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Early Childhood Education

Job Duties

Preschool teachers educate and care for children younger than age 5, who have not yet entered kindergarten. As a preschool teacher you will plan and carry out classroom activities that are fun for children and promote skill development, such as language, motor, self-regulation, and social skills. Preschool teachers also communicate with parents to ensure their expectations for their children’s educational and developmental needs are being met.

Education and Certification Requirements

Education and training requirements for early childhood educators vary based on settings and state regulations. Preschool teachers in Head Start programs nationwide must have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. In public schools, preschool teachers are generally required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. In Illinois you must take and pass the Early Childhood Education content examination administered by the Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS).


The median annual wage for preschool teachers was $29,780 in 2018. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,610, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $55,350. Wages also differ by your position. In 2018 these were the median salaries for different positions in Illinois:

Preschool Teacher: $29,090

Preschool Administrators: $48,980

Preschool Special Educator: $56,600

Job Outlook

Employment of preschool teachers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected due to a continued focus on the importance of early childhood education.

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