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What is Early Childhood Education?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for early childhood educators is going in increase between 2016 and 2026. This is partially because of the stronger emphasis on early education for children. Another reason is that the number of children expected to be born during that period of time is expected to remain the same or slightly increase. Taking both of these factors into account, becoming an early childhood or preschool teacher is a strong career option. For Oklahoma residents considering following this path, there is also good news. Demand for ECE and preschool teachers is anticipated to match with the national statistics and, in regard to income, surpass the national average. The median income for an early childhood education teacher with a few years’ experience is $29,000 in the United States, but for Oklahoma, it’s $33,600.

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Steps to Become an Early Childhood Education Teacher in Oklahoma

Oklahoma follows the national guidelines for becoming a teacher but also has its own state requirements as well. We have detailed the requirements for becoming an early childhood teacher in Oklahoma, as well as the certification process required to teach in the Sooner State.

The state of Oklahoma has a teacher shortage across the board, but those who are skilled at teaching at the elementary school level and below are especially in demand. With the growing population, teacher attrition and other economic factors, those who want to work with the youngest students will continue to be in high demand for some time. Whether you want to work in a public school, for a private educator, or help low-income children get a head start, there is a teaching position waiting for you.

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Step 1. Earn Your Degree

In some cases you can teach with an associate’s degree. However, in order to attain a teaching certification, a bachelor’s degree with an early childhood specialization from an accredited school and a state-approved teaching program is required. You want to ensure that the school holds regional accreditation, and the program is accredited through a recognized organization such as the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Step 2. Complete A OEQA-Approved Teacher Education Program

The Office of Educational Quality and Accountability has many requirements that teaching candidates must meet in order to obtain certification and licensure once they complete their education. While these are generally well covered in a state-approved program, it’s good to know what you’re getting into ahead of time.

Here are some of the requirements you can expect to encounter:

  • You must have an early childhood education or related degree. If you wish to teach elementary classes, you’ll need to major in a specific subject area.
  • You’ll need coursework or training in classroom management, safety and discipline, and technologies; identifying and preventing substance abuse, identifying mental health symptoms and issues; and research-based instruction, assessment, and intervention for literacy development.
  • You’ll also need to have plenty of field experience, also called student teaching. This will include 60 hours of various experiences prior to full-time student teaching, a minimum of 12 weeks of full-time student teaching, and may include other practicum experiences for those completing an advanced program such as a master’s or doctoral degree.

Step 3. Pass Your Exams

Unlike many states, Oklahoma has created its own unique certification tests, which are similar to the national PRAXIS exams while meeting specific parameters necessary for OEQA certification and licensure. These exams are the OGET, OSAT, and the OPTE.

The Oklahoma General Education Test (OGET) focuses on critical thinking and the basics of educational knowledge. The Oklahoma Subject Area Tests (OSAT) focus on specific subjects, specifically for teachers who will lead elementary level classes and up. Oklahoma’s Professional Teaching Exam (OPTE) tests for professional teaching knowledge and skills.

Step 4. Criminal Background Checks

Teacher candidates in Oklahoma have to pass a background check conducted by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the state and federal level. The reports must be on file with the Oklahoma State Board of Education at the time of certification application.

Step 5. Apply for Teacher Certification

Once you’ve completed your degree, passed your state exams, and filed your background check, you are ready to get your certification. This requires you to fill out an application, submit various documents, and send the education board an application fee.

Here are the details of what is required:

  • Submit official transcripts from all schools attended
  • Submit proof of passing scores on necessary exams
  • Submit the application along with the appropriate fee

Popular Career Choices

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

Top Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs in Oklahoma

If you have a degree from a school outside of the state of Oklahoma, you’ll have to submit your transcripts and any required test results to the Oklahoma State Board of Education for review. For those who hold teaching certification from another state, you will be granted a provisional certificate until it is determined what steps you will need to take to attain a permanent certificate.

For those who do not hold a degree in education but have worked in the early childhood sector for five years or more, you can apply for certification by submitting the application as well as verification from the organization where you have worked.

