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An early childhood education associate’s degree can open up a variety of career paths for you. With this degree, you can work at a daycare, preschool, or even a kindergarten classroom. You might also choose to work with young minds outside of an academic setting, as a camp counselor, for example. Some people with an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education (ECE) go on to get their bachelor’s degree.

There are many different roles you can fill with an associate’s degree in ECE. The most important factor is to find a career that you are passionate about. If you love working with children and want to help make a difference in their lives, then an early childhood education AA degree is a great option for you. Read on to learn more about what you can do with an early childhood education associate’s degree.

What Is an AA Degree in Early Childhood Education?

The Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education is a two-year degree program that prepares you for careers working with young children. Students in the program take courses in child development, early childhood education, and other related topics. The AA in ECE is a widely recognized and respected degree that provides you with the knowledge and skills necessary to work effectively with young children and their families. 

Additionally, the degree equips you with skills you can use in a variety of roles after graduation, including:

  • Child development knowledge: Learn about the stages of child development and how to support children as they grow and develop. Helping young students through this time can set them up for lifelong success.
  • Early childhood education methods: Different approaches to early childhood education, and how to implement them in the classroom and other real-life situations, will prepare you well for a career in this field.
  • Classroom management: Learn how to create a positive and effective learning environment for young children.
  • Communication: You’ll learn how to communicate effectively with young students, colleagues, teachers, families, and community members.
  • Organization: You’ll learn how to organize your time and resources in order to effectively manage a group of young children.

What Can I Do With an Early Childhood Education Degree?

An early childhood education associate’s degree provides you with the skills and knowledge necessary to enter the ECE field. With this degree, you’ll be prepared to work with young children in many different settings, such as childcare centers, preschools, and elementary schools. You’ll also be prepared to work with families in their homes and out in the community, in home-based childcare facilities, family childcare centers, and Head Start programs.

With an AA degree in ECE from an accredited school like the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC), you can work in a variety of roles. We take a look here at these six: daycare provider, camp counselor, recreation coordinator, infant/toddler caregiver, teacher aide or assistant, and home visitor. Learn more about each career opportunity in detail and see which one is the best fit for your career ambitions.

Six Career Paths After Earning an AA Degree in Early Childhood Education

Once you complete your associate’s degree in ECE, you may choose to work with young children and students in one of a variety of ways. Check out these six potential careers, along with their median annual salary and growth outlook:

1. Daycare provider: Daycare providers work with children ranging in age from infants to toddlers. Duties may include changing diapers, feeding students, supervising playtime, instructing basic curriculum, and teaching basic concepts such as letters, numbers, and colors. Depending on the age of the children you work with, your responsibilities will vary. You can also expect to work closely with daycare teachers, early childhood education or daycare directors, and parents. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reportedly found 56,430 childcare and daycare provider positions in 2021; the number is expected to grow 2.7% annually. The mean salary for daycare providers is $25.87 hourly and $53,800 annually. 

2. Camp counselor: Camp counselors are responsible for the safety and well-being of campers while they are away from home at overnight camp. According to job board Betterteam, camp counselors may work with campers of all ages, but most typically work with children aged 7–16. Counselors are responsible for leading activities — such as arts and crafts, sports, and hiking — as well as helping campers with their personal needs, such as homesickness. Camp counselors act as on-duty chaperones, aides, and mentors to kids and teens. The BLS recorded a median annual salary of $47,940 in 2021, and an hourly rate of $23.05. In 2020, there were 20,800 jobs, growing at an average yearly rate of 10%. 

3. Recreation coordinator: Recreation coordinators work in a variety of settings, such as recreation centers, YMCAs, parks and recreation departments, and summer camps. O*NET Code Connector describes the role as responsible for developing and implementing programs and activities for children and adults. This may include sports leagues, arts and crafts classes, fitness programs, special events, and more. Recreation coordinators also supervise staff and volunteers, and may be responsible for budgetary matters. The BLS found the median annual wage for recreation workers was $29,680 in May 2021, or $14.27 per hour. In 2020, there were a reported 354,100 positions in the U.S. with this title, and an expected growth of 18%, much faster than the average.

4. Infant/toddler caregiver: Infant/toddler caregivers work in daycare centers, preschools, and private homes. They are responsible for the care and supervision of infants and toddlers. Duties may include feeding, diapering, bathing, and rocking infants to sleep; as well as supervising toddlers as they play. Infant/toddler caregivers must have a great deal of patience and be able to handle a fast-paced environment. The BLS determined the median salary to be $29,430 annually or $14.15 per hour in May 2021. For 2020– 2030, the job outlook predicts a 33% increase in caregiver positions – much faster than average. With the positive outlook comes another bonus: this role can often work flexible hours, making for a manageable work-life balance.

5. Teacher aide or assistant: Teacher aides and assistants work in elementary, middle, and high schools. They provide support to teachers by helping with lesson preparation, classroom set-up, grading, and managing student behavior. Teacher aides may also work one-on-one with students who need extra help or supervise students in small groups. Some teacher aides may have the opportunity to lead small group instruction or teach lessons if they have the necessary credentials. The BLS cited a median salary for teacher assistants or aides of $29,360 per year in 2021. There were 1,306,300 positions of this kind in 2021, and the expected rate of growth is 9%. 

6. Home visitor: O*NET Code Connector describes the role of home visitors as working with families who have young children, as well as people with chronic illnesses and disabilities who require assistance. Home visitors provide support and guidance to parents and individuals as they navigate through the early years of parenthood or illness. They may guide and assist with basic care, help connect families to resources, and make home visits to check on the well-being of the family. Home visitors must have excellent communication and organizational skills. The BLS reported an annual salary of $29,430 in 2021, with 1,129,000 jobs of its kind.

After I Get an AA Degree in Early Childhood Education, Which Degree Is Next?

For students who want to continue their education after completing an AA degree in early childhood education, there are a few different options. One option is to complete a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. This will prepare you to work in a variety of settings, including preschools, daycare centers, and elementary schools. Students who complete a BA in ECE will gain additional skills, including child development, curriculum planning, and assessment. 

Another option for students with an AA in ECE is to complete a state teaching certification program (which may or may not also require a bachelor’s degree). Depending on your state’s requirements, this will get you on your way to working as a certified teacher in a public school setting. Teaching certification programs vary by state, and most programs require students to complete a certain number of hours of student teaching. Additional testing and background checks may be required. Check out your state’s teaching requirements to learn more.

Overview: What Can I Do With an Early Childhood Education Associate’s Degree?

If you’re interested in working with young children and their families, an AA degree in early childhood education is a great choice to help you meet your academic and career goals. With this degree, you will gain the skills and knowledge necessary to make a difference in the lives of young children. What’s more, the career and salary projections for the field of early childhood education are positive, making the time to get started now. 

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An online degree from the University of Arizona Global Campus does not lead to immediate teacher licensure in any state. If you want to become a classroom teacher, contact your state's education authorities before enrolling at the University of Arizona Global Campus to determine what state-specific requirements you must complete before obtaining your teacher's license.

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Are you currently a licensed RN?

This program requires you to be a current licensed registered nurse. Please check out other programs to reach your education goals such as the BA in Health and Wellness.