Where can a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction take you?
Pursuing a career in education is admirable. Once you’ve made that decision, you must decide which age group you’d like to work with. If you have a passion for connecting with young children — being there to guide them as they begin their educational journey and encouraging them to feel a connection to learning — you might consider early childhood education.
Early childhood education applies to children from birth to age 8, which includes preschoolers through third graders. It is at this time that many children develop the basic knowledge that becomes the foundation for the rest of their formal education.
A teaching certificate or bachelor’s degree is the first step toward a career in early childhood education, but a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Early Childhood Education) can offer the advanced knowledge and instructional techniques to help you become a leader in this field. ASU Online offers a fully online program to provide flexibility for those wishing to pursue this degree. Focusing on equipping students with specialized skills and advanced knowledge to excel in teaching young children, the program centers around early childhood pedagogy, community collaboration, technology, administration, policy analysis and advocacy.
With a Master of Education, possible careers you can pursue include teaching preschoolers and elementary-aged children and beyond. You could choose to become an administrator or teach others at the collegiate level to become teachers themselves. Following are five potential opportunities you can pursue with an online master’s in curriculum and instruction:
1. Preschool Teacher
Connecting with children at the start of their educational journey is just one rewarding aspect of becoming a preschool teacher. While working with children under age 5, you get to teach them their letters, numbers, colors and much more. You’re also there to encourage their social development and advocate for them if any emotional or developmental problems manifest.
Furthermore, preschool teachers today are becoming more engaged and integrated into the learning process. As more research is conducted regarding how young children learn and the ideal teaching methods, preschool-level educators are incorporating drama, physical movement, non-verbal lessons and more to keep children active and engaged in learning.
The salary range for this position varies widely and is influenced by where you work — whether in public or private school and other factors. Although the number of preschool-aged children is expected to increase, the projected growth for preschool teachers from 2014 to 2024 is right at the national average of 7 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Opportunities for advancement increase based on your level of education and experience.
2. Child Care Center Director
Another possibility with an early childhood education concentration is a role as a director of a daycare, preschool or other child care facility. In this position, you would oversee a facility’s administrative and day-to-day operations. This includes tasks such as advising teachers on curriculum and activities, ensuring a safe and educational environment for children and monitoring services to make certain that licensing standards are met. In addition, directors may also manage operational tasks, such as finances, utilities and other daily necessities.
Child care center directors are positioned to impact all levels of early childhood education within their facilities, from the learning initiatives within the classroom to faculty well-being and operational efficiency. As a result, it’s an engaging and rewarding career path that encourages strong leadership and management experience.
According to the BLS, the median salary for a preschool and child care center director is $46,000. Job growth in this area from 2014 to 2024 is at the national average of 7 percent. Most states require at least one to two years of relevant job experience, along with a minimum level of education, to be licensed as a child care center director. Having a graduate-level degree in early childhood education can offer a clear advantage in competing for these roles.
3. Early Childhood Social and Community Service Manager
Applying what you learn as an early childhood educator outside the classroom can be appealing to those who are interested in business and working with children. One such career path is social and community service manager, professionals who coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations focused on young children.
For instance, teachers craft curriculum that they then implement directly with children. In contrast, social and community service managers manage the people who implement the programs they create. Social and community service managers are also responsible for collecting appropriate data to show the effectiveness of their programs.
The median wage for social and community service managers is almost $65,000, according to the BLS. Most employers in this industry prefer candidates who have a master’s degree and prior work experience. Coursework in statistics, program management and policy analysis can also give you an extra boost, since this job is a combination of roles.
4. Education Administrator
Education administrator positions span well beyond the role of principal. At a preschool or childcare center, the education administrator plans, directs or coordinates all the facility’s activities. This includes both academic and non-academic activities. The overarching responsibility in this role is to provide students a safe and productive learning environment.
Being an education administrator means your actual job title can vary. Preschool director, head start director, and child care center administrator are just a few possibilities. They have similar responsibilities and typically require a master’s degree and work experience as a teacher or in a prior management role.
The average salary for this position is around $52,000, according to the BLS. Additional skills that can positively influence base salary include administration, personnel management and operations management.
5. Post-Secondary Educator
Teaching future early childhood educators is another possibility with an early childhood education concentration. Teaching at the collegiate level requires at least a master’s degree, if not a Ph.D. It is also helpful to have work experience either as an early childhood teacher or in a related career.
Post-secondary educators can also conduct research and publish scholarly content in their fields. The amount of time you could spend teaching depends on your institution as well as your specific position. Working at this level also offers some professional flexibility since you don’t have to teach full-time. Adjunct faculty — those who teach part-time — usually have another job in their field, which qualifies them to be adjunct professors and gives them a vested interest in teaching future professionals.
Job growth in this overall market is almost double the national average, according to the BLS. Growth is projected at 13 percent from 2014 to 2024. This includes both full-time and part-time faculty. The availability of opportunities as a post-secondary educator correlates directly with college and university enrollments, which are rising.
While salaries can vary by institution and are affected by working part time vs full time, according to the BLS, the median wage for a post-secondary educator overall is around $75,000. For a faculty member in education, the median is around $63,000. However, since most faculty work part time, possibly at more than one college and university, it’s difficult to estimate an accurate average wage for this type of career arc.
Learn more about your potential careers in early childhood education
Do any of these careers in early childhood education sound appealing to you? As you narrow down your options, take into consideration how you want to make an impact in the lives of young learners. It can be at a high level, as you help manage an organization, on a closer scale, as you work directly with children, or as you craft the next generation of educators. No matter which path appeals to you, you can learn more about expanding your qualifications through the fully online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Early Childhood Education) program from Arizona State University. This advanced degree educates you on the specialized skills and knowledge that can help you prepare to tackle these careers – and many more – in early childhood education.