How to Become an Early Childhood Teacher in Arkansas

An ECE Arkansas Degree & Career Guide

Requirements for ECE Teacher Certification in Arkansas

Anyone who wants to be a teacher, and specifically wants to work to help young children get started on their educational path, will want to consider becoming a preschool teacher or an early childhood educator. In order to qualify for these positions, it will be necessary to hold a bachelor's degree and you will need to meet several other requirements put forth by the state of Arkansas. Because these teachers are working with young children, being well trained to do so helps ensure that the teachers know how to work best with them children so that their early experiences with education are good ones.

Arkansas Steps to Follow for Teachers

The demand for preschool teachers and early education providers is on the rise across the country, which has increased the need for higher education programs. If you want to become a licensed preschool teacher in Arkansas, you need to be prepared and ready to complete some of the following items:

  • Complete an Approved Degree or License Preparation Program
  • Pass All Required Exams & Assessments
    • Praxis Assessments
    • edTPA
    • Foundations of Reading Assessment
  • Apply for One of the Following
  • Standard or Provisional Arkansas Teaching License
      • Standards for Educator Licensure
      • Arkansas Educator Competencies
      • Special Education 101 Academy Course Competencies (PDF)
      • Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS) Competencies (PDF)
      • Arkansas Teaching Standards (PDF)
      • Leader Excellence and Development System (LEADS)
    • Applying for Arkansas licensure by Reciprocity
    • Non-Traditional License (TFA, MAT/MED/MTLL, APPEL - formerly ADE Non-Traditional)


    There are several steps that need to be completed in order for a person to become an early childhood educator in Arkansas. Follow the steps and outline below and you can also learn more here.

Step 1. Earn a Degree in Early Childhood Education

If you are a junior or senior in high school and you are considering this as your career path then, of course, the first step would be earning your high school diploma. If your school offers any certifications in early childhood education, then it would be highly recommended that you pursue those courses. Other courses that are available in high school will include psychology, health, English, and sociology which are all useful towards this career path. You will also want to volunteer to work with children to gain some experience. Any experience that you can gain showing that you have real and practical experience working with children will help you once you've completed some of the other qualifications that will be required. Often you can find opportunities to work in a classroom with a licensed teacher as a teacher’s assistant.

Assistant teachers will have the chance to work hand in hand with the children. They also have the chance to be involved with the children's behavioral issues as well as preparing academic material and socialization. An assistant teacher is required to always be under the supervision of a licensed teacher and this gives you the opportunity to begin gaining valuable experience.

Step 2. Complete any Required Exams

You will need to enter a college or university and pursue a degree in early childhood education. The college or university should be accredited and approved by the Arkansas Department of Education. Public schools in Arkansas require Preschool teachers to obtain a post-secondary early childhood education. Head Start schools in the state typically require the teachers to have a bachelor's degree at the minimum. Students who are studying for their bachelor's degree will have the chance to learn not only about early childhood development but also child psychology, health and safety, and nutrition. It is likely you will complete a student teaching assignment as part of your course curriculum.

Those who are preparing to be preschool teachers will be expected to complete a teacher's training program as well as earning a bachelor's degree. If you earn a BS in elementary education, then you will have the necessary degree to teach preschool through 4th grade, provided you meet all the other requirements. This will mean that you need to include in your curriculum Integrated Literacy and Language, Building Learning Environments, and Elementary Education.

Step 3. Standards and Qualifications

You will now need to start taking and passing the state certification tests. This will include the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators also known as CASE. This is an examination taken online and it demonstrates your proficiency in writing, reading, and math. You can choose whether or not to take each test individually or all at one time. In Reading, you will need to have a score of at least 156. You will need a score of 162 for the writing test and you will need to score at least a 150 in math.

The Praxis exam tests you in specific areas. This means you'll either need to take the B-K and P-4 teacher preparation which includes principles of learning and early childhood education. This test requires a score of at least 157. You may also need to take a test for Ages 3-4. If you need this endorsement, then you'll test for the education of young children and you'll need a minimum score of 160.

For those seeking K-6 in elementary education then you will need to take a mathematics test with a minimum score of 157. You will also need a science test and pass with a minimum of 159. Language arts and reading are also required and have a minimum score of 157 to pass. Finally, you will need a social studies test and you will need to score at least 155.

Some candidates may also need to take principles of learning and teaching and pass with at least 160. This would be for grades K-6. Arkansas does require background checks, and these are done through Child Maltreatment Centers for the state and through the FBI.

