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Working with young children can be a rewarding career choice, but in order to ensure that young children are not only receiving an adequate education but are also safe and well-cared for, anyone working with children in Arizona must be certified. If you plan to work with children from birth through kindergarten in Arizona, you must earn an early childhood education certificate or early childhood endorsement by July 2012 by completing education and training requirements.
All early childhood or preschool teachers in Arizona must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and complete an early childhood teacher education program or its equivalent. Arizona considers at least 37 semester hours of early childhood education courses from an accredited institution to be equivalent. Those courses must include study of the foundations of early childhood education, classroom guidance and management, characteristics of typical and atypical childhood behavior, child growth and development, relationships, instructional methodologies, and assessing and monitoring the progress of young children. You must also complete college-level courses on the Arizona and U.S. Constitutions, or pass equivalent examinations.
In addition to classroom training, preschool teachers must also gain practical experience by working in the field. State law requires that prospective teachers complete eight hours of practicum, which includes four semester hours of supervised field study or student teaching in a birth-to-kindergarten setting, and four hours of supervised practice in a kindergarten through grade three classroom. These requirements can also be met by completing one year of verified teaching experience in a classroom setting.
All Arizona preschool teachers must pass the Professional Knowledge Early Childhood and Subject Knowledge Early Childhood sections of the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment. This requirement can be waived if you have a passing score on an equivalent exam from another state or a valid comparable certificate from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. The Professional Knowledge section test can be waived if you have three years of verified teaching experience, and the Subject Knowledge test can be waived if you have a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education.
Because of the high number of bilingual students in Arizona, preschool teachers are required to complete 45 clock hours of Structural English Immersion (SEI) training to receive their teaching certificates. If you are already endorsed as a Full Bilingual or Full ESL teacher, the SEI requirement is waived.
All teachers in Arizona certified after January 1, 2008, must have an Identity Verified Prints fingerprint card. You can receive your provisional certification without fingerprinting, but a copy of the card is required to get your standard certification.
Preschool teachers in Arizona are initially granted a provisional certification, which is good for three years. The provisional certificate is not renewable, but in some cases it can be extended. After two years of verified full-time teaching experience, the provisional certificate can be converted to a standard certificate, which is good for six years.
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An adjunct instructor at Central Maine Community College, Kristen Hamlin is also a freelance writer and editor, specializing in careers, business, education, and lifestyle topics. The author of Graduate! Everything You Need to Succeed After College (Capital Books), which covers everything from career and financial advice to furnishing your first apartment, her work has also appeared in Young Money, Lewiston Auburn Magazine, USA Today, and a variety of online outlets. She's also been quoted as a career expert in many newspapers and magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Parade. She has a B.A. in Communication from Stonehill College, and a Master of Liberal Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.