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Why major in early childhood education?

Thinking of a career in education? Early childhood education is where it all starts.

Early childhood education studies how children, 8-years-old and under, learn and grow. It's all about working with kids in social and educational environments. This crucial time builds a solid foundation for little learners to thrive and develop as they progress through school.

According to the National Education Association, children in early childhood programs are better prepared for the next grades (NEA, 2021). These children are also less likely to repeat a grade and more likely to graduate from high school. They will even have higher potential earnings when they enter the workforce.

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With a degree in early childhood education, you'll guide your class's growth and ignite their love for learning. In this area of study, you'll take courses that will prepare you to complete the exam required for a teaching license. From there, you'll be well on your way to helping little ones thrive and become lifelong learners.

Studying early childhood education

What types of courses can you expect to take when studying to be a teacher? Teaching experience and interaction with you children in a learning lab setting is a must-have. You may also take classes about how the body and mind change with age, and how learning changes over time.

Part of your studies will be to develop your own teaching style. You'll do this by gaining your own practical experiences and observing others in professional settings. You'll likely teach in a nearby school that partners with the university.

There, you'll have an opportunity to settle in as a student teacher in an established school. There you'll start to grow your network and gain more hours of teaching young children in different age groups.

Classroom levelAge
Non-elementary early childhood settings: younger than 4 years
Preschool class: 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds
Pre-K class: 5-year-olds and 4-year-olds about to turn 5
Kindergarten class: around 5 years old
First-grade class:around 6 years old 

Can you see yourself teaching a classroom of older children? Early elementary teachers work with ages 4 to 11. Generally, you must have a bachelor's degree and an elementary education license in order to teach in an elementary school. Some states require a graduate degree as well.

Jobs in early childhood education

There are many paths to explore in the role of an early childhood educator. You may teach, gravitate towards leadership positions and/or work as an administrator throughout your career.

Aspiring teachers who complete an undergraduate education in early childhood development and learning will often go on to work in preschools, Head Start programs and child care centers. Experience, a specialized degree and networking can help you find a teaching placement where you will teach your own class. You'll need to fulfill certain education requirements in order to teach certain age groups.

Eight job opportunities in the field of early childhood education:

  1. Preschool/Head Start, Early Head Start teacher
  2. Early childhood special educator
  3. Education coordinator
  4. Early On coordinator
  5. Elementary school teacher
  6. School counselor
  7. Substitute teacher
  8. Family/school/general social worker

Not all career paths in early childhood education stay inside the classroom. You may consider working as a child advocate in the justice system, running your own daycare facility or organizing professional development.

Job outlook in early childhood education

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job growth of kindergarten and elementary school teachers is average. That means around 60,000 new jobs will be created by 2031. Around 120,000 positions are expected to open each year as people transfer, change careers, or retire from teaching (BLS, 2022).

Early education is a game-changer for kids. It's where teachers begin guiding the next generation with a love of learning and meaningful social connections. An undergraduate background in early childhood education will open doors for a variety of jobs inside and outside the classroom. Visit the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children or explore education programs to learn more about becoming an educator.


Central Michigan University has a wide range of early childhood education programs, from undergraduate to doctoral. The Early Childhood Development and Learning program is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Explore child development, family studies, reading and literacy, special education and more to lead in the classroom. Explore educational leadership, administration responsibilities and educational technology to grow your skills to lead in the school. Request information about available programs, explore admissions criteria, and learn more about CMU's College of Education and Human Services to chart your path in early childhood education.


Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Author: by University Communications | Categories: College of Education & Human Services
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