A degree in early childhood education is a common choice for high school graduates moving into college or university. As an early childhood educator, you can help shape the young minds of the future at a critical period in their development.
But like any ambitious person, you may be wondering what prospects await you in this potential new career, and what the preschool teaching salary looks like. Below, we’ll take an honest look at the earning potential for an early childhood educator in the United States.
Do Preschool Teachers Make Good Money?
Early childhood education is generally considered to cover the ages from birth to around eight years old. Preschool teachers take the reins between the ages of three and five, prior to children moving into kindergarten.
Overall, early childhood education is an essential part of the education process. According to the U.S. Department of Education, studies have shown that high-quality early education can result in stronger academic performance and better health and social standing all throughout students’ lives. Children who attend preschool programs are more likely to perform well in academia, find good careers, and progress more quickly at work than children who do not.
Yet, despite this evidence, preschool teachers are paid significantly less than teachers in other areas. For example, they’re paid less than roles such as mail clerks and machine operators. One of the most jarring facts highlighted by the Department of Education is that their salary is so below average that they qualify for state benefits, including some of the programs taught to children from low-income programs.
Unfortunately, this is often the case with roles in service industries, and it is not limited to preschool teachers, nor is it limited to the U.S.
How Much Does a Preschool Teacher Make With an Associate Degree?
While some teaching positions in the U.S. require graduates to have a bachelor’s degree, preschool teachers can find work with an associate degree.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), preschool teachers earned a median yearly salary of $30,520 in 2019. That equates to approximately $586.92 per week if we divide the figure evenly, forgetting any holiday allowance or potential absence. To understand how this stacks up against other occupations across the nation, we can look at the median weekly salary that is publicized by the BLS each year.
In the second quarter of 2020, the BLS highlighted median weekly earnings of $1,002 per week for the country’s 104.5 million full-time salaried employees. This figure was slightly lower for women – $913 – and above the median for men – $1,087. Further variations existed based on race and ethnicity; the full data can be seen in this BLS report.
It’s important to take into account that other factors can impact these figures. For example, the worldwide pandemic that struck in 2020 had a significant impact on the service industry, resulting in redundancies in many areas. Many entry-level roles within the retail and food industries were lost, while many senior and corporate roles – those that are typically paid higher salaries – were not. This could have skewed the data significantly.
How Much Does an Early Childhood Teacher Make in Jamaica?
Some qualified preschool teachers look further afield for career opportunities as a result of the salary gulf highlighted above. In fact, Jamaica is a common choice given the better rates of pay, low cost of living, and incredible natural beauty. While the education system is different than the U.S., children receive six years of education for free – between ages 6 and 12 – which are the years considered to be ‘early education’ in Jamaica. You may be able to find a position as a preschool teacher educating these groups of children.
Additionally, for these positions, you don’t necessarily need an associate degree to qualify. Vocational colleges and community colleges offer programs that focus on key subject areas for early education teachers in Jamaica, including construction, technology, and agriculture. A TOEFL certification can also be beneficial in helping you secure a position.
With all of the above in mind, the salary for an early education or preschool teacher in Jamaica can range from $44,000 to $50,000 USD on average. With the lower cost of living compared to the United States, this opportunity may seem more worthwhile to those who are feeling disillusioned by the situation at home.