What is an Early Childhood Administrator?
The demand for educational administrators and teachers is higher than ever. So, whether you’re looking to start your career or switch over into the field, you can find here all you need to know about early childhood administration degrees in Alabama.
In general, the educational administration career field can encompass oversight and planning in schools or any educational settings for that matter, including daycare centers. Educational administrators are usually part of the top management of an academic system, such as the school’s head principal, vice-principal, college dean, admission/program director, superintendent, and more.
Early childhood education (ECE) is technically defined as the time frame of learning for children from birth to age eight. Most early childhood administrators (ECA) and educators who specialize in ECE will teach students in preschools and elementary or primary schools, though some can work beyond the classrooms, such as in federal- or state-funded programs and daycare centers, and possibly also with young children who have special needs.
Alabama has one of the highest quality education systems in the U.S., especially in regard to its early childhood programs. The state’s Department of Early Childhood Education has an increasing budget yearly, resulting in significant projects like First Class, which aims to promote long-term educational success and growth statewide.
Furthermore, Times Daily reported in 2016 that the year’s new school semester had increased to around 2,900 preschool students due to dedicated funding. In 2018 alone, nearly $100 million was invested into improving educational programs and teacher salaries in Alabama.
Additionally, all of this has resulted in scholarship opportunities for prospective educators to gain a more affordable access to a degree in ECE, such as with the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood ALABAMA and Alabama Pathways. Not to mention, new and improved state requirements have risen to those hoping to become licensed as an early childhood worker.
Early Childhood Administration Education in Alabama
For prospective educators, a degree in ECE can lead to a variety of job opportunities to teach and design critical curriculum that enhances the development of young children. Here are the degree types available, along with how far each will let you get in the field.
Associate Degree in Early Childhood Administration (AS)
With an associate-level degree in ECA, you can work several entry-level childcare positions, some of which are:
- Substitute Teacher
- Daycare Teacher
- Preschool Teacher
- Preschool Teacher’s Assistant (TA)
- After-school Manager/Director/Teacher
- (Early) Head Start Teacher
Suppose you enroll in the associate program as a full-time student. In that case, you can complete the degree within two-years’ time and obtain the necessary foundational knowledge to supervise, care for, and teach children ages 0 to around 10. This associate degree route also paves the way for many students to continue on toward a Baccalaureate degree in ECA, including the option to license through a PreK-3 provider.
Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Administration (BS)
In Alabama, most public schools require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to qualify as a preschool teacher or administrator. As such, those with a bachelor’s in ECA are commonly found to work the following roles:
- Preschool teacher
- Preschool director
- Childcare service worker
- Childcare program director
- After-school program assistant
- Special education teacher
- Self-employed worker
- Intervention Specialist
A bachelor-level education in early childhood teaching usually takes up to four years to complete and may further land you in state-funded children’s programs, private preschool settings, and primary or secondary schools. Most required coursework for such a bachelor program revolves around the theories behind teaching young children, dealing with instructional technology, and honing your knowledge of childhood psychology and development.
Master's Degree in Early Childhood Administration (MS or MC)
In combination with relevant work experiences, those with a master’s in ECA are more likely to qualify for the following advanced childcare positions:
- Corporate trainer
- Curriculum specialist/designer
- ECE specialist
- Preschool program director
- Special education teacher
- Preschool principal
- Childcare specialists
- Elementary school teacher
- Daycare center director
- Head start director
- School counselor or psychologist
Furthermore, these following childcare positions require both a bachelor’s and master’s in studies related to ECA:
- Reading Specialist: As one who specializes in helping children who struggle to develop literacy skills at an early age, you can help guide them and assist classroom teachers with their daily lesson plans to ensure that they strengthen the literacy skills of all students.
- Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA): For the most part, in this position, you’ll be dealing with observable data that has been collected from working with young children exhibiting behavioral challenges. BCBAs also coach and educate teachers to parents and caregivers about behavioral management.
PhD Degree in Early Childhood Administration (PhD)
A doctorate or Ph.D. in early childhood education is the most advanced education level to achieve in the ECE field. As such, it can help prepare graduates for opportunities both inside and outside the classroom.
With such high-level expertise in understanding children, most with an ECE doctorate go on to pursue jobs in educational research and serving in top management for educational programs. Some even can go into being a speech and language therapist, community development worker, children’s nurse, child psychotherapist, curriculum development, or legislation or policy making. However, a doctorate graduate can still work with young children in the classroom.
While a doctorate in ECE is undoubtedly not necessary to succeed as an early childhood administrator, it will likely make you stand out as a candidate for the management position and possibly create a higher salary range for you.
Become an Early Childhood Administrator in Alabama
For those who studied early childhood administration, the most popular fields that your degree might be useful in are education, health, and social work. There are also two main pathways to become licensed as an early childhood educator or administrator in Alabama - enrolling in a state-verified program for education administration or through the Alabama Teacher Reciprocity agreements.
