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How Does an Early Childhood Education Degree Differ From an Elementary Education Degree?

Deciding between an early childhood education degree and an elementary education degree can be a tough decision, but they both offer so much in the way of job opportunities and career choices. Both degrees offer graduates the opportunity to work as teachers in the lower grades, but the grades in which they can teach is dictated by the degree and major. People who love young children and love working with them often find it even harder to decide which degree to pursue and which one would work better for them. Here is some helpful information on the differences between an early childhood education degree and an elementary education degree.

Related resource: 20 Best Online Schools for Early Childhood Education

Careers with Early Childhood Education Degree

Early childhood education degree programs help students develop the skills needed to work in preschool educational settings.

• Childcare

• Child development

• Lesson planning

• Scheduling

• Case management

• First aid

• Psychology

• Cleaning

• Record keeping

Graduates of early childhood education degrees are qualified to work as childcare center directors, preschool teachers, family support specialists, home-based support service providers, researchers, consultants and elementary school teachers.

Careers with Elementary Education Degree

Elementary education degree programs help students develop the knowledge and skills needed to teach in an elementary school.

• Lesson planning

• Scheduling

• Mathematics

• Curriculum development

• Staff development

• Collaboration

• Workshops

• Community relations

• Decision making

• First aid

Graduates of elementary education degrees are qualified to work as a pre-K teacher, substitute teacher, special education teacher and teacher of various grades K-6 and of various subjects.

Degree Requirements

The term early childhood is generally used to refer to the period from birth until 8 years old according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children. However, most graduates of early childhood education degrees generally work in preschools and daycares. The requirements to work as an early childhood educator may vary from school to school or from state to state.

While some schools may require bachelor’s degrees, most schools will hire a candidate with an associate’s degree. A candidate may also find a position in an early childhood setting by earning an early childhood education (ECE) certificate.

An individual pursuing an elementary education degree generally aspires to become an elementary school teacher teaching grades k-6. All states require elementary school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree and licensure to teach in schools. Some elementary school degree programs offer areas of specialization, such as mathematics, English, history or science.

The main difference between the two degrees is that graduates of the early childhood education degree are typically qualified to work in preschool settings, while graduates of the elementary education degree are qualified to work as teachers in an elementary school as well as in a preschool setting.

Which Degree is Better?

Both of these degrees offer excellent career choices. Choosing one over the other can be difficult but should be based on what the student wants to do once he or she graduates. There is a demand for all teachers, but the biggest demand is for elementary school teachers. The wage for elementary school teachers is substantially higher than for early childhood education professionals. Regardless of what degree is chosen, graduates will have several excellent career opportunities.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that preschool teachers should see a job growth of 7 percent between 2018 and 2028 while kindergarten and elementary school teachers should see a 6 percent growth. Regardless of what degree a candidate earns, they’ll have the opportunity to work in a setting where they have the chance to help shape young minds.