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Career Profile: So, you want to be an Early Childhood Educator

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Adriana with preschooler Genesis counting raindrops.

Early Childhood Educators have the responsibility of working with children to learn with different fundamental activities, typically between the ages of 3- 10 years old. Working with children, you will be expected to help the child emotionally and physically as their education is developing.

Who can do this? Someone who is great with kids and can be creative with fundamental ideas for them.

What does it take? At least a 2-4 year college degree, typically a Bachelor’s degree.

When can you get it? You can get it at a 2 year community college or a 4 year university.

Why should you do it? You are getting the chance to enhance your knowledge about children and how to work with them on a daily basis to help them learn.

How much will you make? At least $9 an hour, $19,000- $54,000 a year.

Melissa with preschooler Kimberly making a tornado using water and glitter.

Many public and private community colleges in the Chicago area offer a 2 years Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Learning. The least expensive tuition for college seems to be at Triton College at less than $5,069 for the year. With Triton College not offering housing on campus, renting nearby could be up to $7,000 an academic year (not including extra housing expense). Many colleges in the Chicago area nearby can offer the same academic program in Early Childhood Learning as Triton College, these programs can be given to you at a separate community college and then transferred over to Triton for the same cost.

Early Childhood Educators in the community where asked about the enjoyments of their career and the responsibilities they have to follow on a daily basis. Eva Villalpando, an early childhood educator at Berenice E. Lavin Early Childhood Education Center, works everyday helping the bright young minds of children to succeed.

Question and Answer

What made you take interest in this career?
It was a very difficult decision. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in but I knew for sure it had to deal with children. In the beginning I wanted to become a social worker for children in need, but the requirements were that you have to have empathy and sympathy for the children but you also had to learn how separate yourself emotionally. Since I am a very emotional person I knew I wasn’t fit for this job. So I decided to study the early childhood development of children in order to become an elementary school teacher.

What skills are required for this job?
Patients is number one! You also have to have good classroom management, good communication skills with the students, parents, and other teachers.

What do you find most enjoyable?
From my experiences with working with children, the most enjoyable part is what i like to call the light bulb moment. Which is teaching them something they haven’t learned before and seeing them actually understanding it. They’re face lights up as if it were a light bulb. I’ve had many children call me mom before. I like to think that they are seeing me as someone they trust.

Are too many or too few people entering the profession?
I believe there are few people entering this career, well at least for those in Chicago. Budgets are being cut, new teachers being let go because they don’t have much experience. There are so many flaws with the system.

Do you believe the salary range is reasonable for anyone?
Sadly, no. The salary in a normal/typical situation is not very appealing. Many people think that if you had a higher education, you would get higher wages, not always the case. Then again the
argument is, if we are paid a higher wage wouldn’t that just fallen to the parent to pay a higher monthly fee.

What are the pros and cons about the job?
The biggest pro is the children and knowing you can make a difference. Biggest con, sadly to say one of them is the parents. This job would be much easier if it wasn’t for the parents. There are
some that no matter what you do you cannot please and they have very high expectations. Again also you are viewed by many as just a babysitter or daycare worker. We should really be referred to as early childhood educators.

Describe your typical work day.
My typical workday in a nutshell! I start at seven, I have water bottles that I have available for my children all day so I usually fill
them up first thing. I spray the room Lysol to cut out some germs. Then the children start coming in. The first thing my children do is to wash their hands from outside. Breakfast is typically served shortly after 830. The lady from the kitchen brings it to us we serve family style . Then the children that are potty trained go potty. Then I also do my first round of diaper checks/changes. By this time it is close to nine. Weather permitting we go outside if not we have
an indoor gym. The gym is available for us until 945. Outside we have the playground as long as we want, we do not share it with the older children. We come back to the room, anytime we
leave the room when we come back we wash our hands. Again our state law requires that 75% of the time the children are there they should be having free play. So they play or we do some
painting or some other work at the table. We then sometime before lunch have circle time/table time. I generally do it at the table it works well for us. We count 1 to 10 in English and Spanish. I
have also incorporated using some basic Spanish words such as hello goodbye thank you please water milk and recently added friends. Lunch is brought to us somewhere around 11 o’clock we eat shortly after or whenever we are ready. Again it is served family style. Sometimes I allow the children to help depending what it
is. They do help clean up and carry the dishes and bowls out to the hallway. Somewhere in between this I am laying the cots out. During lunch I put the CD on which we call late night music. I then start checking diapers the children that potty go potty and then they go on their beds. Somewhere pretty close to noon I check their diapers, and they have snack at the table. By the afternoon my afternoon girl comes in.

What kind of advice would you give someone who is entering this career?
Enjoy what you’re doing, know that you could make a difference with the children, learn as much as you can take as many classes as the state offers. Learn your state licensing guide rules. Be open and work well with others.

If you could, would you choose to change your career pathway?
I would not change it. Being around children is what i’m passionate about, even though there will be some challenges. The children are the future and being able to be a part of their development process is an honor.

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3 Responses to “Career Profile: So, you want to be an Early Childhood Educator”

  1. Natalie on May 7th, 2018 9:40 am

    This article is very helpful because it gives a lot of information about being an early childhood educator and here at Morton, child development helps a lot with that career! This article was also very interesting because little kids catch my attention! As well as helping me choose my career which being an early childhood educator caught my attention but I am still not sure about it but I liked how they added pictures of the little kids from child development to tie into this article. 🙂

  2. Yulicsa Govea on May 7th, 2018 10:50 am

    I myself have in mind that I want to work with children. For a career I was thinking about becoming a pediatrician. I have child development as one of my classes and I find it really fun to work with the preschoolers, I might also consider to be a Early childhood educator. Working along side children can be pretty joyous.

  3. Adriana Sanchez on May 7th, 2018 12:05 pm

    After reading this article it made me think of how great it would be to work with children every single day. Especially since I love being around kids and helping them learn about simple things like colors, or counting. Children are always very energetic and I feel like being close to them helps people become more relaxed and less stressed.

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Career Profile: So, you want to be an Early Childhood Educator