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What is Early Childhood Education?

Teaching is one of the noblest professions that you will ever get into. Nurturing kids and helping them learn and grow can be really fun. Of course, there will be challenges because all kids are not the same. But if you love children and want to spend as much time as possible with them, you might consider becoming a preschool teacher. Kentucky has ample opportunities for those who want to become a preschool teacher, as there are many new schools that have opened up in the last few years. Preschools are open for children starting from the age of three. Additionally, you’ll be happy to know that, according to recent reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in Kentucky you’ll receive the tenth highest salary for preschool teachers. That is something that should definitely attract the attention of an enthusiastic candidate.

In addition to becoming a preschool teacher or child care provider, an early childhood education degree can also lead to becoming a nanny. Children learn and grow best in a safe and nurturing environment, which is the most important task an early childhood educator can accomplish. By providing students with the tools they need to succeed in school and in life, early childhood education teachers help students succeed. In addition to teaching reading and writing, they also teach math to young children. As well as helping students develop social skills, early childhood educators help them learn how to cooperate and share.

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Steps to Become an Early Childhood Education Teacher in Kentucky

As mentioned earlier, Kentucky has numerous opportunities for budding preschool teachers. But if you are not aware of the steps on how to become a preschool teacher, please keep reading. Becoming a preschool teacher involves a four-fold program where you have to first complete a degree and also an educator preparation program, pass all the required exams to get a preschool teacher certification in Kentucky, file an application for a Kentucky teaching certificate, and upgrade and maintain the Kentucky teaching certificate.

Step 1. Get Your Degree

The first step to become a preschool teacher in Kentucky is to get certified in interdisciplinary early childhood education. For this, you will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and also an approved teacher preparation program. Most approved bachelor’s degrees that prepare you to be a teacher also allow you to complete your educator preparation program at the same time, with the same classes you count toward your credits. Apart from that, you’ll also need to maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 for the last 60 hours of coursework you’ve completed, either graduate or undergraduate courses; or have a cumulative GPA of 2.5

Part of your student teacher prep program will be your field experience, sometimes called student teaching (70 full days of teaching in front of an actual classroom). An already licensed teacher will be there to supervise and mentor you through this teaching experience and will report on your performance as if it were any other class. Outside of these 70 days, there will be another 200 hours of field experiences.

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Some of the experiences may include:

  • Tutoring
  • Assisting other teachers or professionals in the school
  • Attending meetings
  • Interacting with the families of students
  • Participating in the teacher-community of the school

One of the best things about the student teaching part is that you will be placed around students who are of the age group you plan to teach. This will help you to complete your wide range of teaching duties like demonstrating classroom skills, creating lesson plans, and co-teaching.

Another point that you have to keep in mind is that the teacher preparation program that you must apply for certification within 5 years of completing your teacher preparation program or meet other course requirements within that time. This is to ensure that your degree is up-to-date with the newest technology and methodology when you are certified to be a teacher.

Step 2. Pass Required Exams

Every person who wants to be a preschool teacher in Kentucky has to pass the PRAXIS I basic skills exam if they are to be accepted in a teacher preparation program. Some of the exams that you will have to appear for are: Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing, Reading, and Mathematics (with scores of 162, 156, and 150 respectively).

The PRAXIS II examinations for the area in which you choose to be certified will also be required. The exams you’ll have to pass for this include: Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood and Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (scoring 160 and166).

Step 3. Apply for Your Teaching Certificate

This is one of the most important steps of your teaching career. You have done all the hard work until now and your cooperating teacher and the university supervisor have approved your student teaching and field experiences, you have passed all the required examinations with the desired scores, and now it is time to apply for the teaching certificate. You will have to apply to the Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education. There will be a TC-1 Application form for you to fill out in detail. Make sure you read everything carefully, as you don’t want to forget anything and delay your certification.

Step 4. Maintain Your Teaching Certificate

First of all, a big congratulation because you have finally crossed all the hurdles and become a preschool teacher in Kentucky. Once you have the degree, it is a simple procedure to renew it every five years to make sure that it stays current. However, the first year you have your teaching certification after finishing your degree and exams, you need to make sure that you also complete the state internship program. You’ll be directed to complete the program when you are licensed, but it is up to you to make sure you follow through. This program is designed to track the progress of every teacher and it will help you to get familiarized with the teaching in Kentucky. Consider it your last step to a full teaching certificate.

