Earn Your Early Childhood Education Master’s Degree & Guide

An ECE Master's Degree & Career Guide

Components of an Early Childhood Master's

A master’s degree in early childhood education (ECE) is specifically catered to those individuals in the professions of a technical assistance provider, teacher, education director, education administrator, and any individual working directly or indirectly with early childhood education. People who pursue this degree are typically seeking leadership and influential roles with room for career advancement.

Early Childhood Teaching Programs

More and more employers require early childhood master’s degrees for many early childhood education positions. These degrees can be pursued online, through a traditional physical classroom education platform, or through a combination of both. The cost of these programs will vary greatly. Online courses may save money; however, all degree programs must be accredited to benefit one’s career in the long term. It is also beneficial if the programs offer career placement, work experience, mentorship programs, and networking programs and events.

Fortunately, with the additional costs of higher degrees and years of continued education, come several perks and advantages. Recipients of this degree can expect to earn more money than, and be considered over job applicants with, a bachelor’s degree. They will receive advanced training to learn and fine-tune skills that others do not possess. And early childhood education master’s students have the ability to specialize even further for greater opportunities and career advancement.

Master’s Degree Requirements for Early Childhood Educators

While each degree program will vary based on the chosen specialization of the student, many core classes within the early childhood education sector will be similar; the following are some examples:

  • Child Growth and Development is a common core class. It has a focus centered on the positive and negative impacts of experiences from childhood and the ways in which they are linked to long-term attitudes and behaviors. The class will also analyze the understanding of various aspects of development, such as psychosocial, cognitive, and physical aspects. Students will explore current and traditional theories regarding childhood growth and development and each student will reflect upon their own experiences to practice such theories in the classroom through instruction and observation.
  • A Global Perspectives in Cultural Diversity class helps ECE students to be able to prepare for and relate with classes of increasing pupil diversity. The program participants will address the vitalness of having a global perspective pertaining to education and cultural scenarios. Students will also analyze the various effects that language and culture have on behavior and learning. They will then learn the best strategies and methodologies to be able to teach communication and social skills and curriculum as it pertains to global issues and concerns.
  • Effective UDL Classroom Practices is a course that allows students to explore research methodologies to be able to support their pupils who have far greater learning needs than the average pupil in a vast range of educational environments. Program participants will be exposed to learning, practicing and evaluating various principles to be able to support the achievements of students.

It is important to note that most master’s degrees in any education field may also require research, fieldwork, and a practicum to complete the degree program. Some fieldwork may be able to be completed at the workplace of the program participant.

Where Can I Work

People who complete a master’s degree in ECE will have a wide variety of employer types. These include:

  • Educational institutions
  • Attorneys, social services, and expert witnesses
  • Higher education on research studies and community colleges
  • Mental health offices for counseling
  • Non-profits and special needs advocates
  • Corporations as education trainers

ECE Salary & Earning Potential

The following is a list of career options with an early childhood education master’s degree and the average median salary for each:

OccupationMedian Salary
Early Childhood Education Director$63,900
Community College Instructor$48,500
Family Advocate$33,600
Curriculum Specialist $54,700
Education Administrator, Elementary, and Secondary School $69,000
Child Care Center Director $40,300
Elementary School Principal $80,000
Guidance Counselor, Elementary School $43,500
Educational Consultant $62,900
Corporate Trainer $54,600

It is important to note that a salary will vary based on the employer and state. Some states pay significantly higher than others.

Master's Specialization Options

Many graduate programs for an Early Childhood Education master’s degree are offered as a general master’s degree of education with a specialization in ECE or specialized education services (SES). Some might offer a master’s degree of arts in elementary education. Other programs offer an early childhood education masters with a choice of specialization. It is even possible to pursue a master’s degree of education in early childhood leadership and program administration or early childhood leadership and advanced teaching licensure.

Specializations will vary from school to school, and it may not be possible to obtain a specific specialization without attending physical classes at a particular university. However, today, many higher learning institutions, including some of the most reputable and traditional universities, offer master’s degrees online. It is also possible that some schools will offer master’s degrees in education with certificate programs in early childhood education or special needs education. Despite the differences in titles, all accredited programs will focus on skills required for leadership and administration roles to some degree, whether you pursue these positions, or you choose another career path.

What Can I Do with a Master's in Education

You have many options with an ECE master’s degree. One of the most popular career paths is to pursue education administration. These jobs are often more difficult to achieve due to the fact each school district only has a handful of administrators compared to dozens or hundreds of teachers. The role of an administrator is highly complex, and many people find it stressful yet rewarding. You might be responsible for hiring and supervising teachers, balancing budgets, disciplining students, creating policies and rules for the schools, planning academic calendars, handling public relations, or overseeing recruitment and admissions for students.

Family work and child protection are additional paths you could follow. Some of these positions include an early interventionist, child care consultant, inclusion specialist, home-based service provider, early childhood consultant, resource and referral specialist, or a family advocate. Many of these positions fight for access to programs that will help with the development or special needs of families and students. You might work with families to ensure their children are enrolled in the right services and activities that will benefit the quality of life and health of each child.

You might also consider education advisor positions. This might include an early childhood education counselor. As a counselor in early childhood education, you will work with a highly diverse group of families and children. Students may require your assistance due to psychological issues, emotional development concerns, or mental or physical disabilities.

Skills & Attributes You Will Learn

The skills and attributes you will learn with a master’s Early Childhood Education are likely to greatly improve your professional results. Some such skills include:

  • A sense of humor and patience are essential to being successful in ECE. The days can be exhausting due to the fact that children are highly curious, inquisitive, and full of energy by nature. Patience and a sense of humor will help professionals to inspire children to engage and focus on the lessons of the day. It will also help to alleviate stress and allow the early childhood professional to remain energized and in good spirits.

  • Creativity is essential. The attention span of young children is highly limited and new subjects can seem quite complex to their young minds and difficult to focus on. Creativity helps educators and ECE professionals to teach children without them realizing they are even learning. It is also essential to be able to adapt lessons to all children and their unique ways of absorbing, learning, and retaining information. Educators might use games or alternative teaching methodologies to keep kids focused and engaged throughout the day.

  • Early childhood educators must be able to communicate exceptionally well and with a wide range of ages. These individuals must be able to communicate with young children in a relatable manner, making challenging subjects easier to digest in a less confusing way. These individuals must also be able to communicate with parents or guardians in a calm and rational manner, even if they become upset or raise their voices after receiving feedback pertaining to the development or performance of their child that is less than ideal. Finally, early childhood educators must be able to communicate with administrators and other authoritative figures within the school and community.

  • ECE professionals must grasp and comprehend that all children are unique and different. Each child in a classroom has a different home life and family dynamic; some children may be living in the foster system, some may have non-traditional parents. It is the job of an early childhood educator to accept such differences and work with all children to determine the best learning style for their needs to be able to optimize each child’s learning experience.

Search Job Salaries

Job seekers have been telling us for a long time they only want to see jobs that pay enough and that salary is a key criterion in their job searches. Careers are full of choices and the best decisions are informed ones.

What to Expect with an ECE Master’s?

While many schools are severely lacking for qualified candidates, the best school districts and the best early childhood education jobs in the country are highly competitive. An ECE master’s degree provides you with numerous advantages in the competition for jobs with the best employers and the best pay. It gives you preference over others without a master’s degree who are also applying for your dream job. You will also have greater influence in key decisions and community respect. Keep in mind that you still have to meet other job requirements such as years of experience, specializations, and skills and attributes.

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