How to Become an Early Childhood Teacher in Georgia

An ECE Georgia Degree & Career Guide

Requirements for ECE Teacher Certification in Georgia

After a long struggle to gain academic progress, Georgia is among the top ten states that received high scores for their early childhood education program. It also received a $4 billion fund from the Race to the Top program funded by the US government. Because of this, the state opens the door to many opportunities for those who want to pursue a career in early childhood education. Becoming an Early Childhood Educator can be a rewarding career path for the right candidates and people that have a real desire to teach young children

Georgia Steps to Follow for Teachers

Step 1. Get your Degree

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) is responsible for approving educator preparation programs in Georgia. Programs that they approve require a student teaching or education practicum in a Georgia School. As in most states, Georgia requires that their public-school teachers hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

The majority of educator preparation programs will take you through a bachelor’s degree program. However, there are options in you’ve already earned a bachelor’s and don’t want to take the time to earn another. If you are interested in continuing your education, you could enter a teacher preparation program that proffers a master’s degree upon completion. If you are looking to start teaching as soon as possible, you can complete a certificate-only program which will make you eligible for a teaching licensure without earning a second degree.

Please note that the GaPSC does not allow you to be a lead preschool teacher unless you have completed an accepted program such as: Infant/Child and Family Development, Special Education, Family and Consumer Science, Child Development, Early Childhood Care and Education, etc. They will accept a degree in Psychology or Social work if you also have: a Montessori diploma, a CDA (Child Development Associate) credential, An associate degree in Early Childhood Education, A technical college diploma majoring in ECE, or a technical certificate of credit majoring in ECE.

Step 2. Apply for Induction Certificate

Having completed a preparation program in Georgia, you will then need to apply for your Induction Certificate. This will last for around 3 years and cannot be applied for until you are employed at a school. You will be sent a Certificate of Eligibility upon completion of an approved program so that you will be hirable.

At this point the process gets complicated, with different paths for those who complete their program in Georgia, complete them elsewhere but student teach in Georgia, move from out-of-state with their state’s teacher licenses, or are hired to teach before completing their prep program. We’ll focus on the first and last.

If you complete your program in Ga, you must have certain qualifications to move forward with your licensure and receive your Induction Certificate: documentation of approved-program completion, a passing GACE (Georgia Assessment for the Certification of Educators) score, a passing Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment score, a passing edTPA (a subject-specific assessment) and GACE content assessment score, and you must have completed a course in identifying and educating exceptional children.

For those go-getters who are looking to be hired while still completing your preparation program, there is a specific list of requirements for you to receive your Induction Certificate as well. You must already have earned a bachelor’s degree (within the last 10 years), so this is only an option for those earning a second bachelor’s, a master’s, or a post-graduate certification in teaching. Your other requirements include: a passing GACE and GACE content assessment score, a passing Georgia Educator Ethics Assessment score, and if you want to move forward to the Professional Certificate you must first finish the remainder of your state-approved educator preparation courses and all other requirements.

Step 3. Apply for Your Professional Certificate

After having your Induction Certificate for 3 years, and 3 years of continuous teaching experience, you are ready to apply for your Professional Certificate. This will be valid for a full 5 years and can be renewed. If you did not meet the professional certification requirement, you can renew your Induction Certificate.

In order to maintain your certification in Georgia, you will need to gain continuing education credit in the form of 10 Ga Professional Learning Units, 6 credit hours of college-level courses, or 10 Continuing Education Units. These must be completed before you can renew your Professional Certificate.

Popular Career Choices

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

Accredited Georgia Programs

For initial certification, the Georgia Department of Education utilizes the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) to conduct tests in order to find out the readiness of the candidates to teach young children.

There is no exemption for this Content Assessment of GACE. Candidates must pass the assessment to obtain certification. They also need to pass the Educator Ethics Exam, a pre-service certification in the state of Georgia.

  • Induction Certificate

    To apply, you need to comply with the following requirements:

    • Submit an Application for Certification
    • Submit a complete and notarized Verification of Lawful Presence Documentation form
    • Submit a complete Employer Assurance Form
    • Request an official transcript from your university or college to be sent to GaPSC
  • Professional Certificate

    The only requirement to obtain a Professional Certificate is to have three- year teaching experience.

    It is also important to maintain your own Georgia’s Educator Certification by completing at least one of these requirements:

    • 10 continuing education units from a GaPSC-approved university or college
    • 10 Georgia PLU’s
    • 6 hours of college coursework in one semester

    For those employed in the public schools in Georgia, the renewal of your certificate is accomplished electronically through your employer’s teaching system.

Accredited Early Childhood Educator Teacher Preparation Programs

The most crucial step to becoming a preschool teacher in Georgia is to attend an approved teacher preparation program in any of the accredited college or university within the state. The accreditation comes from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC), though most schools accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), a regional accreditation body which serves the state, are acceptable.

Schools offering Georgia teacher preparation programs can also get accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This nationally-recognized agency was established during the consolidation of Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) and National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). CAEP accreditation is not mandatory, but it is highly regarded as a distinguished standard in teaching excellence.

