How to Become a Preschool Teacher in Alabama

An ECE Alabama Degree & Career Guide

Your Early Childhood Teacher Requirements and Career Guide

Pre-school which is, also known as nursery school, is where children ages 3-4 years build their formative views of the world and people around them. It is during these early years that a child’s brain rapidly grows to process stimulation from their environment; therefore, they tend to absorb more information compared to their later years in life. As such, high quality pre-school teachers have a long-term beneficial effect in the growth and shape of a child’s learning career.

4 Steps to Becoming a Pre-School Teacher in Alabama

Choosing the challenging but rewarding career path of being a teacher is a special life-long calling for some of the most passionate and devoted people. And teaching pre-school is where it all starts. In 2000, the Alabama Pre-Kindergarten Pilot program began serving 4-year old children and in 2004 the state was recognized as belonging to the top 10 states of the country for its dedication in complying with highly qualified teacher requirements as mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act enacted in 2001.

Step 1. Get Your Degree

You’ll need a few key things in order to lead your own pre-school or higher classroom. You need to be over 21 years old, have training in early childhood development (which should be provided by your state-approved teacher preparation program, and also have either a human environmental science degree, a special education degree, or an Early Childhood Education degree at any available level.

A bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education that is approved by Alabama’s Board of Education is absolutely required. Contact the education department at the Alabama college or university of your choice for admission requirements for Alabama Educator Preparation Programs. Be sure to check their accreditation as well, as you must attend a school with regional accreditation in order to receive your teachers license.

Your bachelor’s will likely include the necessary teacher certification program, which requires completion of both coursework and fieldwork components. The coursework component consists of essential knowledge and skills for teachers including detailed coverage of contemporary pedagogy which is the art and science of teaching. The fieldwork component involves classroom observation, teaching students, and/or internships related to pre-school education.

Step 2. Testing

Acquiring your teaching credential requires you to complete the necessary amount of undergraduate coursework, finish the accredited teaching certification program, and pass standardized tests. The test required are the PRAXIS exams, which are national standardized tests for teacher certification. You’ll need to complete the section on Early Childhood Education (5204 & 5022) and the Principles of Learning and Teaching: K-6 (5622).

AECAP Alabama Educator Certification Assessment Program handles the required tests for teachers in Alabama.

AECAP Alabama Educator Certification Assessment Program consists of 4 areas:

  • Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators
  • Praxis Subject Assessments (content knowledge)
  • Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (pedagogical knowledge)
  • edTPA Educator Teacher Performance Assessment (pedagogical knowledge)

Individuals seeking teaching certification in Alabama must complete all the required tests issued by AECAP Alabama Educator Certification Assessment Program as applicable. If you wish to reinstate your Alabama teaching certificate that has lapsed for less than 12 months, you may complete the current Praxis Subject Assessments (content knowledge). If successful, your teaching certificate will be reinstated.

Step 3. Background Checks

Once all testing is complete you will need to submit a request for background check and approval to work with children. This is done for the safety of students and to make sure you are an appropriate role-model and caregiver.

In preparation for your teaching employment you will be required to submit to the following checks:

  • Criminal Background Check
  • Child Abuse and Neglect Background Check

Fingerprinting through Gemalto Cogent Applicant Fingerprint Registration System

Step 4. Apply for Licensure

Alabama has 3 levels of teaching certification:

  • Class A

    A Class A certificate is available for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution but did not complete the Alabama Educator Preparation Program. This certificate combines the Alabama Educator Preparation Program together with the completion of a Master’s Degree.

  • Class B

    A Class B certificate is issued to new teachers who completed a Bachelor’s Degree and a Teacher Education Program in Alabama.

  • Class AA

    A Class AA certificate is granted to individuals with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from regionally-accredited institutions. This applies to candidates who meet very specific degree, coursework, and GPA requirements.

Accredited Early Childhood Educator Teacher Programs in Alabama

Brain growth in the first 3 years of a child’s life is the most crucial developmental stage as it sets the foundation for the rest of the child’s learning capabilities. That is the main reason why state and federal government agencies have placed a significant emphasis on early childhood education in the past decade. Alabama legislators are also making early childhood education a high priority in the state.

