Online Associate in Early Childhood Education

Research indicates that early childhood education can close educational performance gaps and foster important social, emotional, and physical development. By coupling education with Christian practices, professionals in early childhood education can guide the process of a child's development toward God's objectives to man. While early childhood degree holders can certainly become teachers, these professionals can work in multiple roles and settings. As teachers, teaching assistants, or directors, these individuals often work in preschools and childcare centers. Some professionals work in the homes of their students, providing one-on-one care as au pairs. Christian early childhood professionals sometimes work in religious or grantmaking organizations.

The number of children entering childcare facilities and preschools continues to grow, leading to a 7% increase in demand for skilled professionals through 2026. Bureau of Labor Statistics

You don't need an online associate degree in early childhood education to explore jobs in the field. However, by earning an early childhood education online associate degree, professionals significantly increase their job marketability and earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of children entering childcare facilities and preschools continues to grow, leading to a 7% increase in demand for skilled professionals through 2026.

Online programs are typically asynchronous so students can complete course requirements at their own pace.

Getting an associate degree in early childhood education online provides great flexibility for students. Distance learners can use additional time to acquire relevant professional experience. Online students returning to school can keep their job while earning their degree. Online programs are typically asynchronous so students can complete course requirements at their own pace. Each week, students engage in discussion boards, essays, and exams prior to the final deadline date. Self-paced programs do not require deadlines.

Students who pursue online learning at Christian universities can build a global professional network of like-minded individuals. Additionally, many online programs provide a more affordable education since students don't pay housing or lab fees. On their journey to earning an associate degree in online early childhood education, individuals typically complete student teaching or internships at an approved local facility.

How Long Does it Take to Earn Your Early Childhood Education Associate Degree Online?

Students considering an early childhood education associate degree can earn their degree in as little as 1.5 years. Most associate degrees require 60 credits and follow eight-week semesters, allowing students to focus on one course at a time. Online programs tend to continue courses through the summer, allowing students to graduate sooner. However, some students opt to attend school part-time. While part-time students enjoy more flexibility, they often take longer to graduate. Schools usually offer start dates at the beginning of their eight-week semesters.

To qualify for an early childhood education associate degree online, students must submit a copy of their high school diploma or GED. Many universities also require a copy of transcripts to determine if students meet prerequisites. Students may need to submit recommendation letters, which should come from professionals or past teachers who can elaborate on the student's academic abilities or character.

Depending on a student's GPA or scores in particular coursework, universities may require students to take placement exams before beginning an online early childhood education associate degree program. While the standard GPA expectation tends to hover around 3.0, many programs accept a 2.0-2.5. Students with a lower GPA may still apply, but they may need to submit a letter of explanation. The school may also place students on academic probation for the first year. Many schools also request ACT or SAT scores.

When individuals pursue an associate degree in early childhood education from an accredited university, they gain the skills needed to work with students in any setting. Christian universities also devote time to communicate material through a Christian worldview. While programs differ, all programs cover pertinent information regarding development, assessment, special education, and instructional strategy. See below for potential courses students can anticipate:

Beyond a noble commitment, an early childhood education online associate degree creates multiple opportunities for graduates. While professionals can certainly become classroom teachers or teaching assistants, they can also pursue leadership positions in daycares and preschools. Students who graduate from accredited Christian universities also learn content that prepares them for roles within religious facilities. Despite their desired professional path, students should value education and demonstrate compassion and empathy.

Childcare Center Director

Directors maintain a facility's flow by acquiring the best teachers, training, and professional development. Directors ensure the facility and staff remain in compliance with state and federal standards. Other duties include meeting with parents and preparing budgets. At minimum, many states require candidates to have an associate degree.

Director, Preschool

These professionals manage everyday activities and maintain communication with parents. Other duties include hiring and training staff; meeting with parents; and managing student files. Directors often prepare school budgets, pay facility expenses, and develop ways to generate additional revenue.

Director, Childcare

These individuals engage with teachers, teaching assistants, and other professionals who work in the childcare facility to offer support and guidance. Other responsibilities include collaborating with parents to develop individualized action plans for their child. Many states require directors to have a bachelor's degree. Students can get their associate degree as the first step in this direction.

Children's Ministry Director

These professionals often work in churches developing programs that help children grow spiritually. They write lesson plans, obtain materials for activities, and develop budgets. On occasion, children's ministry directors orchestrate outreach events during holidays, which require marketing capabilities and effective communication.

Daycare Teacher

These workers strive to meet the needs of young children while their parents are at work. Professionals focus on maintaining a schedule and preparing daily activities to improve social interaction and develop motor skills.
Job Title Annual Median Wage
Childcare Center Director $40,247
Director, Preschool $40,347
Director, Childcare $39,155
Children's Ministry Director $31,530
Daycare Teacher $21,424

Earning a degree comes with significant financial investments, so students must ensure their desired program meets educational and professional standards. Accreditation is a validation process that assesses programs at universities or the school as a whole. Subject matter experts who know what content should be included in a program typically govern this process. Students should identify if a school holds national or regional accreditation. National accrediting agencies work with technical and vocational schools across the country. Students can also look for schools with regional accreditation, reserved for academically oriented schools.

Accreditation is a validation process that assesses programs at universities or the school as a whole.

