How to Become an Early Childhood Teacher in Iowa

An ECE Iowa Degree & Career Guide

Requirements for ECE Teacher Certification in Iowa

Job growth for preschool teachers in Iowa is expected to be 1.1% annually through 2026, according to the Iowa Workforce Development. This is greater than the average projected growth rate for all Iowa jobs. These individuals work with children the ages of five and under to help develop and prepare them for their full-time education experience starting in kindergarten.

Iowa has a unique program that works to ensure all children have the best chance at success from birth. The 38 local boards of the Early Childhood Iowa programs work to provide health, education, and education services to all families, early childhood professionals, and children in each Iowa county. They are funded by the School Ready state funds.

Iowa Steps to Follow for Teachers

Preschool teachers are a critical component to the long-term educational success of Iowa students. Iowa believes that all children from the time of birth should have access to education and health; therefore, preschool services are offered to every single child in Iowa to ensure they meet developmental goals and do not get left behind once they begin kindergarten.

If you want to become an early childhood education teacher in Iowa, you will be required to complete a bachelor’s degree in education. You do not necessarily have to complete an early childhood education degree. During your teaching degree program, you will also be required to complete teacher preparation courses as required by the State of Iowa.

And do not forget that all prospective teachers must pass an extensive background check because you will be working with children. Most programs at Iowa colleges and universities also require a number of hours working directly with students in the classroom. You might even have the opportunity to pursue mentorship programs starting in year two and internships at schools or businesses.

Step 1. Earn Your Degree

Most individuals who complete a bachelor’s degree outside of the state of Iowa must do so from a regionally accredited school to be considered for a position. It is also possible that applicants for preschool positions who did not graduate with a degree from an Iowa school may have to complete the same Iowa Educator Preparation Program that all education graduates from Iowa colleges and universities must complete during their undergraduate degrees.

The program requires a course that examines interpersonal relations, intergroup relations, and diverse lifestyles. It also requires a course that reviews students with disabilities and gifted students. All program participants must have 160 days of experience teaching or six college credits relating to the subject matter. Again, remember that teaching experience is directly dependent upon completing an extensive background check.

Step 2. Complete Required Exams

Prospective preschool teachers will have to complete several exams before they can become licensed to ensure that program participants are prepared to teach and care for children. The following are the exam requirements:

  • Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT): Early Childhood Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education
  • Early Childhood: Content Knowledge
  • edTPA: Elementary Literacy or Mathematics or Combination
  • edTPA: Early Childhood

Step 3. Apply for Your Initial License

Once these exams are successfully completed, prospective teachers must apply for an initial license. This license is only valid for two years. It is during this trial period that new teachers will complete their required mentoring program and an induction program. This will occur alongside the completion of two complete years of teaching experience. The experience must be deemed to meet or exceed the standards set forth for teachers in Iowa. After this part of the process is over, a teacher can apply for a standard license.

Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your Teaching License

Iowa requires continuing education for preschool teachers every five years. Preschool teachers must complete an additional six credits as part of their continuing education requirements to renew their standard license for teaching. Teachers can choose from a number of accredited college courses, certificate programs, actively participate as a mentor, or take Iowa licensure renewal courses

Popular Career Choices

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

Accredited Iowa Programs

Iowa continually has one of the highest high school graduation rates in the country. The state is often the highest. The state contributes its success with reaching children as early as possible with education and development. Much of this success is due to early childhood education and preschool programs. As a result, early childhood education programs at colleges in universities in Iowa have far more stringent guidelines and specialized state preparation programs than most states to ensure success for both students and teachers. And as such, all prospective preschool teachers must graduate from a regionally accredited college or university.

If you transfer to an Iowa college or university from outside of the state, your credits will most likely transfer if they are from a regionally accredited school. If your credits are from a nationally accredited university, they may not be accepted as credits at an Iowa education degree program.

Below are five schools that offer a Teacher Education Program.