The field of early childhood education is extremely complex, which is why educational standards are quite strict. A Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education is a requirement before you start your career as Pre-school Teacher. At least 120 credits are required. Every school will determine its own required courses therefore some programs will have more than 120 credits. Teaching theories, instructional technology, educational psychology, and Alabama requirements for specific topics are the focal points of the required coursework.

Therefore, accreditation for schools offering courses concurrent to Teacher Education Programs are a specific educational standard for schools in the United States that acts as a form of quality control at the national and regional levels. A school being accredited means that they’ve received the stamp of approval that minimum standards for accreditation have been met.

The term “accrediting” means that the school underwent the process by which a recognized educational association grants public recognition to a school when it meets certain established qualifications and standards as a result of periodic evaluations being carried out.

Commonly Offered Early Childhood Education Courses

Some courses you might encounter while completing your degree include:

  • Psychology of Learning
  • Instructional Technology for Educators
  • Diverse Students in Inclusive Schools
  • Child Growth and Development
  • Foundations of Education
  • Measurement and Evaluation in Education
  • Family, Parent, and Community Involvement
  • Creative Learning in Early Childhood Education
  • How to Teach Language Arts
  • How to Teach Math and Science
  • How to Teach Social Studies

In most Alabama schools, you will have to complete a certain amount of general education credits before applying for a teacher education program.

Below are five schools that offer a Teacher Education Program.

  • Alabama A & M University

    Type: 4 years, Public
    Campus setting: city, midsize
    Campus housing: yes
    Student population: 6,000
    Student to faculty ratio: 10:1

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education and Teaching
    • Post-grad Certificate in General Education
    • Bachelor’s Degree in Teaching Individuals with Speech or Language Impairments
    • Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Administration
    • Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and Teaching
    • Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Special Education and Teaching: General

    Accreditation By: Regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission or Colleges. Programmatic accreditation for the education department comes from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teachers (NCATE).

  • Alabama State University

    Type: 4 years, Public
    Campus setting: city, midsize
    Campus housing: Yes
    Student population: 4,760
    Student to faculty ratio: 15:1

    Degrees Offered:

    • Master’s and Post-grad Certificate in School Counseling and Guidance Services
    • Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Teaching
    • Post-grad Certificate in General Education
    • Master’s and Doctoral Degrees in Educational Leadership and Administration
    • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Teaching
    • Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Special Education and Teaching: General
    • Master’s Degree in Teacher Education: Multiple Levels

    Accreditation By: Regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission or Colleges. Programmatic accreditation for the education department comes from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teachers (NCATE).

  • Athens State University

    Type: 4 years, Public
    Campus setting: Town, Fringe
    Campus housing: No
    Student population: 3,114
    Student to faculty ratio: 15:1

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor’s Degree in Kindergarten/Pre-school Education and Teaching
    • Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education and Teaching: General
    • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Teaching

    Accreditation By: Regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission or Colleges. Programmatic accreditation for the education department comes from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teachers (NCATE).

  • Jacksonville State University

    Type: 4 years, Public
    Campus setting: city, small
    Campus housing: Yes
    Student population: 8,567
    Student to faculty ratio: 19:1

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Teaching
    • Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Special Education and Teaching: General
    • Master’s and Post-grad Certificate in School Counseling and Guidance Services
    • Master’s and Post-grad Certificate in Educational Leadership and Administration
    • Master’s Degree in Reading Teacher Education

    Accreditation By: Regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission or Colleges. Programmatic accreditation for the education department comes from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teachers (NCATE).

  • Troy University

    Type: 4 years, Public
    Campus setting: town, remote
    Campus housing: Yes
    Student population: 17,521
    Student to faculty ratio: 14:1

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education and Teaching
    • Master’s and Post-grad Certificate in Education: General
    • Master’s and Post-grad Certificate in School Counseling and Guidance Services
    • Master’s and Post-grad Certificate in Educational Leadership and Administration
    • Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Post-grad Certificate in Elementary Education and Teaching

    Accreditation By: Regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission or Colleges. Programmatic accreditation for the education department comes from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Alabama Pre-School Teacher Career Options in Different Sectors of Education

As soon as you acquire your teaching certification and all other requirements as mentioned in the steps above, you can then start applying for teaching jobs in the state of Alabama. The Office of School Readiness (OSR) is part of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (DECE). It is in charge of administering the state-funded pre-kindergarten program of Alabama.

