Some people love kids. It’s really that simple. You’ll know who they are, too, because most are willing to talk about it anytime a child comes into the room.
If you are one of those people, then choosing to get a degree in early childhood education is a smart move. The world needs people like you.
The demand for those who want to work with children - and who have their best interests at heart - is growing along with the U.S. population. Federal projections call for a 10 percent increase in the number of preschool teachers by 2026 and a 7 percent increase for kindergarten and elementary school teachers over that same time period.
The need is there. Young kids are in one of the most important learning phases of their entire life. But do you have the right personality, attitude and mindset to work in early childhood education?
Before deciding to earn your degree in this all-important field, consider the following indications that it’s a likely a good career fit for you.
You love kids
As noted above, this is something that people seem to either have or they don’t. But those that do are fascinated by children, enjoying being around them and like teaching them new skills. It’s likely that those who have read this far into this article are one of those people.
You have great patience
For all the joy they can bring, kids also can be tough. Working with them requires learning to move at their pace, which can go fast (especially when you don’t want it to) or very slow (in learning some skills). Kids also develop at different speeds, so it’s important to understand that big amounts of patience will be required for many kids, especially those still getting used to being separated during the day from parents.
You don’t want to be rich
This needs to be said. Many enter careers with dollars signs in their eyes. Teachers, especially those who work in early childhood education, should know going in that the salaries they make will likely be less than peers in other professions.
Not that they are terrible. Much depends on where you live and the specific school district. It’s important to do research in your area to find out the pay. But here’s a place to start - the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median annual salary in May 2016 for preschool teachers of $28,790 and $55,490 for kindergarten and elementary school teachers.
You are an optimist
If you’ve been told all your life you are an upbeat, optimistic person, then working with kids is a good move. Kids feed off encouragement that gives them confidence and a positive self-image. You can’t help them in that area without guiding them with a positive outlook and a sunny disposition.
You want to make a difference
Like many careers that are also callings, working in early childhood education offers you the chance to make a significant, positive impact in a child’s life. Because so much science now shows the importance of experiences and learning when kids are young, working well with them can go a long way to helping them experience a positive childhood. They also learn skills - especially about how to learn - that they will carry the rest of their lives.
These are just five ways you know you’ll enjoy a career in early childhood education, but they’re all important. If you find yourself nodding in agreement, it’s likely a smart move to start checking out quality degree programs and set your feet on the path toward a career in this field.