Find Online Early Childhood Education Schools

There are many colleges and universities in Oklahoma that offer early childhood education degree programs. Several offer an ECE program at the bachelor level, while other schools offer a general education degree and allow students to choose their desired specialization, such as early childhood or special education. Both private and public schools are available, and for those who want to pursue an education beyond a bachelor’s degree, master and doctorate programs are also available. The schools listed below offer both ECE and General Education programs that are recognized by the state of Oklahoma, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and the National Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

  • Oklahoma City University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Curriculum and Instruction; Master’s
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s & Master’s
    • Education/Teaching of the Gifted and Talented; Master’s
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s & Master’s
    • Reading Teacher Education; Bachelor’s
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • ESL Teaching; Master’s

    Accreditation By:

    • HLC
  • Oklahoma State University

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; Master’s
    • Curriculum and Instruction; Master’s
    • General Education; Bachelor’s, Master’s, Dr., & Post-grad Certification
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • ESL Teacher; Post-grad Certification

    Accreditation By:

    • HLC
  • Oral Roberts University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s & Master’s
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Specific Learning Disabilities; Dr.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • Reading Teacher Education; Master’s
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • Speech Teacher Education; Bachelor’s
    • ESL Teaching; Bachelor’s & Master’s

    Accreditation By:

    • HLC
  • Southern Nazarene University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Curriculum and Instruction; Master’s
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s

    Accreditation By:

    • HLC
  • University of Tulsa

    Degrees Offered:

    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Hearing Impairments Including Deafness; Bachelor’s
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Mental Retardation; Bachelor’s & Master’s
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s

    Accreditation By:

    • HLC

Potential Careers and Salaries for Graduates

As an early childhood education teacher in Oklahoma, there are plenty of option and opportunities for you to assist with the molding of the youngest of minds.

  • Public schools An increasing number of public-school districts are incorporating preschool into the schools. So instead of heading to the neighborhood elementary school for Kindergarten, kids are starting their academic careers at the elementary school as young as two. These schools need certified teachers to educate and facilitate these classrooms.
  • Private childcare For parents who want their kids to attain an early childhood education, but don’t want to enroll their children in a traditional school setting, hiring teachers to do private childcare is an option. If you’re interested in being part daycare provider, part teacher, this is an option. You’ll need the same certifications that a teacher in a traditional school setting requires, but you’ll have the latitude of creating your own curriculum and setting the stage for your classroom.
  • Search Programs Offering Early Childhood Education Majors

  • Private schools Just like public schools, teachers in private schools have to meet the requirements for the state of Oklahoma. In a private school setting you could have more flexibility with curriculum and teaching styles, so if you’re looking for a career that allows you to teach in a classroom more creativity, this could be the right path for you.
  • Head Start programs Head Start is a preschool program for low-income children. The curriculum is similar to what you would find in a traditional preschool program, but various additional family services are also sometimes offered. If you’re looking for a teaching position that is part education, part social work this could be the ideal position for you.
  • Community-based programs The community daycare center, before- and after-care programs and other organizations that offer a classroom setting for preschool children need licensed teachers to run their programs.
  • Faith-based programs Churches sometimes offer preschool programs for their parishioners and others in the neighborhood. If they offer a school program, using certified teachers adds to their credibility and usefulness in the community. If you want to teach in an environment that also offers spiritual education, these positions are ideal for you.
  • Military programs Military bases need teachers for the children of their military members. This position may allow you to be based outside the US, as military bases all over the world need English-speaking, US trained teachers to teach their students.

Early Childhood Education Teaching Salaries in Oklahoma

Salaries for early childhood education teachers in Oklahoma are above the national average. The salaries also vary depending on the part of the state. Teachers in the Oklahoma City area make a median of $36,000 after several years of experience, while teachers in other parts of the state, such as the southern portion, make closer to $31,000.

Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Preschool Teacher $28,200 $28,800 $34,200
Special Education Teacher $39,800 $44,300 $50,400
Education Professor $60,200 $70,900 $99,100
ESL Teacher $39,500 $40,600 $50,600
School Psychologist $54,200 $61,100 $73,300

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