Early Education and Care teachers work with infants, toddlers and preschoolers. All three age groups have their charms, as well as their challenges. If you're energetic, patient and enjoy working with young children, getting an EEC certification could be right for you.
Duties vary depending on the age group under your supervision. Children under the age of 1 are usually considered infants. Children between the ages of 1 and 3, and still in diapers, are typically classified as toddlers. Preschoolers, aged 3 to 5, are generally toilet trained and able to do a number of things independently or with limited help.
Teachers of infants provide basic care and do not provide direct instruction. Children of this age need to be fed, changed, put down for naps and be supervised at all times.
Toddlers are active and curious. Day care teachers help toddlers learn social, motor and language skills and supervise their playtime.They monitor snacks, mealtimes and nap times. Teachers change diapers and may assist toddlers in dressing appropriately for outdoor activities.
Preschoolers continue to work on their social, motor and language skills as their school day begins to incorporate some academic learning. Preschool teachers may present lessons, read stories and supervise indoor and outdoor play activities. Teachers may spend time during the evening or on weekends planning lessons and activities, and updating notes on individual children. They usually hold scheduled meetings with parents or caregivers to discuss each child's progress.
Day care directors supervise teachers and staff. They provide training and oversee the management of the center to ensure that standards of safety and cleanliness are maintained. They also meet with parents and caregivers.
Education and Certification Requirements
Early Education and Care is governed by state-level agencies to ensure the quality of child care centers and the teachers employed by them. EEC qualifications vary from state to state. Talk with an academic advisor and visit your state's Department of Education website to find out what you need to do to earn EEC certification.
Although EEC certification is not required in every state or facility, becoming certified as an infant and toddler teacher or a preschool teacher can enhance your employment opportunities and salary. EEC training is available at many vocational schools and community colleges.
Day care centers operate independently, as part of regional or national chains and within business organizations to provide child care benefits to employees. Day care facilities can be in private homes, in religious facilities, in stand-alone centers or in a designated section of a larger building.
Many day care centers open very early so parents can drop off children before work. Likewise, they stay open late, typically until 6 p.m., for pickup after work. Center hours vary by facility, and opportunities for full-time and part-time work are available accordingly. Some day care centers and preschools are open only during the school year, while others are open year-round.
Day care staff must be prepared to be physically active during the workday. Uniforms are not typically required, but comfortable, washable clothing is recommended, along with shoes that allow for long periods of being on your feet.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks data and makes employment projections for all civilian occupations. The BLS classifies EEC workers in two ways, as preschool teachers and child care workers. Your job title and pay will depend on a variety of factors, including your level of education and certification, the employer, the number of hours worked and the geographic location.
The BLS reports that the median annual salary for a preschool teacher was $29,780 in 2018. The median annual salary for child care workers was $23,240 for the same period. Median salary means that half in the profession earned more while half earned less.
The continuing emphasis on early childhood education means that opportunities for preschool teachers are expected to grow by 10 percent through 2026, faster than average compared with all other occupations. The job growth for child care workers will be about 7 percent, which is considered average growth.