How to Become an Early Childhood Teacher in South Dakota

An ECE South Dakota Degree & Career Guide

Requirements for ECE Teacher Certification in South Dakota

South Dakota ranks among the top for states where parents who have children under six are active in the workforce. This means that parents are stressed trying to care for their children while meeting their employer's demands. This creates a real need in the state for Early Childhood Education. Kids need a safe, stable place where they can learn and grow while their parents are not available.

South Dakota ranks among the top for states where parents who have children under six are active in the workforce. This means that parents are stressed trying to care for their children while meeting their employer's demands. This creates a real need in the state for Early Childhood Education. Kids need a safe, stable place where they can learn and grow while their parents are not available.

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South Dakota Steps to Follow for Teachers

The very first step to becoming a Preschool Teacher in South Dakota is having a passion for teaching children. You must love kids and be ready to dedicate your life to helping them learn and grow. Once you have made this very important decision, you can get started.

Like most states, South Dakota has three basic steps to becoming a teacher. First you need to complete a bachelor's degree from an accredited, state-approved teacher preparation program, then pass a qualifying examination, and lastly you need to submit a background check. Here are the specifics:

Step 1. Earn Your Degree

This is the biggest step along your way to your own classroom. Seek out the best program you can that is regionally accredited. You'll need to complete a student teaching experience as part of your degree, and the state requires that you also take and pass a course in South Dakotan Indian Studies to become familiar with the native peoples indigenous to the region. Note that you must have your program send official transcripts to the state board.

Now, as to what degree you need, that is not as cut and dry with South Dakota as it is with most states. You should definitely consider earning a bachelor’s degree, as that will give you the most options when it comes to employment, and will make you a preferred candidate, even for positions where a bachelor’s is not necessary. However, there are positions in South Dakota that do not require a bachelor’s degree, such as certain preschools, private and public, and some Head Start positions. No matter which option you choose, you will need to complete a teacher preparation program that culminates in your degree.

Upon graduation, and as part of your application, you should have a prominent person from your program send the state a letter of recommendation. In some programs, this person is the dean of the College of Education. Other, smaller programs bestow this duty on the department chairperson or some other prominent faculty member.

Step 2. Pass Your Exams

Like many states, South Dakota requires that you take a Praxis subject content test in order to qualify for your specific license. All beginning teachers have to take one fo the following: PPAT Assessment, Principles of Learning and Teaching: (Early childhood OR Grades K-6). To be certified in Early Childhood Education, you should take the ‘Education of Young Children’ exam. The test is comprised of six parts:

  • Childhood Development and Learning – 17%
  • Observation, Documentation, and Assessment – 13%
  • Developmentally Appropriate Practices – 13%
  • Professionalism, Family, and Community – 13%
  • Content Pedagogy and Knowledge – 24%
  • Knowledge of Teaching – 20%

If you wish to expand your scope, you can take the PRAXIS, ‘Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects’ exam. This will qualify you to teach in a self-contained classroom for ages K-4th Grade. The test is comprised of four sub-tests and you must pass all four to qualify for your South Dakota credential:

  • Reading and Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Step 3. Standards and Qualifications

The final piece of your application is the background check and fingerprinting documentation you need to supply to the Board. Depending on where you work, you could have a variety of requirements to maintain your teaching license, however, keeping the Early Childhood Education License active will require you to complete6 credits of professional education every 5 years. These will likely need to be taken from a college or university and you can use these credits to work toward the completion of a master’s degree program. Other employment requirements may include a number of hours in the Division of Child Care Services training.

Popular Career Choices

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

Accredited South Dakota Programs

Professional Teaching Certificate:
This will be your first full certificate and it will cover your work in the classroom.

Advanced Teaching Certificate:
After five total years in the classroom, including time spent with an alternative certificate, and an advanced degree, you can attain this higher-level certificate.

Provisional Certificate:
You may receive a provisional certificate if you have completed all of the requirements for becoming fully-certified except for passing the South Dakota Indian Studies course. You’ll need to take the course before you are granted full certification.

Accredited Early Childhood Educator Teacher Preparation Programs

While your coursework will certainly be important, it must be accredited to actually count. That is, if the South Dakota Board hasn't approved of your program, you will need to repeat courses, if not your entire degree. If you choose to attend an out-of-state university for your teacher-preparation program, ensure that their state school board approves the program. South Dakota will accept degrees from out-of-state, provided all other requirements are met.

  • Augustana University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Hearing Impairments Including Deafness; Bachelor’s
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s

    Accreditation By:

    • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
    • Council on Education of the Deaf
    • The Higher Learning Commission
  • Dakota State University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s

    Accreditation By:

    • Higher Learning Commission
    • Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
    • South Dakota Department of Education
  • University of South Dakota

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; Master’s, Dr., & Post-grad Certificate
    • Curriculum and Instruction; Master’s, Dr., & Post-grad Certificate
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s & Master’s
    • Reading Teacher Education; Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s & Master’s

    Accreditation By:

    • National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
    • Higher Learning Commission
  • University of Sioux Falls

    Degrees Offered:

    • Educational Leadership and Administration; Master’s
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • Reading Teacher Education; Master’s
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    • Superintendency and Educational Administration; Master’s

    Accreditation By:

    • Higher Learning Commission
    • The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
    • South Dakota Department of Education

Specialization Additional Certifications

Special Education: With this certificate, you can teach students who have any sort of learning difficulty. Whether they be profoundly disabled or are exceptionally bright but have dyslexia, you can help them thrive and succeed.

Reading: You can qualify as a Reading Specialist or to teach reading by taking the appropriate Praxis subject test. The state may require additional college credits for this specialty area.

