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What is Early Childhood Education?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the need for preschool teachers is going to increase by 10% through the year 2026. Nebraska is one of the states that are in need of teachers. They’re so in need they are creating salary packages that place them in the top five highest paying states for preschool teachers, with the Grand Island metropolitan area’s preschool teachers being the highest paid in the country. If you're interested in teaching preschool and early childhood education in the Cornhusker state, you could be on your way to a fulfilling and financially secure career.

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Steps to Become an Early Childhood Education Teacher in Nebraska

For those who enjoy working with young children, a career as an ECE preschool teacher is a promising option. ECE preschool teachers get to lay the educational groundwork for young students. To do this requires a special skill set, patience, and the desire to mold young minds. As an ECE teacher, you’ll be tasked with planning and executing learning activities, managing a classroom of young children, supervising aids and assistants, and monitoring the progress of the students. Assessing, identifying, and adapting to the specific needs of young learners is also a requirement.

The process to become an early childhood education preschool teacher in Nebraska is outlined below:

Step 1. Earn Your Degree

Those wishing to become a preschool teacher in Nebraska must attain a bachelor’s degree in education, preferably with the early childhood education specialization, from a state recognized college or university. Most schools require students to apply for admission into its education program after completing their second year of undergraduate study. If you are admitted into the school’s education department, it is then that you can select early childhood as your specialization and gain a certificate to teach in Nebraska. Candidates must also receive an endorsement in either early childhood education, unified early childhood education, preschool disabilities, or early childhood special education.

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Step 2. Pass Your Exams

Once students have completed all required degree coursework, they are required to sit for the Praxis I examination (Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading, Writing, and Mathematics) to test their core competency skills. Early Childhood Education is also considered a subject, so students who earned a degree in ECE must take and pass the Praxis II to demonstrate understanding in their particular field of education.

Step 3. Human Relations and Special Education Training

Nebraska has a couple specific requirements for their teachers. These include a course in Human Relations and one in Special Education. You must complete these courses in order to attain a teaching certification in Nebraska. If the course was taken during the course of your degree program, then this requirement will be considered fulfilled. Otherwise, the course must be taken separately.

Step 4. Apply for Certification

Anyone who wants to teach in Nebraska that has not been a resident of the state for the previous five years must submit either LiveScan or ink fingerprint cards. LiveScan is available at all Nebraska State Patrol locations by appointment. There are also other locations throughout the state including several County Sheriff’s departments. If a student prefers to submit fingerprint cards, the kit can be requested from the Nebraska Department of Education after the application for a certificate has been submitted and the application fee has been paid.

Once all of these steps have been completed, candidates can submit their entire application package to the Nebraska Department of Education with the required fee:

  • $40 for non-public school certificate
  • $90 for non-public school certificate plus fingerprint cards
  • $55 for all school certificate
  • $105 for all school certificate plus fingerprint cards

Non-public schools are childcare agencies which offer preschool programs and private schools that aren’t part of the Nebraska school districts. An ‘All-School Certificate’ permits candidates to teach at both public and non-public schools and entities.

Step 5. Maintain and Upgrade Licensure

After holding an initial teaching certificate for 2 years, you can upgrade to the Standard Teaching License. You’ll need to verify your employment experience and fill out the application. You can also attain a higher level license in Nebraska, but you will need to have either a master’s degree, National Board Certification, or a specialist’s certificate and verify 2 years’ experience within the last 5 years.

Popular Career Choices:

  • Preschool Teacher
  • Kindergarten Teacher
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • Special Education Teacher

Nebraska Teaching Certificates

ECE teachers in Nebraska can be awarded either a Regular certificate or a temporary certificate.

  • Those who have met all the qualifications set forth by the state for certification receive a regular certificate.
  • Those who have met all the requirement except for the human relations or special education course receive a temporary certificate. Once they have completed the course and submitted a transcript as proof, the temporary certificate will be replaced with a regular certificate.

Nebraska Teaching Permits

For those who want to teach young children in Nebraska but lack more than one core requirement, teaching permits can allow these people to pursue a teaching career while working toward certification. For ECE teachers, the Military, Provisional, and Transitional teaching permits are available.

