How to Become an Early Childhood Teacher in Texas

An ECE Texas Degree & Career Guide

Requirements for ECE Teacher Certification in Texas

Texas takes preschool for all children seriously with a number of organizations, such as Texas Head Start, Texas Early Learning Council, Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System, Texas Association for the Education of Young Children, Texans Care for Children, and the Children’s Defense Fund - Texas. These organizations are dedicated to both young children and their teachers. To provide young Texans with the best opportunities for success in the long term, Texas has approved a number of colleges and universities to provide early childhood education (ECE) degrees.

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Texas Steps to Follow for Teachers

The Texas Education Agency provides all the information one requires to become a certified ECE preschool teacher in Texas. It is important to note that your requirements do not end once you complete your licensure. Current teachers must also complete a number of requirements to remain a teacher. You will also be required to complete a criminal background check that includes fingerprinting. Texas is quite flexible in allowing individuals to become teachers in the state who have completed the proper education and preparation requirements in another state.

Step 1. Earn Your Degree

In order to gain a teaching license in Texas, you will require at least a bachelor’s degree. You must complete a degree from an approved and accredited college or university as per the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Some positions will require a master’s degree or a doctoral degree, such as a superintendent or a school psychologist.

Though a teaching license will require a bachelor’s degree, you may not need a state teaching license in order to be a part of an ECE program, as there are programs overseen by 3 distinct groups: Head Start, Texas Early Learning Council, and the Texas Education Agency. Head start has been requiring more and more of their positions to be held by bachelor’s degree holders, but there may still be some positions available to those with associate degrees. Be sure to check before jumping into an associate program. And the Texas Early Learning Council has created a career lattice rubric, giving levels for ECE educators, from high school diploma holders to those with doctoral degrees. You may be required to meet a specific level requirement to hold a position in a child care facility, which may allow you to gain some teaching experience without a teaching certification. However, this will vary from place to place, as most of these facilities are privately run.

During your degree program or at a separate time, you will also be required to complete an approved educator preparation program. If you already possess a degree, it is possible to complete an alternative certification program. If you pursue an early childhood education degree in Texas from an accredited higher learning institution, you will complete the approved preparation program as part of your degree. Keep in mind that the preschool teacher requirements may vary based on the management organization of the preschool program.

Step 2. Pass Your Exam

Once you complete your bachelor’s degree and teacher preparation program, you will be required to successfully complete early childhood education teacher certification exams. Because Texas has multiple organizations that oversee early childhood education, you may have to take several exams to qualify to teach at all preschools in Texas. Some of such certifications include the Head Start Preschool Teacher Standards, Texas Early Learning Council’s Early Childhood Career Lattice, and the State Preschool Teaching Certification from the Texas Education Agency.

These certifications will require that you have hands-on experience inside an ECE classroom. This is typically provided during an ECE degree program. You will also establish your ECE career development path as part of these certification processes and you may be required to complete the TEA teaching certificate. This certificate will allow you to teach in any ECE profession along with kindergarten through grade six. Testing locations for these certifications are typically only available in larger cities. After you pass your certifications, you must apply to the state for your official ECE certification.

Step 3. Career Advancement

Any person who completes a Texas Education Agency certificate for teaching preschool will be required to complete 150 hours of continuing professional education. The hours must be from approved programs or activities, such as college credits, online classes in areas related to early childhood education, or workshops in teaching tools and best practices. For individuals who became a teacher before a bachelor’s degree was required, classes toward a bachelor’s degree can be used toward the required hours of continuing professional education and they count toward moving up levels in the Early Childhood Career Lattice.

It is important to note that some employers do not require a bachelor’s degree; however, if you wish to make more money or get a job in a competitive market, you will need a bachelor’s degree as a minimum. To qualify for better jobs and to earn more money, you should complete advanced certificates and degrees in early childhood education or specialize to make yourself more employable.

Popular Career Choices

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

Accredited Texas Programs

You will require additional certifications and credentials to advance your career. However, one of the best ways to advance your career is to join professional teaching organizations in the state and the country. Texas has numerous organizations dedicated to professional teachers, including the Texas State Teachers Association, Texas Association for the Education of Young Children, Texas Classroom Teachers Association, Texas Association for the Improvement of Reading, and the Science Teachers Association of Texas. These professional organizations and others will help you learn new teaching techniques, stay current on teacher requirements, gain continuing education hours, and assist in finding new jobs.