The OSR provides first-class Pre-K classes in a variety of settings.

Public Schools –
The Alabama public school system operates within districts governed by school boards and superintendents who were elected locally. In 2013, there were 744,637 students enrolled in a total of 1,637 schools in 173 school districts. There were 51,877 teachers in public schools, approximately 1 teacher for every 14 students compared to the national average of 1:16.

Private Childcare or Daycare –
For the 2018-2019 school year, there were 329 top private daycares and preschools in Alabama, serving 70,705 students. The difference between pre-school and private childcare or daycare when it comes to early childhood education lies in the age groups. Private childcare or daycare caters to children ages 6 weeks to 2 years while pre-school accepts children starting at the age of 2.

Private Schools –
For the year 2018-2019 there were 469 top private schools in Alabama with 88,221 students.

Head Start Programs –
Head Start is a federal program that promotes school readiness for children from birth to age five coming from families with low income. The program serves to enhance children’s social, cognitive, and emotional development. The program emphasizes the role of parents as the child’s first teacher.
Children from birth until age 5 from families with low income are eligible to attend Head Start program as per Poverty Guidelines provided by Federal government.

Community-based programs –
Community-based programs are available for children in certain areas based on community activism and educational involvement from local businesses and non-profits. Most of these are offered on a seasonal basis, with summer programs meant to enhance and maintain learning for young children on long vacations from school.

Faith-based programs –
These programs vary in scope from seasonal approaches similar to community programs, to full-time class schedules and tuition in the form of other private schooling institutions. Teachers will teach students the usual subjects, while also maintaining respect for the faith the school is organized under.

Military programs –
Educational programs are also provided for children of military personnel. Child Development Centers offer child care for children of military families ages 6 weeks to 5 years. Programs are certified by the Department of Defense and accredited by a national accrediting body such as the National Association for Education of Young Children.

Common Career Paths for Pre-School Teachers

In terms of growth, there are many positions that you can go for in the course of the normal progression for your career.

Initially, you could get promoted to the following positions:
Office Manager Human Resources Manager/ Operations Manager/ Executive Assistant/ Office Manager, Dental Office/ Office Manager, Medical Office Manager

From there, you can climb to middle management positions:
Senior Human Resources Manager/ General Operations Manager/ Executive Assistant to CEO/ Senior Executive Assistant/ Director of Operations/ Medical Office Manager/ Practice Manager/ Dental Office Manager/ Medical Billing Manager

Ultimately, you can land key leadership positions such as:
Education Administrator, Pre-School or Childcare Center Program/ Daycare Director/ Assistant Director Pre-school/ Childcare Center Director/ Director Pre-school/ Director Child Care

Early Childhood Education Salaries in Alabama

JobEntry-LevelMid-CareerLate-Career
Pre-school Teacher$ 25,000$ 26,500$ 29,500
Elementary School Teacher$ 37,100$ 47,300$ 49,000
Special Education Teacher for Pre-school, Kindergarten or Elementary School$ 32,400$ 40,500$ 51,500
English as Second Language Teacher$ 39,000$ 40,000$ 52,000
Primary School Teacher$ 34,000$ 39,000$ 49,000
Professor/Post-Secondary Higher Education$ 60,000$ 71,000$ 99,000
Elementary School Principal$ 75,000$ 79,000$ 83,000
School Psychologist$ 54,000$ 60,000$ 72,000

Videos To Help You Find The Right Career Choices

  • Occupational Video - Early Childhood Educator

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DJzMTQjsOA

  • Life as a Kindergarten Teacher

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBiL04gI4Yw

  • Part 1 - High-Quality Kindergarten Today - Background

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XriN7Ks6j84

  • Special Education K-2 Teacher

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=an3ngVFbJC0

  • Early childhood special education, for future teachers

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJRebt7-3b4

  • Why Special Education?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3YwKIqlCsw

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