Military Teaching Permit
Members of the military and their spouses who want to teach in Nebraska can get a five-year permit. To qualify, candidates must submit the following:

  • Transcripts showing a bachelor’s degree in the area where they want to teach, in this case in early childhood education
  • Verification of prior teaching experience
  • Completion of the Human Relations course requirement
  • A signed statement of current military service from a military supervisor (if applicable)
  • A letter from the school district verifying an offer of employment
  • Proof of residence or submission of either LiveScan fingerprint cards or two ink rolled fingerprint cards.

Provisional Teaching Permit
If a person wants to teach ECE in Nebraska but is missing certain elements to attain the certification, a provisional teaching permit can be issued. The permit lasts for two years and is non-renewable. Candidates for provisional permits are usually missing one or more of the following:

  • Praxis I and II examination scores
  • Special Education Training
  • Do not meet the recency requirement

Once the candidate has met all the requirements, they can apply for a teaching certificate.

Transitional Teaching Permit
A transitional teaching permit allows those who have non-education degrees to teach while working to attain state certification. The program is offered through the University of Nebraska at Kearney and is available online. To qualify candidates must:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree, 75% of which must be early childhood related.
  • Submit a transcript review request through the Transitional Certification Program.
  • Complete three professional education graduate courses and six graduate credit hours of student teaching. The student teaching credits can be earned while teaching.
  • Follow a transition plan created by a UNK program that leads to certification within three years teaching.
  • Complete six credits of continuing education annually to qualify for renewal.

Top Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs in Nebraska

Choosing the right school to suit your needs can be daunting, especially when you are seeking a specific degree such as Early Childhood Education. Nebraska has several colleges and universities that offer this program as well as the required Human Relations and Special Education program courses needed to attain the teaching certificate. When selecting a school, you’ll want to ensure it is accredited by an accreditation board the state of Nebraska and the US Department of Education recognizes. If you get a degree from a non-accredited school, you will not be permitted to apply for your certificate to teach.

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Colleges and Universities Offering Early Childhood Education Programs

  • University of Nebraska - Lincoln
    • Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education - Unified
    • Bachelor’s with Elementary Education (K-6)
    • Bachelor's in Early Care and Education Birth - Kindergarten

    Accreditation By:

    • The Higher Learning Commission
    • The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
  • Wayne State College
    • Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education - Unified
    • Bachelor’s with Elementary Education / Early Childhood Education Endorsement

    Accreditation By:

    • The Higher Learning Commission
    • The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
  • College of Saint Mary
    • Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education - Unified
    • Bachelor’s with Elementary Education / Early Childhood Education Endorsement

    Accreditation By:

    • The Higher Learning Commission
  • Chadron State College
    • Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education - Unified
    • Bachelor’s with Elementary Education / Early Childhood Education Endorsement

    Accreditation By:

    • The Higher Learning Commission
    • The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
  • University of Nebraska - Kearney
    • Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education
    • Offers the Transitional Teaching Permit Online Program

    Accreditation By:

    • The Higher Learning Commission
    • The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation

Potential Careers and Salaries for Graduates

Teaching children in Nebraska can happen in a variety of settings. Some of the places where early childhood education occurs include:

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  • Public Schools
    This is the most common setting as all school districts offer preschool and kindergarten programs for children between the ages of three and five.
  • Private Childcare
    Some parents might want to provide an early childhood education for their children but might not feel comfortable putting their children in a public-school setting. With an early childhood education certification, you can provide private childcare and the education element parents are seeking.
  • Private Schools
    Schools which offer a religious or non-traditional educational environment still need teachers who are state-qualified to teach their students.
  • Head Start Programs
    A preschool program for low-income families, early childhood educators will teach students and get them ready to start school.
  • Community-Based Programs
    Before- and after-school programs, childcare centers, preschools, and other community outreach programs need certified teachers to help with children of all ages.
  • Faith-Based Programs
    Preschools and childcare programs run by churches and religious centers hire certified teachers to teach and run educational programs at their centers.
  • Military Programs
    On-base military schools use state-certified teachers to teach the children of their servicemen and servicewomen.

Early Childhood Education Median Teaching Salaries in Nebraska

Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Preschool Teacher $28,500 $29,100 $34,200
Elementary School Teacher $35,200 $44,300 $53,500
Professor of Education $60,200 $73,400 $100,000
Special Education Teacher $35,200 $46,300 $49,500

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