  • Iowa State University

    Iowa State University has the only bachelor’s degree in early childhood education of all the major universities in Iowa. A bachelor’s degree program in early childhood education at Iowa State focuses on preparing program participants to teach young children, from birth through grade three. The courses will prepare students to teach both general classes and special education classes. Ames, the town in which Iowa State University is located, has several of the best preschool and elementary schools in the state.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
    • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education
    • Master’s Degree in Social and Cultural Studies in Education
    • Master’s Degree in Literacy
    • Master’s Degree in Special Education
    • Doctoral Degree in P-12 Systems Level Leadership
    • Doctoral Degree in Social and Cultural Studies in Education
    • Doctoral Degree in Literacy
    • Doctoral Degree in Special Education

    Accreditation By:

    • Iowa State University - Higher Learning Commission
    • Administrative Preparation Program - Iowa Department of Education
    • Child Development Laboratory School - National Association for the Education of Young Children
    • Educator Preparation Programs - Iowa Department of Education
    • Financial Counseling and Planning and Planning Education - Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education
    • Financial Counseling and Planning Standards - Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards
  • Central College

    Central College is a small, private college where program participants can benefit from small class sizes and a tremendous amount of hands-on experience. Central students are encouraged to join the Central Teaching Academy to be paired with a mentor for even greater real-life experience years before student teaching begins. The college even boasts that nearly 100% of all education majors find employment within 6 months of graduating. They also offer graduate placement assistance for graduate degrees and internship programs for education majors in the US and Mexico.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelors’ Degree in Elementary Education

    Accreditation By:

    • Central College - The Higher Learning Commission
    • Member of the North Central Association
  • Drake University

    Drake University has a list of impressive statistics in their education department. This includes 98% of all education graduates finding a job within the first 6 months of graduating, 99% passing the required teaching and licensure tests, and 85% of education undergraduates graduating within 4 years. They provide both degree programs and continuing education courses. The continuing education courses are important to note given that this is a requirement for teachers in Iowa.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education
    • Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis
    • Master’s Degree in Leadership Development
    • Master’s Degree in Counseling
    • Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Administration
    • Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Placement
    • Master’s Degree in Education Leadership
    • Master’s Degree in Literacy Education
    • Master’s Degree in Effective Teaching
    • Master’s Degree in Special Education
    • Master’s Degree in STEM
    • Master’s Degree in Teacher Effectiveness and Professional Development
    • Doctoral in Education in Educational Leadership
    • Doctoral in Philosophy in Education
    • Doctoral in Education Administration with Superintendent Licensure.

    Accreditation By:

    • Drake University - Higher Learning Commission
    • Member of the North Central Association
  • University of Iowa

    While the University of Iowa does not have a dedicated early childhood education degree program, the elementary education program is highly extensive in literacy, special education, and much more. The University of Iowa teaching programs place emphasis on learning and education as a human right to all children and that education should help students to become upstanding, global citizens.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education
    • Master’s Degree in Developmental Reading
    • Master’s Degree in Special Education
    • Master’s Degree in Foreign Language and ESL Education
    • Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, with or without Principal Licensure
    • Doctoral Degree in Special Education
    • Doctoral Degree in Foreign Language and ESL Education
    • Doctoral Degree in Language, Literacy and Culture
    • Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership

    Accreditation By:

    • University of Iowa - Higher Learning Commission
    • Member of the North Central Association
  • University of Northern Iowa

    The University of Northern Iowa has a dedicated college of education which includes: early childhood, elementary, middle level or high school teaching, special education, literacy education, school librarian, school psychologist and school administrator programs. UNI provides students several degree level options in early childhood education for bachelor's and master's programs in Iowa.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
    • Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education
    • Bachelor's Degree in Middle Level Education
    • Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education
    • Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
    • Master’s Degree in Elementary Education
    • Master's Degree in Literacy Education
    • Master's Degree in Physical Education
    • Doctoral Degree in Education

    Accreditation By:

    • University of Northern Iowa - Higher Learning Commission

Career Options and Salary Info for Teachers

Many people who become a preschool teacher feel incredibly rewarded and would not like to do anything else. If you do decide that you want to make more money or take on additional roles and responsibilities, attaining additional degrees and certificates is an exceptional way to improve your career prospects in the future. You might decide that you want to become an administrator or school psychologist one day. These careers require experience in grade schools and higher degrees.

Specializations and additional certifications help preschool teachers to better serve their entire class or to work with a unique set of children. All children develop at their own pace and some are born with additional needs. Some of those children may require additional assistance with behavioral, emotional or physical development. In Iowa, specializations are offered at the degree level through minors, electives and more. It is also possible to pursue additional early childhood education certifications to advance one’s career and pay grade.

Other specializations also exist, such as in literacy, mathematics, social and cultural studies, English as a second language, science and much more.

Early Childhood Education Teaching Salaries in Iowa

Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Preschool Teacher $11.25/hr. $11.49/hr. 11.79/hr.
Elementary School Teacher $38,000 $47,900 $71,600
Professor of Education $54,500 $58,400 $115,800
Elementary School Principal $83,000 N/A $127,100
Special Education Teacher $39,800 $44,300 $50,400
School Psychologist $54,200 $61,000 $73,200

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