Master’s in Early Childhood Education Career Guide

What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Program?

Early childhood education programs cover instructional strategies and
educational theory for children up to age 8. As a student in an online
master’s in early childhood education program, you’ll enchance your
knowledge and understanding to teach children from preschool to age 8,
which is usually second grade. Some students may also choose to study
infant-toddler education, normally facilitated by parents, which covers
birth to age 2.

Online programs for a master’s in early childhood education offer the
same quality as on-campus programs. Completing an online degree is
convenient because it allows you to review course materials and complete
assignments whenever you have time — it’s a great option for those who
must balance their coursework with other commitments. It’s important to
consider all the options and different program offerings to find an
online degree program in early childhood education that’s right for you.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POSSIBLE CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR
Early Childhood Education Generalist Provides students with a wide range of educational techniques and topics for teaching young children, typically from preschool to second grade. Early childhood classroom teacher (preschool – grade 2), multi-subject general educator
Early Childhood Administration Students enrolled in this concentration learn about effective leadership techniques and how to develop organizational and administrative skills. Director of child care center, elementary school administration, early childhood teacher
Early Childhood Special Needs Effective teaching strategies for teaching children with special needs from this age group. Early childhood education special needs aide, teacher or specialist

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education

Programs for students obtaining an online master’s in early childhood
education let them explore the latest theories, educational models and
instructional strategies in the field. Students learn how to incorporate
games, activities and sensory exploration into lessons in order to make
them engaging for young learners. Students in master’s programs for
early childhood education also learn how to monitor young children’s
physical, social, emotional and cognitive development to ensure they’re
meeting age-appropriate milestones.

While coursework is going to vary by program and your chosen area of
concentration, you can expect to take some or all of these classes:

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Early Childhood Education Studies General overview of early childhood topics and an introduction to the field.
Instruction for Early Learners Learn how to integrate games, activities and other sensory tools into lessons to engage young children.
Differentiation Strategies for Special Education Students Overview of special education law and techniques teachers can use to help students with a wide range of disabilities have success in the classroom.
English Language Learning (ELL) Methods Examines ways to support ELL learners in the classroom.
Evaluation and Assessment Explores how to implement and analyze results of different assessment methods and strategies to improve teaching effectiveness.
Foundations of Reading and Writing Develop critical reading and writing skills in young children.
Teaching Methods (Across All Content Areas) Focus in single subject or multiple subject areas which includes math, social studies, science and reading and writing.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education?

Many online master’s programs in early childhood education lead to
teacher licensure in early childhood education, while other programs
focus on enhancing and improving the knowledge and skills of current
teachers. In general, the type of license or certification you apply for
will depend on the state you live in and its requirements for teaching
licenses. When applying, be prepared to supply appropriate transcripts
that certify your degree completion and any exam results.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education Degrees

While browsing for an online program to enroll in, be sure to make
sure you’re looking for an accredited early childhood education master’s
program. For a school to be accredited, it means the school has met
certain minimum standards outlined by industry groups, institutions or
government agencies. Accreditation is important for employment purposes,
as many schools, whether public or private, will only hire teachers
whose degrees and certifications were obtained at an accredited school.

School accreditation comes in regional or national forms. Regional
accreditation for an online master’s in early childhood education is
generally considered to be more prestigious, since educational standards
vary so widely by state.

Look for those certified by the Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation — these organizations act as oversight bodies and recognize legitimate accreditation agencies.

For early childhood development, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation are two of the most important accrediting bodies.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Early Childhood Education Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Across the board in the education field, students who earn a master’s
degree in their chosen subject area, whether in elementary, early
childhood, secondary or postsecondary, enjoy more favorable job
placement rates than students who earned a bachelor’s or associate’s
degree in the same field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
students who earned a master’s degree faced a 2.2 percent unemployment
rate, whereas students with a bachelor’s degree had a 2.5 percent
unemployment rate and associate’s degree holders had a 3.4 percent
unemployment rate.