Students should also consider programmatic accreditation, which evaluates how well a program prepares students for careers in the field. Many early childhood education programs are accredited by the NAEYC Accreditation of Early Learning Program or the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation. Students interested in attending Christian universities should also consider programs accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International.

Students who plan to earn an early childhood education online associate degree should consider joining professional organizations that support members at every stage of their career. Membership provides access to experts in the field who willingly share their expertise through mentorship. Emerging professionals receive networking opportunities through conferences and workshops, and current students can pursue scholarships. After graduation, professionals can satisfy continuing education requirements through the organization's offered classes. Most programs also provide career advice and regularly post job opportunities.

  • Association for Childhood Education International

    Since 1892, ACEI has examined human development across the world. ACEI aims to provide every child with quality education, helping them grow into engaged and responsible adults who can initiate positive change. ACEI members can access a vast network, professional development opportunities, and grants.

  • Council for Exceptional Children

    Educators who specialize in student exceptionality development can explore this professional association. By joining CEC, professionals agree to set high standards for teachers of exceptional children, explore innovative strategies, and develop initiative to improve practice. Members have access to a 27,000-member network and mentoring programs.

  • Division for Early Childhood

    DEC focuses on innovative ways to advance evidence-based practices that lead to the best development in young children who are at risk for developmental disabilities. DEC provides a place for professionals to collaborate with a multidisciplinary network. DEC also offers professional development and access to resources.

  • Military Child Education Coalition

    Military children often experience an unorthodox upbringing, which leads to specific developmental and family experiences that require solutions from professionals who understand their struggles. Professionals who become members of the MCEC join a four-million-member community that actively collaborates to create solutions for their students.

  • National Association for the Education of Young Children

    NAEYC focuses on providing quality learning to children up to eight years old through research, policy, and practice. Members can access digital resources, online forums, and complimentary books. NAEYC also offers online courses for professionals continuing their education, webinars, and annual conferences.

  • National Black Child Development Institute

    For more than 40 years, NBCDI has focused on ways to engage all stakeholders who influence the lives of African-American students and their families. By joining NBCDI, professionals gain access to a network of like-minded professionals. Members also have access to research-based curricula regarding family engagement and social-emotional development resources.

  • Zero to Three

    This organization strives to support adults who impact infants and toddlers. Professionals in relevant fields have access to a digital library filled with cutting-edge research. Members can also attend virtual events to learn about recent developments in early childhood education and development.

  • National Head Start Association

    NHSA believes that every child should have access to quality educational resources. In the past 50 years, NHSA has helped more than 32 million children. Members can take advantage of conferences, training events, and online resources.

While many students find the cost of a college degree intimidating, students earning an early childhood education online associate degree qualify for multiple scholarships to offset tuition rates. Additionally, students who wish to attend a Christian university to earn their early childhood degree may qualify for religious-based scholarships. No two scholarships are the same. Students should spend time examining the requirements to ensure they are viable candidates. See below for potential awards Christian students majoring in early childhood education can explore:

Early Childhood Education Scholarships

Educational Advancement Foundation Varies

This foundation offers scholarships to students majoring in education. Students in their sophomore year or higher with a minimum 3.0 GPA may apply. Students must be able to demonstrate their community involvement. View Scholarship

Prospective Educator Scholarship $500-$2,000

Each year, the Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation awards more than 30 scholarships to students who wish to become educators. Applicants should either be high school seniors or undergraduate students currently enrolled at an accredited university. Students must submit transcripts, recommendation letters, and a 500-word personal statement explaining why they want to become a teacher. View Scholarship

American Montessori Society Varies

This society provides resources to educators at any level of their career including students majoring in education. The group selects candidates based on financial need and recommendation letters. Students must also submit a personal statement. View Scholarship

Bright Futures Scholarship $1,000

Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool offers multiple scholarships to sophomore, junior, and senior students currently enrolled in an accredited undergraduate program. Students must be studying education. However, no specific major requirements exist. Students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and provide official transcripts. View Scholarship

Applegate-Jackson-Parks Future Teacher Scholarship $1,000

Students majoring in education at an accredited university can apply for this award. Students must demonstrate potential for completing their program in addition to providing transcripts. Students must also submit a 500-word essay about the Right to Work principle from an educator's perspective. View Scholarship

Teacher Education Assistance College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program $4,000

Aspiring early childhood educators should consider applying for this grant. Students must have a minimum 3.25 GPA to qualify. They must commit to teaching in schools where most students come from low-income families. This teaching commitment must be completed within eight years of their graduation date. View Scholarship

Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois $2,500

This program encourages students to pursue education degrees. Students must agree to teach at a school that is considered high-need within two years from their graduation date. To apply, students must have a minimum 2.5 GPA and a copy of their transcripts. View Scholarship

Tomorrow's Teacher Scholarship $2,500

High school seniors who wish to become educators and have a minimum 3.0 GPA may apply. Students must write a 1,000-word essay explaining what future teachers need to be effective educators. View Scholarship

Outlaw Student: Teacher Scholarship Program $500

Students who wish to pursue an education degree at any age level may qualify to receive this award. Granted every three months, these scholarships go directly to students to assist with books and living expenses. View Scholarship