The desire to spend working hours educating today’s young children is common, and many people enter into this line of work each year. Yet as popular as the career path is, this is a growing field with a variety of different work environments and job titles that can be pursued. One of the biggest factors that hold people back from pursuing a career in this field is the early childhood education salary. Often, there is a concern that this salary would not provide ample income for living comfortably. The fact is that early childhood salary can vary by a variety of different factors, and so a closer look is in order.
Early childhood educators are often lumped together in a category of their own, but in truth there are a variety of different and very unique positions that can be pursued. Each of these positions offers a different salary range.
• Kindergarten Teacher: A kindergarten teacher educates young children at the earliest level of elementary school. Professionals working in this job may earn on average about $33,000 per year as a starting salary, and may earn about $52,000 on average after about 15 years working in the field.
• Private Preschool Teacher: Professionals working in a private preschool setting work with kids around three to four years old to prepare them for the transition into kindergarten. These professionals may earn an early childhood education salary around $30,000 to $35,000 for a full time position.
• Curriculum Specialist: A curriculum specialist is a highly educated and experienced early childhood specialist who often has an early childhood education degree and several years of experience. This professional develops classroom curriculum as well as curriculum for childhood education online. The salary range for professionals in this line of work may range from $40,000 to $87,000.
• Preschool Administration: Preschool administration professionals are those who operate the business side of running a preschool, but they often work with children hands-on and develop curriculum, too. Professionals in this line of work earn on average about $51,000 per year.
Other Factors Affecting Early Childhood Education Salary
It is important to note that the above educator and teacher salary estimates are averages only, and in this field, there are some factors that can yield significant variations from those averages.
• Type of School: There are a variety of educational settings that can affect the salary of a professional working in these areas as well as others. Parochial schools often offer lower compensation with public and private schools paying higher levels in many areas.
• Education Level: Some early childhood education careers are available to those with a high school diploma while others require a four-year education degree or even a Master’s or Doctoral degree. Generally, the compensation of a position reflects the education level required. A higher salary demands more ECE courses taken and ECE units earned.
• Experience: Education is an industry that typically does offer higher compensation based on experience in most positions. For instance a starting teacher salary for kindergarten may be thousands of dollars less than a kindergarten teacher salary for a professional with 15 years of experience.
• Location of School: The location of the school will affect income as well. For instance, an average starting salary for a kindergarten teacher in Alaska is $28,000 while it is $67,000 in New York.
In many cases, a person’s initial early childhood education salary will reflect the lowest income of their career in this field. Most professionals find that their salary increases annually as they gain more experience. Further, many professionals will continue to pursue higher levels of education and certification during evenings or on the weekends while gaining experience in the field. Through gaining further education, many are able to pursue more advanced career opportunities over time. For instance, it is not uncommon for a professional to begin working as a preschool educator while working towards a teacher certification and moving into the role of a kindergarten teacher. Then with a more advanced degree and several years of experience working a kindergarten classroom, a professional may then pursue administration or curriculum development to further their career and increase their level of income.
Entering the Industry
Those who are interested in a career as an early childhood educator may be able to get their feet wet immediately, and even while earning their education degree. Many preschool and childcare settings offer hands-on opportunities working in the classroom with young children. This experience may prove beneficial later when applying for more advanced positions, and it may help to boost an educator’s early childhood education salary as a career progresses.