Expected Salary

In addition to enjoying better job prospects, students who earn a master’s in early childhood education earn higher salaries than their peers who hold a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. Below is a chart of some median annual salaries for jobs obtained with a master’s in early childhood education.

The chart below further outlines how master’s degree holders earn more than their bachelor’s and associate’s counterparts, even with less work experience under their belt.

Career Opportunities

The career you pursue with your master’s in early childhood education
is going to depend on several factors, including your chosen area of
concentration, your preferred age group to teach and your overall career
goals. You should decide if you want to work in a private preschool,
day care, public or private elementary school or other child care
center.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers Teachers who work in kindergarten and elementary school classrooms (typically in grades K-2 with an early childhood education degree) help students build core skills in reading, writing, math and other content areas. They also help them build strong social skills as they teach students how to be kind, how to be a good friend and how to work together with other classmates. $56,900 per year 7%
Early Childhood Special Education Teachers Special education teachers for early childhood specialize in instructing and modifying curriculum for students with physical, emotional, behavioral and cognitive disabilities. Most special education teachers for this age group teach in a small private classroom at their school so they can instruct students in small groups. $58,980 per year 8%
Preschool Teachers Preschool teachers work in public school districts or private preschools and instruct children who have not yet entered kindergarten. They create lesson plans that cover core subjects such as reading, writing and math and integrate games, sensory activities, music and drama into their lessons to help make them more engaging for younger children. $43,000 per year 15%
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors These directors of preschools or childcare centers supervise and lead staff members, including teachers and teaching assistants, design overall program plans, oversee daily activities and often manage finances. $46,890 per year 6%

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations offer many opportunities for students
enrolled in master’s programs to foster connections among other
professionals in the field. These organizations also often provide
valuable resources, including teaching materials, lesson plan ideas,
webinars and other professional development opportunities to help
enhance your career. Below are some top organizations for those
obtaining a master’s degree in ECE.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC):
This organization offers a wide range of supportive services for early
childhood education teachers. Member benefits include access to
discounted books, teaching resources, complimentary magazines and
newsletters, and access to “members only” sections of the organization’s
website.

National Child Care Association (NCCA):
This organization advocates for things such as classroom equality, safe
learning environments and adequate funding for early childhood
education programs. NCCA’s website includes a discussion forum, a
resource library and links to webinars and continuing education
opportunities to help you earn professional development credits.

Association for Early Learning Leaders (AELL):
This nonprofit organization aims to assist childcare center directors
and administrators. AELL’s website provides a job board, online training
and webinar programs for earning professional development hours and
continuing education courses.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Early Childhood Education

While online degrees are often less expensive overall when compared
to taking classes on-campus, many students still require financial
assistance to help fund the cost of their coursework. For students
seeking financial aid, a logical first step is to fill out the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which provides you with
information about grants, scholarships and other financial aid options
available to you through the federal government. Private grants and
other scholarships are also widely available for early childhood
teachers, and oftentimes, individual schools and programs have their own
scholarships available, so be sure to investigate your particular
program for these opportunities in addition to the resources listed
below.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

Inspire Our Future Scholarship

Award: $2,500

Deadline: April

Offered to a postgraduate or undergraduate student pursuing a degree in education with at least a 3.5 GPA.

Bright Futures Scholarship for Early Childhood Teachers

Award: $250-$1,000

Deadline: June

Eligibility: Full-time enrollment in an accredited early childhood education degree program, nine months of experience working with age group, GPA of 3.0 or higher, accepted into a master’s program. A written personal essay is required with the application along with two recommendations.

Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program for Massachusetts Residents

Award: Varies depending on institution type

Deadline: June

Eligibility: Residents of Massachusetts and U.S. citizens who have filled out the FAFSA form and have enrolled in an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s early childhood education program, have been employed for at least one year at an early childhood center or school.

TEACH Grant

Award: $4,000

Deadline: October

Eligibility: TEACH grant recipients are eligible to receive up to $4000 annually to fund their master’s degree pursuit if they agree to teach for four years at a low-income school upon completion of their program.