Step 4. Advancing in Your Career – Master’s Degrees and Endorsements

The best way to continue to grow in your career is to earn a master’s degree. You can do this by returning to school, full- or part-time, or you can take graduate courses to meet your continuing education requirements. No matter which you choose, you’ll be rewarded with increased pay and opportunities to advance.

In Arkansas, there are several ways to go about earning either a master’s or an endorsement within a specific area of teaching. These include a Master's of Arts in Teaching programs, which are approved by the Arkansas Department of Education and can include additional endorsements with just a little extra work (usually around 12 credit hours). Some of the endorsements you can earn are for ages 3-4 & grades 5-6. You can even earn an early childhood/special ed integrated add-on license or a variety of add-on licenses for different focus areas within special ed.

Popular Career Choices

  • Preschool Teacher
  • Kindergarten Teacher
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • Special Education Teacher

Accredited Arkansas Programs

The state of Arkansas has in place a certification system based on performance that is used for their educators. The certification for teachers is monitored and managed by the State Educator Licensure Unit, associated with the Arkansas Department of Education. In addition to earning a bachelor's degree, it will be necessary to complete a teacher's preparation program that is state approved. Other requirements will include having a background check as well as passing the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching Assessment.

Once a teacher has satisfactorily completed all these requirements, then they will be given a teaching license that is good for 3 years. These initial three years are considered to be an induction period for the new teacher. During this time, you will work with a teacher who is experienced, and they will be your mentor. At the end of this period, you will then be eligible to apply for a provisional professional teaching license.

Once you have your PPT license you will then need to successfully complete 24 hours of pedagogy training. You will also need to get evaluations for each of the three years you have your provisional license. For those who successfully complete all these requirements, they will be eligible to convert their license to a standard educator license that will be good for 5 years.

Accredited Preparation Programs

The good news when it comes to choosing a college or university to earn your teaching degree, is the fact that there are over three dozen accredited colleges and universities from which to do so within the state of Arkansas. Half of these will allow you to earn an associate's degree in education while the others will allow you to go ahead and earn your bachelor's degree. Just under a dozen have master’s degrees and other advanced degrees available in education.

Within the state of Arkansas, one college was ranked by Kiplinger among the best values in public colleges in recent years. The state has 16 teacher programs that are not for profit and are accredited by the CAEP, the TEAC, and the NCATE. The University of Arkansas has been rated in the top 100 universities in the U.S. and there are numerous others that will offer a suitable degree and that may be in an area near you.

Some of the universities that are fully accredited by recognized accreditation organizations include Arkansas State University, Henderson State University, John Brown University, Arkansas Tech University, Southern Arkansas University, Williams Baptist College, University of the Ozarks, and several others.

  • Harding University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Early Childhood Special Education M.S.
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching B.S.
    • Educational Leadership and Administration M.S.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching B.S. and M.S.
    • Speech Teacher B.S.
    • ESL Teacher M.S.
    • School Counseling and Guidance Services M.S.
    • Many bachelor’s degrees dealing with specialized subject teaching degrees

    Accreditation By: General Accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission

  • Arkansas State University

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance; Master’s & Post-grad Certificate
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s & Master’s
    • Education and Teaching of Individuals in Early Childhood Special Education Programs; Post-grad Certificate
    • Education and Teaching of Individuals with Speech or Language Impediments; Post-grad Certificate
    • Educational Leadership and Administration; Doctorate
    • Elementary and Middle School Administration/Principalship; Master’s & Post-grad Certificate
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Master’s
    • Reading Teacher Education; Master’s & Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s & Master’s

    Accreditation By: General Accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission

  • University of Arkansas

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services M.S.
    • General Education B.S.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching B.S. and M.S.
    • Kindergarten/Preschool Education and Teaching B.S.
    • Special Education and Teaching B.S. and M.S.

    Accreditation By: General Accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission

  • Ouachita Baptist University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Early Childhood Education and teaching B.S.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching B.S.
    • Physical Education Teaching and Coaching B.S.
    • Speech Teacher B.S.

    Accreditation By: General Accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission

  • John Brown University

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance M.S.
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching B.S.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching B.S.
    • Some bachelor’s for specialized subject teaching degrees.

    Accreditation By: General Accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission

  • University of Central Arkansas

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance M.S.
    • General Education M.S., Educational Administration and Supervision M.S.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching B.S.
    • Kindergarten/Preschool Education and Teaching B.S.
    • Physical Education Teaching and Coaching B.S.
    • Reading Teacher M.S.
    • Special Education and Teaching B.S. and M.S.

