How to Become a Preschool Teacher

Preschool Teacher Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $25,180
Avg. Pay / hour $12.11
Education 1-2 Years
Job Outlook 10.5%

A preschool teacher is an educator who specializes in working with young children, specifically in the years before they attend school.

A preschool teacher helps children learn essential skills.

These can be skills like reading, writing, and listening, or social skills like sharing and playing in a group.

Children under the age of five learn through play, so much of the interaction of a preschool teacher with their students involves games, storytelling, and other activities that kids consider fun.

If you enjoy spending time with children, are patient and good at explaining things, and interested in teaching, then you might like to become a preschool teacher.

Many preschool teachers have bubbly personalities, but also have good skills to cope and stay calm in a crisis.

Education Requirements to Become a Preschool Teacher

There are lots of ways you can prepare to become a preschool teacher while you are still in high school.

Getting a job at an after and before school care program is good experience, as is babysitting for friends or family.

You could also volunteer with local children’s groups.

If you want to become a preschool teacher that works in a day care center, you will need a high school diploma.

To work with older children in a preschool, you will need to complete some further education.

While the education requirements vary from state to state, in most places you will need a four-year bachelor’s degree in childhood education to work as a preschool teacher.

After graduation, you will also need to be licensed in your state before you can start working.

A preschool teacher must also be trained in CPR and first aid.

You can learn more about certification requirements at the CDA Council website.

Preschool Teacher Job Description

A preschool teacher works with children ages 3 to 5 to help them develop language, literacy, social, and emotional skills.

This is done through a range of activities, both in groups, or one on one.

A preschool teacher develops curriculums, runs classes, and ensures that children are progressing as they learn.

They may communicate with parents and write reports on a child’s progress.

Teachers work with a range of students from many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

For this reason, being able to relate to all different kinds of people is important.

Many teachers receive specialized training in this area.

Multicultural programs are becoming an important part of the curriculum in many preschools.

Here are some of the tasks of a preschool teacher:

  • Developing curriculum
  • Running classes with children
  • Running activities like storytelling, painting, or other games
  • Supervising play time
  • Helping children with language and literacy
  • Helping children with social and emotional skills
  • Writing reports
  • Communicating with parents
  • Disciplining children

Preschool teachers work for ten months of the year, then get a two month break over summer.

Many use this time for professional development.

Others take a summer job, travel, or peruse personal interests.

Preschool Teacher Salary and Career Path

Upon completing the qualifications and licensing needed to become a preschool teacher, most will get their first job as an assistant teacher.

After a few years they may move on to the position of preschool teacher, leading teacher, and even head of school.

Some will go on to related jobs within the education sector.

These could include:

  • Elementary school teacher
  • High school teacher
  • Professor
  • Educational researcher
  • Leading teacher
  • Head of School

A preschool teacher could expect to earn about $27,000 a year.

With a few years experience, you could expect this to increase to close to $40,000 a year.

Employment growth is strong in this sector.

Once you are qualified you won’t have any problems finding a job.

There is a high turnaround in this field as many leave to persue other jobs, care for their family, or return to study.

If you love spending time with children and are a good leader, then you might enjoy a career as a preschool teacher.

Job prospects are good and expected to increase.

This is also a job that can lead on to other opportunities in the education field.

Many preschool teachers find that working with children to give them a good start in their academic life is very rewarding.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$55,960
New Hampshire$33,210
New Jersey$44,810
New Mexico$31,930
New York$43,880
North Carolina$29,530
North Dakota$34,640
Rhode Island$35,150
South Carolina$29,900
South Dakota$32,040
West Virginia$32,050
Puerto Rico$25,420
Virgin Islands$38,620

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $55,960.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $55,960
New Jersey - $44,810
New York - $43,880
Massachusetts - $43,710
California - $42,210
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education, OCC Code 25-2011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a preschool teacher do?

Preschool teachers are the professionals that help little kids prepare for kindergarten.

Language, vocabulary, social, and basic mathematical skills are developed through play, games, and other interactive activities.

The typical responsibilities of a preschool teacher usually include teaching basic skills (personal hygiene, social skills, number and letter recognition, colors, shapes, and so on); establishing rules and making sure that no one misbehaves in the classroom; using imaginative play and learning, in order to help children explore and try different things out; reading books and stories out loud; promoting social, mental, and physical development, etc.

It is also important for the preschool teacher to ensure that the children are safe.

Aspiring preschool teachers should have impeccable communication skills, be positive and encouraging.

How much do preschool teachers make?

On average, a preschool teacher can make a little more than $25.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $17.000 and $36.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the facility you work in, the location and so on.

Preschool teachers in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and New York, for example, have the highest average salaries, for example.

An entry-level preschool teacher can earn around $8.30 per hour, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $17.40 and more per hour.

How much does it cost to become a preschool teacher?

In most cases, you would need a certificate or an undergraduate degree in early childhood education, in order to become a preschool teacher.

An ECE certificate can cost you around $2.000; however, there are options available for any budget (both online and offline).

You can also go for an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

To improve job perspectives, you can go for a master’s degree.

You can also become a Child Care Professional for around $350.

What is the demand for preschool teachers?

Between 2016 and 2026, the preschool teacher job market is expected to grow by 10.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is a little faster than the average for all occupations in the United States.

The industry is mainly concentrated in Texas, New York, and California.

How long does it take to become a preschool teacher?

You can earn your certificate in early childhood education in 6 months or 2 years (depending on the program).

It will take you 2 years to acquire an associate’s degree, 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and 1-2 years to earn a master’s degree.

You can consider seeking an internship during your last year in university to get that on-job experience as the majority of employers prefer the candidates to have at least a few years of experience.

It will take you 6-12 months to become a Certified Childcare Professional.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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