With the first avenue being the most common, there are certain guidelines set by the Office of School Readiness (OSR), which is under the state’s Department of Early Childhood Education. The general terms include:
Meet the Minimum Requirements for Lead/Auxiliary Teachers
Whether you wish to become a Lead Teacher or Auxiliary Teacher, you must first fulfill the minimum requirements to teach children in Alabama. To become a Lead Teacher requires you to be over 21 years of age, carry relevant work training, and at least a special certification in ECE (P-3 certification) or a bachelor’s in the field. In contrast, Auxiliary Teachers can be at least 18 years old and hold one of the following:
- A high school diploma or GED
- A Child Development Associate Credential (CDA)
- Obtain a minimum of 9 credit hours of university coursework ECE from a state-accredited school along with, at least a year of work experience in the field or other OSR-accepted places
Required Background Checks
The OSR further mandates that all preschool educators obtain the appropriate background checks through both the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) and FBI. Plus, along with a Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN) background review and fingerprinting test.
State Licensing (If Required)
For those on the path to teaching preschoolers as a lead instructor in one of Alabama’s public schools, you must obtain a state license through the Alabama Department of Education.
To also achieve the early care educator license, a combination of either an undergrad or graduate degree in ECA, or a related field, and a certificate of completion from one of the state’s educator preparation programs (EPP) will likely help you even more.
Moreover, in Alabama, there are several class categories to consider when working towards a license through an approved EPP:
- Class B (Bachelor’s degree) Program:
For those who do not already have a bachelor’s in ECE, this program combines both the related undergrad degree and a qualified EPP.
- Class A (Master’s degree) Program:
For those who already have a bachelor’s from a state-accredited school but without a state-accredited EPP as this program considers the elements of EPP and the components of a master’s degree.
- Class AA (or Alternative Class A) Program:
For those who have obtained both a bachelor’s and master’s related to ECE and from a state-accredited school. However, this stricter program requires you to meet specific grades, GPA scores, courses, and more.
- Class B (Bachelor’s degree) Program:
Take the Appropriate PRAXIS Examinations
After completing a state approved educator prep program, the Alabama Board Of Education mandates that you take and pass the appropriate PRAXIS assessments. For preschool administrators, they include the Teaching Reading 5204 and Early Childhood Content Knowledge 5025.
Required Professional Training
As part of the requirements of Alabama’s First Class programs, and as required by the OSR, all preschool lead teachers must obtain at least 30 hours of professional training yearly. Among those 30 hours, 15 hours can be OSR-endorsed, and another half can be through local state programs. For Auxiliary preschool administrators, you must have at least 20 hours of work training yearly, and half of which can be OSR-endorsed and another 10 hours from state programs.
Top College Programs in Alabama for Early Childhood Administration
Below are some of the best college programs in Alabama that focus on early childhood administration including public universities, online programs, and local colleges.
- The University of Alabama at Birmingham:
If you have a preference for an urban location while learning at one of the state’s high-quality universities, UAB provides students with four-degree programs in early childhood education plans and teaching. It’s a relatively large public college in a medium-sized city.
- The University of Alabama:
With two degree programs in early childhood education and teaching, this popular university is also quite large as a public school. Yet, located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, you can expect a small-city feel.
- Auburn University:
With only one degree option in early childhood education and teaching, you can still obtain quality knowledge and resources at Auburn University. It’s located in Auburn, Alabama, which is another relatively small town. Yet, the school itself is one of the state’s most prominent colleges.
- University of South Alabama:
With two degree offerings in early childhood education and teaching, this school is another relatively large institution in a mid-sized city (Mobile, AL). Most of those who graduated in ECE here are at the bachelor’s level, thus proving the standard four-year degree is quite common to work in ECE.
- Alabama State University:
With two degree plans for early childhood education and teaching, ASU is a mid-sized campus in Montgomery, Alabama. As its name indicates, the school is recognized as a state university and has been around since the 1800s.
Careers for Early Childhood Administrator Graduates
With the passion as well as the proper training/certification and degree in ECA, you may find yourself in one of the field’s popular career positions below. Note that these are just job descriptions of each title, not a complete guide.
- Childcare Worker:
These workers provide care for infants and toddlers, such as managing their schedules and routines and grooming and feeding, changing diapers, and cleaning after them. At the same time, childcare workers teach the children basic communication skills and manners.
- Childcare Facility Director:
Also known as Daycare Directors, these EC administrators manage a daycare facility’s daily operations. They also oversee curricula plans, manage or hire new teachers, mitigate issues with parents, and are an overall brand ambassador for the center.
- Preschool Administrator:
As the head of the preschool, this position primarily requires the planning and development of educational policies, making sure they adhere to state laws. Such preschool managers also recruit, train, lead, and support other teachers or staff members.
- Preschool Vice Principal & Principal:
Pre-K-3 principals oversee the planning and management of academic and non-academic activities. Simultaneously, the vice-principals help the head principal by working closely with top management and all teaching faculties. Both also communicate with parents regarding their child’s behavior.
- Elementary School Administrator:
In this position, you would oversee the daily activities at an elementary or secondary school, either private or public. They also help create educational resources for the classroom and lead the school staff members in meetings over developing different programs. While they surely supervise students, they also check in with teachers on their progress.
- Elementary School Vice Principal & Principal:
Just like the preschool principal and vice-principal, an elementary-school principal and vice-principal both oversee their school’s policies. They also manage the development of both students and staff members.
- Preschool Teacher:
Compared to other roles in this list, preschool teachers work more closely with young children to teach them on various subject matters through the power of storytelling, digital media, educational play, and so on. They also develop their daily lesson plans that adhere to specific guidelines set by the school management.
Ready to take on the educational world and change the lives of hundreds of young children? Start your journey today into helping improve children’s life quality to impact the outcomes of early access to education.
Education Degrees & Career Paths