Accredited Early Childhood Educator Teacher Preparation Programs

Early Childhood Education degree programs are readily available throughout the state of Texas. You will find roughly 70 of such programs in the state. Be sure you choose only colleges or universities that are accredited and approved by the certification organizations. Keep in mind that you can major in an education degree program that is not early childhood education; however, you must choose a minor or emphasis in ECE to increase your chances of passing the state required examinations and certifications.

  • Sam Houston State University

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, Early Childhood Education minor
    • Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with EC-6 Core certificate
    • Bachelor's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, EC-6 Bilingual Core
    • Bachelor's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies Certificate: EC-6 Special Education Core
    • Master's Degree in Administration
    • Master's Degree in Higher Education Administration
    • Master's Degree in Instructional Leadership
    • Master's Degree in Developmental Education
    • Master's Degree in Educational Leadership
    • Master's Degree in Higher Education Leadership
    • Early Childhood Education Certificate
    • Academic Advisor Certificate
    • Higher Education Assessment and Institutional Research Certificate
    • Principal Certification
    • Superintendent Certification

    Accreditation By:

    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
    • Educator Preparation Program - Accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Texas Education Agency
    • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
    • Teacher Education - Baccalaureate and graduate programs for the preparation of teachers and other professional personnel for elementary and secondary schools - National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
    • Education - Initial Teacher Preparation and Advanced Preparation Levels
  • Texas A&M

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an Emphasis in Bilingual Education
    • Bachelor's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an Emphasis in Special Education
    • Bachelor's in University Studies with an Emphasis in Child Professional Services
    • Bachelor of Science EC-6 Core Subjects/ Generalist
    • Master's Degree in Educational Administration with an Emphasis in PK-12 Educational Leadership
    • Doctoral Degree in Educational Administration with an Emphasis in PK-12 School Administration
    • Doctoral degree in Educational Administration with an Emphasis in PK-12 Educational Leadership

    Accreditation By:

    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
    • Educational Certificates for the College of Education and Human Services - Accredited by the State Board for Educator Certification
    • School Psychology Doctoral programs - American Psychological Association, Commission on Accreditation
    • Teacher Education - teacher preparation program for elementary and secondary schools - National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
    • Initial Teacher Preparation and Advanced Preparation Levels - National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
  • Texas Tech

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood

    Accreditation By:

    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
    • Initial Teacher Preparation and Advanced Preparation Levels - National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
  • University of Houston

    Degrees Offered:

    • Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
    • Bachelor’s Degree in Teaching and Learning
    • Master's Degree in Education Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education
    • Doctoral Degree in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education

    Accreditation By:

    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
    • Teacher Education teacher preparation programs for elementary and secondary schools - National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
    • Initial Teacher Preparation and Advanced Preparation Levels - National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
    • Doctoral Degree in School Psychology - American Psychological Association

Specialization Additional Certifications

Advanced certificates and specializations will count toward your continuing education and provide you with greater career opportunities. Early childhood education is projected to grow as an industry through 2026 at a reasonable rate; however, it is also likely to become more competitive. One way to differentiate yourself from the competition is to specialize in areas that are severely lacking in qualified candidates. A few of these areas are special education and STEM.

You might briefly touch on these areas in your degree coursework; however, most schools do not offer majors in ECE special education or ECE STEM. You will be able to choose these areas as a minor or emphasis in some degree programs or earn a post-graduate certificate from others. Keep in mind that these positions often pay better, and they have significantly less competition at the best schools with the best programs that are properly funded. All of these aspects can help make your teaching life significantly easier.

Career Options and Salary Info for Teachers

OccupationEntry-LevelMid-CareerLate-Career
Preschool Teacher$29,000$32,200$33,000
Elementary School Teacher$50,600$50,300$59,300
Professor of Education$80,100$98,600$91,600
Special Education Teacher$45,000$41,000$49,500
ESL Teacher$39,300$40,400$50,900
School Psychologist$54,200$61,000$73,100

Videos To Help You Find The Right Career Choices

  • Preschool Shark Math Lesson

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

  • Reality PD | Pre-School | Explain content clearly

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

  • Occupational Video - Early Childhood Educator

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

  • Alternative (Differentiated) Teaching

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fr-S5CGDXBQ

  • EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS: BUILDING BRAINS TOGETHER

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0pXe5pF5OA

  • A day in the life of a Special Education teacher

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

What It Takes

A career in Early Childhood Education is highly important to the future of our education system and it is highly rewarding. If you wish to pursue a career in ECE, be sure that you have the right skills and characteristics to be successful, such as patience, organization, creativity, and empathy. And you must enjoy working with young children and be prepared to handle messes and accidents on occasion. If this sounds like the career for you, start with a class online from an accredited college or university to begin without too much disruption to your life.

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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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