English as a Second Language: The corresponding Praxis test for this specialty is called Elementary English as a New Language.

Career Options and Salary Info for Teachers

Public Schools:
This is perhaps the most popular option for teachers in South Dakota. Public Schools generally offer good salaries, benefits, and resources. There are also opportunities for Early Childhood Educators in every town. In fact, there are often multiple public elementary and preschools available. Naturally, you will need a state credential to work in public schools, but once you have that you can enjoy a long career.

Private Childcare:
This is a great option for those who would rather have a more flexible schedule or find more variety in their working life. Some families will want a childcare professional who can give their kids a cognitive jump start with reading lessons, exposure to foreign languages, or arts education. You may also have to drive the kids to activities and take more of a caregiver role, but the holistic nature of the position could be gratifying and effective for everyone.

Private Schools:
While private schools don't often pay as well as public schools, they do offer many advantages. You will likely have smaller classes, more freedom with your curriculum, and your administration will be more streamlined and accessible. That is, you won't ever need to worry with problems in the state system when you can walk across the hall to discuss an issue with your headmaster. Oftentimes, private schools have more of a family atmosphere than an institutional feeling.

Head Start Programs:
This federal program has been successful since its inception in 1965. This program runs preschools under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services and provides much needed support to low-income families whose children need an educational and emotional boost. Head Start doesn't always insist that you have a state teaching credential, but you will surely find more success if you have a state-approved teacher-prep degree.

Community-based Programs:
These programs are perhaps the most informal route you can take as an Early Childhood Educator. They don't require state licensure and they often are often concerned with specific activities such as pee-wee soccer, arts, or even theater. If you are in college working towards a teaching certificate, you might pursue a part-time job in a community-based program to help you gain experience in the field or with a particular age group.

Faith-based Programs:
If you wish to integrate your religious faith into your working life, you should seek out a faith-based program. These programs are most often found as part of larger churches that manage preschools but are also found as stand-alone institutions. Investigate the faith-based programs in your area to ensure that you teach in one that aligns with your specific belief system.

Military Programs:
U.S. military bases worldwide are in need of teachers to educate the sons and daughters of our uniformed soldiers. If you attain a South Dakota teacher's license you qualify to teach on any military base on the globe. While you might not be able to pick your first-choice base, you can also be transferred to your optimal location later in your career, whether that be in Japan, Germany, or Hawaii.

Early Childhood Education Teaching Salaries in South Dakota

Preschool Teacher:
Teaching toddlers can be one of the most touching, hilarious, and rewarding jobs you'll ever do. Some turn preschool teaching into their life's work. If you wish to launch a career in Early Childhood Education, this is the occupation for you.

Elementary School Teacher:
Once you have a full teaching credential, you can take charge of a classroom in one of South Dakota's public elementary schools. Whether you're teaching little ones in K-3 or older kids, your days will be infinitely rewarding.

Professor of Education:
If you would rather dedicate your time to teaching budding educators or conducting educational research, consider a master's degree or higher. In fact, to attain a full-time tenure-track position you will certainly need a doctoral degree.

School Principal:
After significant tenure in the classroom, a master's degree (or greater), and passing scores on the requisite PRAXIS test you can move up into school administration. This is a great position for leaders who wish to mentor teachers, guide curriculum, and steer education from a higher vantage point.

Special Education Teacher:
This educational specialty is often alluring because it tends to pay better than regular teaching. However, this is very difficult work. Consider that for every student you must create a detailed Individual Education Plan (IEP) and then codify that plan with the students’ parents and another professional.

ESL Teacher:
Students from all nations come to the United States to learn and become contributing members of our society. You can help them assimilate to our English-dominated society by helping them master the language.

School Psychologist:
To become a School Psychologist, you will need at least a master's degree. Once you are employed in a school, you will find that students rely on you to help them overcome the various struggles associated with growing up. Some may even be facing profound difficulties at home or from their peers.

OccupationEntry-LevelMid-CareerLate-Career
Preschool Teacher$27,300$31,200$34,200
Elementary School Teacher $38,000 $47,900 $71,600
Professor of Education$60,100$73,400 $100,000
School Principal$73,500$79,100 $86,400
Special Education Teacher$35,300 $49,500 $55,300
ESL Teacher $40,700 $45,600 $53,300
School Psychologist $54,200 $61,000 $73,000

Videos To Help You Find The Right Career Choices

  • Why Special Education?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3YwKIqlCsw

  • Teach Special Education

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XsaK3pWyII

  • A day in the life of a Special Education teacher

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qh1meBo_m1w

  • Co-Teaching Model for Special Education

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pIe6CZX6PM

  • What makes a good teacher great? | Azul Terronez | TEDxSantoDomingo

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrU6YJle6Q4

  • Differentiated Instruction in the Classroom at Mesquite Elementary School

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7kcFkRgiV4

Find Preschool Teacher and Early Childhood Education Jobs in South Dakota

Why Teach?

Teaching, and education in general, is one of the oldest and most noble professions. In fact, teaching is a fundamental part of being human. After all, humans need to pass along knowledge to ensure that their offspring succeed, no matter what the environment contains. Nowadays, we need to learn many skills and still navigate our psychosocial development. For that reason, special people are called to the teaching profession, where they devote their lives to ensuring that skills and knowledge are passed along. They also strive impart cultural knowledge that helps maintain a unified populace.

You'll know if the profession is for you. When you receive that message, seek out the best South Dakota education department for you, apply, and enroll. The future begins today!

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

If you have a passion for working with young children and want to become an educator, check out the steps necessary to advance your teaching career.

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