Quick facts:

  • There are 64 universities and colleges in Georgia offering teacher degree programs.
  • There are 42 universities and colleges offering a bachelor’s degree in education.
  • There are 25 universities and colleges offering an associate’s degree in education.
  • There are 25 universities and colleges offering an advanced degree or master in education.
  • There are 26 non-profit teacher programs which are accredited by CAEP, NCATE, or TEAC.
  • The University of Georgia

    It tied for the 20th spot of the best universities in the country in 2010 US News & World Reports. It offers bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and a doctorate in early childhood education.

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; MS. & Post-grad Certificate
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; BS., MS., & Post-grad Certificate
    • Education, General; MS.
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Specific Learning Disabilities; Post-grad Certificate
    • Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research; Post-grad Certificate
    • Educational Leadership and Administration; MS., Dr., & Post-grad Certificate
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Dr.
    • Reading Teacher Education; MS., Dr., & Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; BS., MS., Dr., & Post-grad Certificate

    Accreditation By: Regional Accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

  • Georgia State University

    As the leading urban research school in the Southeast, Georgia State University has world-class teaching staff serving a diverse group of students. It offers doctorate, master’s, and bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education (from pre-K through 5).

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; MS., Dr., & Post-grad Certificate
    • Curriculum and Instruction; Dr.
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; MS.
    • Education, General; Dr.
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Multiple Disabilities; MS.
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Orthopedic and Other Physical Health Impairments; MS.
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Speech or Language Impairments; MS.
    • Kindergarten/Preschool Education and Teaching; BS., MS., Dr., & Post-grad Certificate
    • Physical Education Teaching and Coaching; BS. & MS.
    • Reading Teacher Education; MS.
    • Special Education and Teaching; MS. & Dr.

    Accreditation By: Regional Accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges; School psychology program accredited by the American Psychological Association, Commission on Accreditation; Education program accredited by NCATE

  • Kennesaw State University

    This university is Georgia’s leading producer of mentors. It offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in early childhood education programs from pre-K through five. It is the only university with a bachelor’s degree in Montessori “Birth through Five” program.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Administration of Special Education; MS. Dr., & Post-grad Certificate
    • Curriculum and Instruction; Post-grad Certificate
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; BS., Dr., & Post-grad Certificate
    • Educational Administration and Supervision; MS.
    • Educational Leadership and Administration; MS.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Physical Education Teaching and Coaching; BS.
    • Reading Teacher Education; MS.
    • Special Education and Teaching; MS.

    Accreditation By: Regional Accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges; Montessori program accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education; Education program accredited by NCATE

  • Berry College

    This college holds the record of being the largest contiguous campus in the world. It was founded in 1902 by Martha Berry. It is a coed college offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in early childhood education for people who want to pursue teaching. It has its own Childhood Development Center, allowing students to apply their learning with children of the nearby communities.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Curriculum and Instruction; MS.
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Reading Teacher Education; MS.
    • Superintendency and Educational System Administration; MS.

    Accreditation By: Regional Accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges; Education program accredited by NCA

Career Options and Salary Info for Teachers

Public Schools –
These schools hire a vast number of certified preschool teachers to teach early childhood development programs. They are funded by the state. The basic requirement to apply for a teaching position in these schools is a State Teacher Certification (a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or any similar degree).

Private Childcare –
These locally-operated schools are owned by licensed private individuals.

Private Schools –
These learning institutions are managed by private organizations and require learners to pay tuition fees. Many of them offer enhancement programs like a second language, along with a comprehensive preschool program.

Head Start Program –
Head Start was established to provide the needs of low-income families and their children in 1965. It is funded and administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start Bureau.
The primary objective of this program is to deliver free services to eligible beneficiaries which include preschool education for three-year-old children. The program is done in a group setting, and the teaching staff works on specific schedules.

Community-based Program –
In Georgia, there is a national Communities in Schools (CIS) system that works to improve the academic performance of learners across the state. CIS employs teachers, tutors, and volunteers to provide in-school and after-school programs, career preparation, mentoring, and tutoring. It also ensures the delivery of “CIS Model” which has long-term sustainability, fidelity, and scalability.

Faith-based Programs –
These schools offer a comprehensive development program with religious education. They are often located in churches and other religious institutions. Their funds come from church members.

Military Programs –
The government provides financial aid to students from Georgia who want to pursue a career in the military. This aid is in the form of loans, grants, or subsidies from the federal fund. The institutions train teens to develop their core values such as respect and discipline.

Early Childhood Education Teaching Salaries in Georgia

Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Preschool Teacher $25,000 $26,500 $29,500
Elementary School Teacher $42,800 $47,400 $61,700
Professor of Education $49,000 $88,000 $191,000
Special Education Teacher $32,400 $40,600 $51,500
School Psychologist $54,200 $61,000 $73,200

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Find Preschool Teacher and Early Childhood Education Jobs in Georgia

Job opportunities in the state of Georgia continue to increase. If you have the basic degree and are ready to enhance your knowledge of early childhood education, Georgia is the best place to jumpstart your teaching career.

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