When it comes to early childhood education, those in the top jobs generally started their careers in the lower-paying jobs in this field. The elementary school principal was likely an early childhood education teacher at one time. Those who wish to advance from the classroom to school administration earn graduate degrees and work their way up. Pay is affected by location, as some states pay higher salaries to early childhood educators than others, and by the certifications and experience held by the individual. With many of these positions you will need some experience and at least a bachelor of science in early childhood education.
Elementary School Principal
Average Income: $80,700
The principal is the highest-ranking administrator in an elementary school. In some private schools, the position is known as headmaster. In charge of the overall operation of the school, the particular duties of an elementary school principal are outlined in state statutes. Prior to becoming a principal the candidate should have several years of teaching experience, graduate from an accredited program for principals, and pass the state licensure examination. A master’s degree in education is required for the position in many school districts.
Director of Special Education
Average Income: $74,000
A director of special education must have all the necessary certifications and qualifications required by the state board of education. School districts may require that a candidate have prior school administration experience, along with several years of teaching special education. The director supervises all special education department personnel and plans, directs, and implements the special education program and curriculum. The director must ensure that special education department and programs comply with all state and federal regulations regarding special education delivery.
Average Income: $71,800
Known in some districts as a vice-principal, the job of assistant principal is the initial step on the career ladder in school administration. Some will go on to become principals, while many will remain in this critical role. Along with helping the principal run the school, the assistant principal works with teachers, students, and parents in various capacities. It is often the assistant principal’s responsibility to ensure the school meets all state and federal guidelines. Assistant principals usually serve as teachers for many years before moving into this position. While some jurisdictions will consider a candidate with a bachelor’s degree, most prefer to hire someone with a master’s degree for this job.
Special Education, Preschool/Kindergarten
Average Income: $46,300
Special education teachers at the preschool or kindergarten level work with children diagnosed as mentally, emotionally, or socially challenged. The teacher not only works with the students, but also deals with the parents more than in a traditional classroom. Collaboration with therapists and other professionals is frequent, both for determining the educational goals for each student and monitoring student progress. The teacher must help each student reach his or her potential and find ways for each student to progress based on their individual diagnoses and prognoses. The special education teachers must familiarize themselves with the various disabilities experienced by the children in their classroom, including side effects and possible medical needs. A bachelor’s degree is required.
Elementary School Teacher
Average Income: $44,600
An elementary school teacher teaches first through fifth grades. Along with teaching reading, math, social studies, and science, elementary school teachers also help students develop appropriate behavioral and social skills. Time after school ends is spent grading papers, developing lesson plans, meeting with parents, and pursuing continuing education. Teaching elementary school requires a bachelor’s degree.
Child Care Center Director
Average Income: $41,200
The duties of a childcare center director are similar to that of preschool director but the emphasis is on care rather than education. They hire and train staff, prepare budgets, manage finances, and create programs for the center. They are often in charge of the physical building and its upkeep. The director must make sure the center complies with all local, state, and federal laws regarding childcare facilities. Childcare center directors must have a bachelor’s degree and certifications such as the CDA, as well as licensure.
Average Income: $40,800
The preschool director oversees the school’s daily operations. Duties includes staff supervision, educational program development, hiring and training new teachers, and meeting with parents. In some preschools, the director may continue teaching classes, though usually only part-time. A bachelor’s degree is required, and most states require certifications such as Child Development Associate (CDA), as well as licensure.
Average Income: $40,600
For many children, kindergarten is their initial introduction to school. A kindergarten teacher not only prepares students socially and academically but teaches children how to behave in the classroom. Some school districts offer full-time kindergarten, the same regular school day as for older children. Other districts have half-day kindergarten programs and teachers will have different students in the morning and afternoon classes. Teaching kindergarten requires a bachelor’s degree. As with other teachers at the elementary school level, kindergarten teachers usually work nine to ten months of the year, with summers off and a week or more off during both winter and spring break.
Education Career Paths