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Requirements for Early Childhood Education Jobs in Georgia

To become a preschool teacher in Georgia, you must meet specific requirements as set forth by the Department of Early Care and Learning and the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.

Follow these steps to learn how:

Complete an Approved Route to Initial Certification
Complete the Appropriate Induction Program
Apply for an Induction and Professional Certificate
Complete Pre-K Child Assessment Training
Maintain your Certification

The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning oversees the State’s pre-kindergarten program, known as Bright from the Start. This is a voluntary, lottery-funded educational program for Georgia’s four year olds.

As of the 2012-13 school year, Bright from the Start reported 3,819 pre-k programs in Georgia and a total student enrollment of 81,683. During the same period, 168 public school systems participated in this program, which included 1,733 classes and a student enrollment of 37,414.

Private providers participating in Bright from the Start totaled 683, which included 2,043 classes and a student enrollment of 43,342.

As of the 2012-13 school year, there were 3,008 certified preschool teachers in Georgia (1,587 public and 1,421 private).

 


 

Step 1. Complete an Approved Route to Initial Certification

If you want to become a preschool teacher in Georgia, the first step is completing a Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) approved educator preparation program. A GaPSC-approved program includes a student teaching, field experience, or education practicum, which is completed in a Georgia school.

Depending on your educational background, a GaPSC-approved program may be:

  • A bachelor’s degree program if you do not currently possess a bachelor’s degree (the minimum degree to become a lead preschool teacher in Georgia)
  • An advanced degree program (a Master of Arts in Teaching, a Master of Education, or a Master of Arts) if you already possess a bachelor’s degree but have not completed the requirements for initial certification
  • A certificate-only program if you already possess a bachelor’s degree program but have not completed the requirements for initial certification (usually has fewer courses and requirements than a master’s degree program)

You can view a list of GaPSC-approved teacher preparation programs here.

The following majors related to Early Childhood Education (ECE) are recognized by the Department of Early Care and Learning for preschool lead teachers:

  • Birth through Five
  • Child and Family Development
  • Child Development
  • Early Childhood/Special Education
  • Early Childhood Care and Education
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Elementary Education
  • Family and Consumer Science
  • Infant and child development
  • Special education

The Department of Early Care and Learning also recognizes a degree in psychology or social work, provided it includes at least ONE of the following:

  • An associate degree with a major in early childhood education
  • A Montessori diploma
  • A technical college diploma (TCD) with an ECE major
  • A technical certificate of credit (TCC) with an ECE major
  • A Child Development Associate (CDA) credential

If you possess a non-early childhood education degree, you must possess at least 15 semester hours or 25-quarter hours of accumulated ECE-related coursework within the non-ECE degree.

Assistant Preschool Teacher

You may also teach preschool in Georgia as an assistant teacher. To become an assistant teacher in Georgia, you must possess at least ONE of the following:

  • Technical College Diploma in early childhood education
  • Technical Certificate of Credit in early childhood education
  • Specialist degree or PhD
  • Paraprofessional Certificate issued by the GaPSC
  • Master’s degree (MA, MS)
  • Georgia teacher certificate
  • Child Development Associate (CDA) credential issued by the Council for Professional Recognition
  • Bachelor’s degree (BA, BS)
  • Associate degree (AA, AS, AAS, AAT)

You can learn more about becoming an assistant preschool teacher in Georgia here.

 


 

Step 2. Complete the Appropriate Induction Program

You must complete an induction program to become certified to teach preschool in Georgia. Your induction pathway will differ depending on the preparation program you completed:

 

 

Information about the GACE, including preparing to take the appropriate examinations, can be found here. Information on registration, test centers, and dates can be found here.

 


 

Step 3. Apply for an Induction and Professional Certificate

Upon completing all components of the appropriate induction pathway, you may apply for an Induction Certificate to teach preschool in Georgia. Induction certificates are valid for a period of 3 years.

You must work for all 3 years of your induction certificate to convert your induction certificate to a professional certificate, which is valid for a period of 5 years and is renewable. You can renew your induction certificate if you cannot meet this professional requirement. To apply for an Induction Certificate, you must:

 


 

Step 4. Complete Pre-K Child Assessment Training

If you have never taught in Georgia’s pre-k program, you must complete Georgia’s Pre-K Child Assessment training as part of the New Teacher Institute. During this period, you will be required to gather documentation, which may include observational notes, work samples, and photos.

You can learn more about Pre-K Child Assessment training for new preschool teachers in Georgia here.

 


 

Step 5. Maintain your Certification

To maintain your educator certification in Georgia, you must complete at least ONE of the following:

  • 6 semester hours of college coursework (must have a C or better)
  • 10 Georgia Professional Learning Units (Courses can be found here.)
  • 10 continuing education units (must be issued by a GaPSC-approved college or university or a provider authorize by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training)

If you are employed by a Georgia public school system, your certificate renewal must be renewed electronically by your employing system.


Georgia Preschool Teacher Salaries

The Georgia Department of Labor projects 2.5% job growth each year in the ten-year period leading up to 2022. 49.6% of these jobs will come from growth, with the remaining coming from the replacement of preschool teachers who will leave the workforce.

In 2013, the average preschool teacher salary in Georgia was $32,656. Those in the 10th salary percentile averaged $17,493 a year, while preschool teachers in the 90th percentile made $55,848 on average. Georgia preschool teacher salaries varied substantially throughout the state.

Salaries for preschool teachers in the 90th percentile were particularly high in Athens:

Georgia City
10th Percentile
90th Percentile
Athens
$16827
$80891
Atlanta
$17659
$54538
Augusta
$16557
$53477
Columbus
$16286
$46842
Macon
$16432
$47445
Savannah
$20363
$56285

Over half of the 11,040 preschool teachers in Georgia in 2013 were located in the Atlanta area. It had the sixth highest level of employment of any metropolitan area in the country according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Columbus, the second largest city in Georgia, only had 2.7% of the state’s preschool teachers according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

Most of Georgia’s preschool teachers worked for child day care services in 2012. 52.6% of the state’s Pre-K teachers worked for such facilities. Only 2.8% of these teachers worked for individual and family services, while 1.2% worked for social advocacy organizations.

Here the BLS provides a detailed analysis of 2013 Pre-K teacher salaries throughout Georgia:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Albany GA
290
27170
Athens-Clarke County GA
110
35440
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta GA
6550
28910
Augusta-Richmond County GA-SC
460
28460
Brunswick GA
80
38670
Chattanooga TN-GA
490
26810
Columbus GA-AL
360
28160
Dalton GA
90
25250
Gainesville GA
110
35170
Hinesville-Fort Stewart GA
110
38860
Macon GA
370
26880
Rome GA
110
43160
Savannah GA
340
32100
Valdosta GA
190
23590
Warner Robins GA
250
26010
North Georgia nonmetropolitan area
420
38100
Middle Georgia nonmetropolitan area
250
37780
East Georgia nonmetropolitan area
310
31210
South Georgia nonmetropolitan area
570
32770

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