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What is Early Childhood Education?

Wyoming is a state dedicated to ensuring that its youngsters are well-prepared for school. The Wyoming Department of Education makes great efforts to reach out to a wide range of community members so that they can support students from an early age.

Their goal is to create lifelong learners out of children before they begin kindergarten. Not only do Wyoming's Early Learning programs reach children at a time when it's vital to instill literacy and other skills, but they also reach parents. That is, when parents become invested in their child's education at such an early age, the stage is set for lifelong success.

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Steps to Become an Early Childhood Education Teacher in Wyoming

The first step in becoming an Early Childhood Education Preschool Teacher in Wyoming is to determine whether the profession is truly for you. Many hear a calling to the profession, others can point to inspirational teachers or experiences that led them to pursue the classroom. Teaching is one of the most important professions and yet it is one of the lower-paid. However, you will receive payments that are better than gold year in and year out. Young lives will rest in your hands every single day. Those lives depend on you being present and capable of offering stability and nurture every day. That is, it's more than a job you take to pay bills.

If you still want to pursue Early Childhood Education in Wyoming, here are the steps you must take:

Step 1. Earn a Degree in Early Childhood Education

Wyoming is one of the few states that has a route to teaching that does not require a bachelor’s degree. Keep reading to find out what your options are. The state requires that every full-time classroom educator, in a preschool associated with the Wyoming State Board of Education, be licensed, including Pre-k, kindergarten, and elementary teachers. Head Start also requires that you have the proper degree and prefers that you be licensed. To acquire the proper credentials, you will need to first complete a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education.

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Along the way to your degree, you need to complete the teacher's ultimate rite of passage: student teaching. This is a mentored experience in which you teach students under the supervision of a seasoned professional. Not only must you receive stellar marks from your student teaching supervisor, but your program's Dean must also approve. Once you have completed the necessary coursework for your degree, the Dean must fill out and submit an Institutional Recommendation (IR) to Wyoming’s Professional Teaching Standards Board.

Even if you have been teaching for years and have recently moved to, say, Laramie, you need to contact your alma mater and request that they send the IR to the PTSB.

Now, to discuss your other option, you’ll need to understand how preschools in Wyoming work. There are schools associated with the State Board of Education, as mentioned above, and we’ve discussed their requirements. However, there are also preschools associated with the Department of Family Services, and their requirements are not as stringent. To be a teacher in one of these programs, you must have 10 completed college credits in ECE, child development, or another child-related field; 1 year experience working with kids in a childcare facility; your high school diploma or equivalent, be 21 years old, and pass the usual background check. Even with all of this, you will not be able to transfer to a facility associated with the Department of Education in the state, but you will be able to gain experience and perhaps earn money while working toward your degree.

Step 2. Complete any Required Exams

To qualify for full licensure in Early Childhood Education, you must also pass Praxis II 5001 Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects. As the name implies, this examination covers the four major subjects that you will teach once you have your own classroom. The first time you take Praxis II, you'll take all four: 5002, 5003, 5004, 5005. If you need to retake one of the subjects, you can do so at a later time, but the first attempt must be at all four. When you arrive at the testing center for the first time and select to take 5001, all four will be included. If you are well-prepared, you shouldn't have to re-take any of the subjects. The subjects are: Reading and Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science.

Step 3. Standards and Qualifications

While most of Wyoming's pathway to licensure should be familiar to residents of most states, they have special academic standards for their teachers. That is, all teachers must take courses that cover the U.S. Constitution as well as the Wyoming Constitution. These courses are part of the core curriculum for all graduates of the Wyoming Community College and University systems. The general requirement is that you take a History or Political Science course, or courses, that cover those legal documents. You may be exempt from taking the test if you’ve done well enough on courses covering the material.

To complete your application packet, you must also include two FBI fingerprint cards as well as a background check. If you have some infractions in your past that exceed minor misdemeanors, you should report them along with this part of the application. Include any and all documents you have regarding the matter that show its nature and how you have resolved it. If you have questions about what you should or should not disclose, it is perhaps wise to seek legal counsel. However, if the infraction did not directly involve minors, was non-violent, and you have paid all fines, etc. the PTSB will likely still issue a license.

Popular Career Choices

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

Additional Specialization Certifications

While many teachers spend their entire career with nothing more than a standard teaching credential, others choose to specialize in subjects they find particularly intriguing. Your goal could be to experience as many permutations of teaching as possible before moving into administration, or you might simply have a passion for working with special populations. Here are a few certifications that are often in demand:

  • Teaching English as a Second Language
    There is a growing demand for teachers who can work with students from other nations who need help adjusting to our English-language culture. You may have a special love of linguistics or foreign languages, or you may simply identify with the struggles these children endure. ESL teachers are frequently in demand in cities that attract immigrant families for work.
  • Gifted and Talented Students
    While you may believe that every student has special gift, some students have cognitive abilities that far exceed their peers. They sometimes become bored troublemakers, or they might otherwise ‘check out’ of their classes, posting grades that show they are underperforming. What these students need is a teacher who offers them new and exciting challenges. When you achieve a Gifted and Talented certificate, you can help these idle minds thrive.
  • Special Education
    There is perhaps no specialty area that is more diverse than SPED. SPED students might have very low cognitive abilities, or they might have a learning disorder, such as dyslexia, and go on to become Ivy League college students. This is a specialty area that will require you to create highly detailed Individualized Education Program (IEPs) as well as work in classroom settings that can be both challenging and richly rewarding.

