settings like Head Start programs, daycare centers and private homes, it is not the same as a teaching degree. Most early childhood education programs do not lead to teaching certification, which is usually required for teaching jobs in public and private schools. Consider what your ultimate career goals are, and if you need a degree program that will prepare you for teaching certification.
Each state sets its own requirements for being a preschool or early childhood educator or center director. Some states mandate that early childhood educators have the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, which requires a minimum of 10 instructional hours in eight distinct areas. It’s important to familiarize yourself with your state’s requirements, and make sure that you select a program whose curriculum aligns with those standards.
Although all the coursework for the listed programs can be completed online, most of them have a practicum component that involves working with children in an early learning setting. The number of hours and type of setting may vary by program, but you must consider how this requirement will fit into your schedule when researching programs.
When researching online early childhood education programs, be sure to ask the following questions:
- Does this program have the specialization I want? There are a number of areas of focus under the umbrella of early childhood education, including infant-toddler mental health; administration and leadership, and special education. If concentrating on one of these areas is important to you, make sure the schools you are researching offer coursework or a specialization in that topic.
- Where can I work with this degree? Because individual states set their own requirements for early childhood educators, some programs only prepare graduates to work in the state in which their degree is granted, even if the program is available online. Be sure to identify where your degree makes you eligible to work post-graduation.
Once you’ve found the programs that interest you, research their application processes and requirements. This information is typically available on the program’s webpage; you can also contact the program directly if you have questions.
Financing your education is another important consideration. Research scholarship opportunities and financial aid deadlines. If you are currently employed, check with your employer to see if tuition remission/reimbursement benefits are available.