The field of early childhood education (ECE) is not limited to classroom teaching or childcare. Opportunities abound for advancement and development for any ECE professional. While some may question the need for professional development, it is essential that ECE professionals always strive to grow and learn whenever possible.
The ECE industry is constantly changing. Educators need to keep up with industry best practices and new standardizations. Early childhood professionals need to stay on top of any trends or research in child development. Doing so equips them with more tools and skills to better educate and care for children.
So whether you are looking to begin your career, or you’re a seasoned professional looking to hone your skills to become a leader, we’ve gathered some of the best ways to advance your career, gain new knowledge and explore the world of early childhood education.
Tips for advancing as an ECE professional
1. Attend conferences
Conferences provide an opportunity for ECE professionals to not only learn about trending topics in the industry, but also to network with others. With conferences and workshops all around the country, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one to match your interests, schedule and location.
2. Earn credentials
Credentials and certificates show proof to employers that you are a trained and experienced early childhood professional. They can help give you a boost in the field. One worthwhile option for beginners is the Child Development Associate® (CDA) credential. The CDA credential is perfect for anyone who would like to turn their experience and passion into a career. Check out this article to learn more about the details and benefits of the CDA credential. If you’re interested in additional advanced credentials, the Department of Education breaks these down by state, as each has its own unique offering of credentials and licensures.
3. Further your education
You don’t need an advanced degree to start your career in early childhood education, but more education typically leads to more opportunities along this education pathway. If you begin by earning your CDA credential, you will be recognized and qualified for more job opportunities than those without it. With an ECE certificate, you can become a teacher’s aide or assistant teacher, and from there, the opportunities continue to grow. An associate’s degree in ECE can qualify you for teaching positions, and a bachelor’s degree can open the door to more advanced job opportunities, such as a program coordinator or center director.
4. Seek higher positions
Teaching may be your passion, but if you aspire to hold a position with more leadership responsibilities, there are a variety of positions teachers can transition to, including: Early childhood directors, education coordinators, curriculum designers, ECE professors, licensing specialists and more. All of these positions will contribute to early childhood education in some form. Learning which aligns best with your professional goals and interests is a great way to begin planning for the future.
5. Open an early childhood center
If you have been working as an early educator in a childcare center, you might consider taking the next step and opening your own center. While rules vary state-to-state on education requirements, early childhood center owners typically have some form of postsecondary education in child development and/or early childhood education. By owning your own center, you are taking responsibility for the education and development of several children. You will have your hands full, but there is nothing more rewarding than knowing you are making a difference in children’s lives.
Take control of your career
Ateacher’s education is never finished. If you strive to be the best teacher you can be, you will need to be actively pursuing your own education and opportunities for growth. Staying up-to-date on the latest industry news, developments and best practices will ensure that you are providing the best care for your students.
So whether you obtain certifications, participate in workshops or work toward a higher position, there are numerous opportunities for you to advance your current ECE skills. And with all these opportunities, you can design your career to fit your personal and professional preferences, all while providing the best care for your students and their families.
Learn more about some of the top early childhood education positions at all levels so you can start laying out your ideal career path.