Inside Preschool Teacher Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Teaching Is Well Respected...
It is surprising how many people look up to those in the teaching profession. Parents of students as well as the general population are almost always excited to find out that someone is a teacher." (TEACHER; 2014)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Virginia
School: Studied EDUCATION at GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY in Virginia; completed Bachelor degree in 1988

"It's Absolutely Astounding How Often An Educator Must Step In...
The most surprising thing would be how often you have to speak with parents about the child's home life. Sometimes, you do have to get CPS involved to protect a child in the class." (Educator; 2014)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Washington, female
School: Studied Early Childhood Education at Clark College in Washington; completed Associate degree in 2012

"Joy Beats Riches...
I was surprised at how little money I make. I was also surprised by how little I care considering how much I love my work." (Teacher; 2014)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Connecticut, female
School: Studied Education And Child Study at Smith College in Massachusetts; completed Bachelor degree in 2004

"Extra Work...
I am surprised by all the paperwork that is required and all the extra, non-working with student related tasks that teaching involves such as parent communication, meetings, grading, preparing, etc." (Teacher; 2014)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Indiana, female
School: Studied Education at Indiana University in Indiana; completed Bachelor degree in 2003

"Working With Kids Is HARD Work...
Most people would be surprised about the sheer amount of physical energy needed to complete a full 8 hour day as a preschool teacher. It is very hard, stressful work to care for other people's children to their standards. You also get sick a lot more than you think you will, no matter how much hand sanitizer you use." (Preschool Teacher; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania
School: Studied History at University Of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"Start At The Beginning...
Most people have no idea how much work and how long it takes to get a job as a teacher. Take an entry level position and turn it into something bigger. Work your way up from the bottom, usually starting as a child care provider or an assistant teacher. This helps develop key skills and helps an educator decide what type of career they would like to have." (Early Childhood Education Teacher; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Colorado, female
School: Studied Behavioral Science With Early Childhood Education Licensure at Metropolitan State University Of Denver in Colorado; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"Preschool Teachers Are Not Just Babysitters...
Most people assume that preschool teachers are not as educated (& or as intelligent) as teachers who work with older children. I was surprised that parents looked at me more as a babysitter, than an educator for their children." (Teacher; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Kentucky, female
School: Studied Elementary Education at Eastern Kentucky University in Kentucky; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"Learning From Them...
Most people would be surprised to discover how much they can learn from a child. Children can teach people to enjoy life, and to look at things in different ways. Sometimes, a child's way of looking at things makes more sense than an adult's way." (Preschool Teacher; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in New York, female
School: Studied Human Development at SUNY Empire - Distance Learning Program in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"What I think most people would be surprised to find out is that as an early childhood educator, I am not just a babysitter. I create lesson plans, conduct parent/teacher meetings, and help children build the foundations of education that will help them continue to learn and grow effectively once they get into elementary school." (Early Childhood Teacher (Preschool Teacher); 2012)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Indiana, female
School: Studied Early Childhood Education at Ball State University in Indiana; completed Bachelor degree in 2007

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Pre- School Teacher: "I love my job. The best part about it is watching the incredible growth that occurs in children in the pre-school years. They are pure and wholesome and so excited to learn and try new things. They say the funniest things and they are so proud of their accomplishments. I love the growth that is so obvious from the beginning of the year to spring time, physically, socially, and cognitively. It is wonderful to have a child feel safe with their teachers and in their environment and thrive. I would have to say the hardest part of the job is that you need A LOT of energy to keep up with this population! They are very busy and like to explore everything! Also, prior to language development they typically become frustrated trying to express themselves and this can come out in hitting or biting etc." (2011)

Preschool Teacher: "The best part about my job is when the children say "WOW" after a cool science experiment or when I can tell they just "got" a math concept. I enjoy working with this age group because so much is new to them. Because I'm not there regular all day teacher they look forward to the change in their schedule once a week to go to a different classroom or have me visit their room depending on the facility. The worst part of my job is when there is a child or a few children that ruin it for the rest of the group. Sometimes there is a child who just won't listen to instruction or is not able to sit still. This makes for a challenging lesson because I really want to give my attention to the good listeners and not the disruptive children." (2011)

Teacher: "The best part of my job is being able to adjust my plans to what the children want to learn about. Since the program is very flexible, I don't have to worry about testing the way that school teachers do. I also love being able to use my art education degree and do a lot of fun art projects. The worst part of my job is the hours, because I don't get off at 3 or 4 like I would if I taught in a school. I also don't get summers off and much holiday time, because that is when all the kids need to come." (2010)

Career Background

Preschool Teacher

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Teaching Credentials Are Key To Success...
To have a successful teaching career, getting credentials at a good university is important in two main ways. First, with a higher degree, you can earn a living wage. Second, it will ensure you can work anywhere you like at any time." (TEACHER; 2014)

"Organization Skills Are Vital To Teaching...
If you want to be a successful teacher, you must be incredibly organized, not only with classroom materials, but also with paperwork related to students. It is important to have developed skills that are necessary to keep and record grades, anecdotal records, and other paperwork." (Teacher; 2014)

"Take As Many Courses In Family And Home Life As Possible...
I would highly suggest taking courses in dealing with a child's home life effectively." (Educator; 2014)

"Parent Parents...
Make sure to communicate openly and positively with parents. They need to feel comfortable with you and will be more cooperative if they feel you like them." (Teacher; 2014)

"In Order To Succeed As A Teacher, Prove Your Worth...
If you want to be respected as a teacher, you must work hard & show the parents just how much you care. If you demonstrate your knowledge, & exhibit a genuine interest, your coworkers & the parents will appreciate you more." (Teacher; 2014)

"Learn Patience...
If you want to be a successful preschool teacher, you need to develop a lot of patience. Children may take months to warm up to you, and you must give it your all in order to make a difference in their lives." (Preschool Teacher; 2014)

"Career Enjoyment...
If you want to be a successful preschool teacher, you should remember that relaxing and enjoying yourself is essential. If you do not remember to relax and enjoy yourself, you will project a negative attitude." (Preschool Teacher; 2014)

"Is It Enough...
If you want to be an educator, really think about if you can survive on the money that you will be paid. There are many teachers who hold down more than one job over the year or during the summer to make ends meet." (Early Childhood Education Teacher; 2014)

"Ensure The School You Choose Is Well-Run...
If you love children and have patience and a lot of energy you will enjoy working as a pre-school teacher. If you would like flexibility in hours to accommodate raising a family, a pre-school setting typically follows the school calendar and hours. Spend time in a particular pre-school setting either visiting or substituting to see if the program is well run and a good fit for you." (Pre- School Teacher; 2011)

"Kids Learn In Different Ways...
Study different learning styles Really be sure you like working with children. It's ok if you don't. It's not for everyone and it doesn't make you a bad person! Be friendly but stern. Kids sense when you are a "pushover" and they will push!" (Preschool Teacher; 2011)

"Get A Degree In Education...
Pursue a degree in Education. It could be art education, music, physical education, or just an elementary education degree. You would also probably need to move to an area with year-round schools where such jobs are available. Otherwise the only similar jobs would be available in summer camps. At the center I work for there is also a lot of room to grow with the company and move from being a teacher to lead teacher to program coordinator, and even a center director." (Teacher; 2010)