    Accreditation By: General Accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, Programmatic accreditation by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology

Career Options and Salary Info for Teachers

The wages for preschool teachers can range anywhere from $8.60 per hour up to just under $24 and it is determined by a number of factors. On average, preschool teachers will start off at somewhere around $18,000 and an average preschool teacher with some experience typically earns close to $32,000 a year. Experienced teachers can earn up to $48,000 or $49,000 a year. Some of the factors that will determine where your wage or salary falls include how much experience you have, the area where you are applying to be a teacher, your level of education, and whether or not you are applying at a public or private facility.

OccupationEntry-LevelMid-Career / AverageLate-Career
Preschool Teacher$22,600$23,500$45,600
Elementary School Teacher$43,500$49,000$60,000
Professor of Education$63,000$72,800$118,500
Elementary School Principal$73,500$78,100$86,500
Special Education Teacher$41,100$45,100$59,300
School Psychologist$43,000$55,000$64,000

Arkansas Preschool Teacher Careers Options

The obvious career path for someone with this degree would be to teach preschool or elementary School. But this isn't the only career path available for those with this type of degree. Other career opportunities would include such things as being the director of a child care center. This position would require the management of day-to-day operations within a Child Care Center or daycare.

Someone in this position would be responsible for not only preparing programs for the children but also working with the staff and making sure that they are trained and that they uphold the objectives and standards of the company you work for. It would also mean working with parents as well as performing other administrative tasks.

There's also an opportunity to work within a home-based service. This would mean working sometimes one-on-one or in other situations would mean working with several children but through a home-based service. This provides parents and children with the opportunity to get an early education in the convenience and comfort of their own home. It is also possible to become a consultant in helping families develop ideas to meet the various needs of their children. It is common for parents to feel all alone in this pursuit and the advantage of having an experienced consultant can be very advantageous.

Projections suggest that more than 12% of current teachers will be lost over the next decade. This means that there will be a growing need for this career. Here are some more options for positions you can hold with a degree in early childhood education.

Public Schools –
All states have a public-school system, which provides a K-12 education for all residents of the state. If you choose to become a teacher in a public school, you will have to earn at least a bachelor’s in order to run your own classroom. These schools have strictly structure pay scales, and so, you may have to earn a higher degree to earn a significantly higher salary.

Private Schools –
Private schools often are faith-based, or they may try to provide a more specialized form of K-12 education. Either way, teachers in private schools often make significantly less than their public-school counterparts.

Head-Start Programs –
These programs exist to give a leg up to very young students, allowing them to attend an early-learning environment in lieu of a basic daycare facility.

Community-based programs –
These programs are often only run part of the year, either during the summer or as a counter-part to a regular schoolyear education. Pay for these positions depends on the community, if they are running it, or the non-profit. These programs usually have a STEM focus and are hands-on learning experiences, meant to engage children in new forms of learning.

Faith-based programs –
These programs can range from teaching English to non-English speaking families, including children, to similar STEM-based activities you might encounter in community programs. You can likely expect the pay to be lower than those community or non-profit positions and expect a certain amount of proselytizing.

Videos To Help You Find The Right Career Choices

  • A Day in the Life - Preschool Teacher

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOuvns_664c

  • Preschool Shark Math Lesson

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7n7yX5fmRc

  • Rancho Cucamonga Career Video - Preschool Teacher

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sW7IQWhJo8o

  • Reality PD | Pre-School | Explain content clearly

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VD-aiOeZc84

  • Early Childhood Educator is a Rewarding Career

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-WquPXglak

  • Occupational Video - Early Childhood Educator

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

Find Preschool Teacher and Early Childhood Education Jobs in Arkansas

Obtaining Financial Aid for The Pursuit of Your Degree

Paying for college is a concern shared by most who go. Very few are able to go to college without having to worry about how they are going to pay for it. This means that in an ideal situation you will start preparing in your junior year of high school. You should investigate any and all grants and other financial aid that might be available to you and make sure that you participate in any type of pursuit that might make you a better-qualified candidate to receive grants or financial aid.

Although it might seem time-consuming, there are students who gain a great deal of assistance by taking the necessary time to apply for everything they can. The state of Arkansas specifically puts out a variety of grants for the purpose of higher education. These are often subject-specific. Very often these are sub-fields within education. In addition to these, there are additional financial aid opportunities for those who either demonstrate personal characteristics or who qualify based on their own specific financial needs.

Read More

Get The Steps to Become a Teacher Start You Career Path Today

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