Top Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs in Wyoming

If you are not yet licensed but are seeking to work in a school district that is particularly in need of teachers, you might be able to attain a provisional certificate. This will allow you to work in a classroom while you pursue a standard license.

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If you decide to work in a preschool associated with the Department of Family Services, whether licensed as a teacher or not, you will be required to take additional training in staff orientation, first aid, CPR, sanitation training, and recognizing and reporting child abuse. Most of these forms of training are available without Family of Department employment and would be a positive addition to any teachers’ certifications.

In order to become a licensed teacher, the Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board needs to approve your academic program. Programs on the PTSB's list are all accredited, Wyoming-based institutions. If you have a degree from another state, you will need to ensure that your program was fully accredited at the time of your graduation. You must also submit an Institutional Recommendation from your program's dean.

Since Wyoming is a rather sparsely-populated state, most of the PTSB's list are from out of state. However, these programs are pre-approved and are in states that reciprocate in-state tuition with Wyoming-based students.

  • University of Wyoming Degrees Offered:
    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; MS. & Dr.
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Post-grad Certificate
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS. & Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; Undergrad certificate
    • Teaching English as a Second Language; Post-grad Certificate

    Accreditation By:

    • Higher Learning Commission
    • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
  • Black Hills State University – North Dakota Degrees Offered:
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS. & Post-grad Certificate
    • Kindergarten/Preschool Education and Teaching; BS.
    • Reading Teacher Education; MS.
    • Special Education and Teaching; BS.
    • Speech Teacher Education; BS.
    • Teacher Assistant/Aide; AS.

    Accreditation By:

    • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
    • Higher Learning Commission
  • Chadron State College - Nebraska Degrees Offered:
    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; MS.
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; BS.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • School Librarian/School Library Media Specialist; BS. & MS.
    • Special Education and Teaching; BS.

    Accreditation By:

    • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
    • Higher Learning Commission
  • Montana State University Degrees Offered:
    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; MS.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS. & Post-grad Certificate
    • School Librarian/School Library Media Specialist; Post-grad Certificate

    Accreditation By:

    • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
    • Higher Learning Commission
  • Western Governors University - Utah Degrees Offered:
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; BS.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS., MS., & Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Teaching English as a Second Language; MS. & Post-grad Certificate

    Accreditation By:

    • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
    • Higher Learning Commission

Potential Careers and Salaries for Graduates

Where You Can Work as an Early Childhood Educator

  • Public schools
    Wyoming's public schools require that you have a full teaching credential or at least a provisional certificate. You might direct your career path towards a lifetime of work in a traditional elementary school classroom, as an ESL teacher, or in Special Education. However, you might also consider someday working in administration where you can effect change from a bigger-picture perspective.
  • Search Programs Offering Early Childhood Education Majors

  • Private childcare
    For parents who can afford private childcare, a trained educator would be a boon. If you have training in early childhood education, you might seek out such work. You could also offer your services to families who are homeschooling children yet who would appreciate help from someone with professional training.
  • Private schools
    Private schools can hire whomever they wish to teach in their classrooms. However, if you have a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education, your resume will shine all the brighter when the principal begins the hiring process. Though you do not need a Wyoming teacher's license, if you have one it will certainly help both you and the school.
  • Head Start programs
    Head Start was one of the most revolutionary advances in Early Childhood Education to come along in the 20th Century. As a Head Start teacher, you will provide support and instruction that will dramatically impact the lives of every single student you touch. Though Head Start doesn't always require a full teacher's license, they often do. Check with your local Head Start officials to determine their specific requirements.
  • Community-based programs
    These educational outlets often do not require that you have a Wyoming teacher's credential, but there are degree programs that can provide specialized preparation for this sort of work. For instance, you might study kinesiology and work as a coach for community leagues or have a degree in fine art and teach young creatives in after-school programs. You might also attain a license in alternative education, be a social worker with child and family services, or be involved with community leadership. Another option is Public Health Education.
  • Faith-based programs
    Much like private schools, faith-based programs are not bound to hire teachers with state credentials. However, with the right background, including coursework in Early Childhood Education, you can likely work with a larger church that offers various educational services.
  • Military programs
    If you have a teacher's license in any state you can search to find a job teaching on a military base. This can be an exciting opportunity to see the world, positively impact young lives, and serve the nation along the way.
Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Preschool Teacher $28,500 $29,100 $34,200
Elementary School Teacher $36,100 $37,800 $50,400
Professor of Education $58,400 $73,400 $100,000
Special Education Teacher $41,000 $52,000 $54,000
School Psychologist $54,100 $61,000 $73,200

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