With preschool through third-grade enrollment rates continuously increasing, there is rising demand for educators who specialize in working with young children. Those with a Master of Arts (MA) in Early Childhood Education have an edge when applying for positions working with young children in and out of the classroom.
Holding such a degree indicates that you are well-versed in the developmental and educational needs of young children. In addition, an MA in Early Childhood Education can strongly affect educators’ ability to land a job in the field and earn competitive wages, as those who have specialized training earn pay raises and higher salaries more often than their bachelor-prepared colleagues.
Preschool, Kindergarten or Elementary Teacher
An interest in early childhood education is often a path to becoming a teacher. However, effectively supporting and engaging young people means educators must teach basic foundational skills in affective, cognitive, and psychomotor development that studies have shown are imperative to student success later in life.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 55% of elementary school teachers held a master’s degree in 2017-18. As demand for masters-educated teachers increases, holding an advanced degree makes you incredibly competitive in this field, as you will likely have more specialized professional expertise than the majority of other job candidates.
Additionally, a master’s degree can also increase your wages in the field. As of 2017-18, full-time, public elementary and secondary school teachers with a master’s degree and five or fewer years of experience earned an average of $51,050 a year, according to NCES. Compare this to an average of $44,490 annually for teachers in the field with a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of education and between three and five years of experience.
Along with pay increases, those with an MA in Early Childhood Education can pursue high-level occupations in this field. These positions typically require at least a master’s degree, and candidates for these positions are passionate about leading the way for school and district improvement.
Instructional coordinators design, implement and oversee curricular and teaching standards in schools and districts. They provide essential leadership for curricular and instructional change. In addition, they lead faculty in professional learning and development, assessment data and textbook evaluations to ensure effective implementation of those changes. Doing so builds trust around shared practices that support the school or center as a learning organization.
Earning a median annual salary of $70,270, instructional coordinators in elementary and secondary schools need specialized advanced degrees in their chosen areas. An MA in Early Childhood Education is one example of an advanced degree that prepares students to become instructional coordinators for preschool through third-grade levels.
Leadership Positions Outside School Settings
Graduates of a master’s degree in early childhood education can find employment in various settings outside of schools. If you do not have an educational background, or if you are simply not interested in working in a school setting, you could secure a job as an early childhood program leader, consultant, childcare professional or nanny.
For example, those interested in working with young children daily outside of a school setting can also become childcare center directors, members of supervising staff and childcare center program developers. Many of these positions require candidates to hold a master’s degree that meets the standards of accreditation councils like the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Eastern Michigan University’s program meets the accreditation requirements sets by the NAEYC.
An MA in early childhood education also prepares graduates to conduct research that impacts public policy regarding early childhood education. If you are interested in making large-scale changes in this field, you might be interested in becoming a childhood policy consultant or analyst, working with nonprofit organizations and governments at the local, state and federal levels. The median wage for early childhood policy analysts is $99,730, as of September 2020 data.
Depending on your interests and preferred work settings, you can take on teaching, caring and leadership roles inside and outside of the classroom. No matter your background and interest in working with young children, an MA in Early Childhood Education can give you the direction and experience you need to propel your career in whichever direction you choose.
National Center for Education Statistics:
Teacher Qualifications: Fast Facts
Digest of Education Statistics: Average base salary for full-time public elementary and secondary school teachers with a master’s degree
Digest of Education Statistics: Average base salary for full-time public elementary and secondary school teachers with a bachelor’s degree