Then, every five years you need only complete the minimum requirements and you will be set to renew whenever you need to. The minimum requirements require you to have been actively teaching 3 of the 5 years you held your licensure. You may also use 6 semester hours of college credit or 15 hours of graduate credit to cover this requirement.

Popular Career Choices
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Kindergarten Teacher
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • Special Education Teacher

Top Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs in Kentucky

The higher education in Kentucky is regulated by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Here are some colleges accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educators (CAEP).

Five Leading Kentucky Early Childhood Education Programs

  • University of Louisville
    Degrees Offered:
    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; MS. & Dr.
    • Curriculum and Instruction; Dr.
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; MS.
    • Education and Teaching of Individuals with Autism; Post-grad Certificate
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Reading Teacher Education; MS.
    • Special Education and Teaching; MS.

    Accreditation By: Regional accreditation from Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Programmatic accreditation by CAEP.

  • Eastern Kentucky University
    Degrees Offered:
    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; MS.
    • Curriculum and Instruction; MS.
    • Teaching of Individuals in Early Childhood Special Education Programs; BS. & MS.
    • Teaching of Individuals with Hearing Impairments Including Deafness; BS.
    • Teaching of the Gifted and Talented; MS.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Reading Teacher Education; MS.
    • Special Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.

    Accreditation By: Regional accreditation from Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Programmatic accreditation by CAEP.

  • Murray State University
    Degrees Offered:
    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; MS.
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Educational Administration and Supervision; Dr.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Reading Teacher Education; MS.
    • Special Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.

    Accreditation By: Regional accreditation from Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Programmatic accreditation by CAEP.

  • Thomas More College
    Degrees Offered:
    • Curriculum and Instruction; MS.
    • Education, Other; BS.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS.

    Accreditation By: Regional accreditation from Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Programmatic accreditation by CAEP.

Potential Careers and Salaries for Graduates

As someone who has an updated teaching certificate, you will get a lot of opportunities to make use of your skills. Some of the common preschool teaching career options are head-start programs, private schools, military programs, private childcare, public schools, faith-based programs, and community-based programs.

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If you are wondering whether a preschool teacher is paid the highest among all the other teaching roles in Kentucky, then the following guide will help to understand the difference in salaries according to the occupation and career level of a candidate.

  • The average salary of an entry-level preschool teacher is somewhere around $19,500 depending on the location of the school. That salary can go up to about $27,000 after a few years, but if you are an experienced preschool teacher you can expect to earn around $40,000 a year.
  • The average salary of an elementary school teacher averages around $30,500 for an entry-level position. However, the qualifications and requirements are different for an elementary position as compared to preschool. This figure can go up to $44,000 during the middle of the teacher’s career. But, once you are experienced enough, you can earn around $69,000.
  • The salary of a Professor of Education is quite good. You start with a salary of around $50,000 as a novice. As you gradually earn some experience, your pay will start to increase, and you can expect to earn $70,000 to $80,000 after 4 or 5 years. Experienced teachers in this category can earn as much as $160,000 per year if they are a Professor of Education. Again, the qualifications will be different (a master’s is the entry-level degree), and the exams are tougher to pass. So, keep that in mind too.
  • Becoming a school principal is a dream for many. If you manage to become a school principal of an elementary school in Kentucky, you can expect to get a yearly salary of at least $51,000. This will increase as you become experienced and you can finally earn $115,500 as an experienced principal of an elementary school. On the other hand, if you want to become a principal of a high school, you can expect to get a salary of $53,000 as a beginner and $130,000 as an experienced candidate.
  • A special education teacher gets an average salary of $27,000 in an entry-level position. The salary will be increased to around $44-46,000 during the middle of the teacher’s career and it can go up to $68,000 when you gain enough experience.
  • Those who want to teach English as a second language get a starting salary of around $25,500 in Kentucky. Depending on their experience, it can increase to around $42,000 but when you are highly experienced, you can ask for up to $69,000 a year.
  • The average salary of a school psychologist during the initial year is about $44,000. According to the teaching salary breakdown in Kentucky, a mid-career candidate can earn around $65-68,000 but an experienced candidate can earn as much as $95,000.


Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Preschool Teacher $23,000 $25,400 $28,600
Elementary School Teacher $35,000 $49,700 $50,300
Professor of Education $54,500 $58,400 $115,800
Elementary School Principal $83,000 $105,000 (Median) $127,100
Special Education Teacher $39,800 $44,300 $50,400

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