Requirements for Early Childhood Education Jobs in Utah

According to the state’s population figures and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last year there was approximately one preschool teacher for every 153 children under the age of five in Utah. This highlights the demand for qualified teaching professionals in this field, in a state where the concentration of children less than five years of age is one of the highest in the nation.

Of the 1,590 preschool teachers working throughout the state of Utah, the majority worked in the following locations:

  • 640 working in Salt Lake City
  • 270 working in the Ogden-Clearfield area
  • 250 working in the Provo-Orem area
  • 150 working in Saint George
  • 120 working in the Logan area
  • 80 working in the eastern non-metropolitan region of the state

The Utah Department of Health’s Child Care Licensing Program licenses both private preschool providers and teachers in the state. This agency ensures preschools provide an adequate learning environment, and sets the qualifications for preschool teachers in the state.

To become a competent and qualified preschool teacher in Utah you will need to complete the following steps:

Earn a Degree in the Early Childhood Education Field
Consider the Preschool Qualification Standards in Utah
Maintain and Upgrade Your Preschool Teaching Qualifications

 


 

Step 1. Earn a Degree in the Early Childhood Education Field

The Utah Department of Health’s Child Care Licensing Program requires early education teachers to hold an associate’s degree in early childhood education at minimum. Specific education requirements for preschool teachers are detailed in Step 2.

While earning an associate’s degree in the field of early childhood education satisfies the education requirements for licensure, many of Utah’s best private preschools specify a bachelor’s degree as the minimum requirement for employment.

Earning a more advanced degree such as an M.A.T., M.Ed. or MATL with a concentration in early childhood education will further add to your qualifications.

While studying early childhood education, expect courses in:

  • Orientation to preschool and elementary education
  • Educational psychology for early childhood teachers
  • Education of exceptional children and children with special needs
  • Early childhood education and science, language arts, mathematics, and reading
  • Storytelling as education
  • Inter-cultural communications with preschoolers and their parents or guardians
  • Student teaching in the preschool classroom

 


 

Step 2. Consider the Preschool Qualification Standards in Utah

There are different types of preschools in Utah, the most common of which are:

  • Head Start preschool programs
  • Private preschools and child care centers

Head Start Preschool Programs

Head start is a publicly-funded preschool program that focuses on providing quality education for Utah’s underprivileged youths to prepare them for early success in grade school. Last year this program served more than 6,500 three and four-year-olds at 117 locations throughout the state.

To become a preschool teacher in Utah’s Head Start program, the official minimum requirement is having an associate’s degree. However as part of a nationwide initiative aimed at improving teacher qualifications, many Head Start programs require higher credentials, especially from their lead teachers.

A recent preschool teacher job description for a Head Start position in Salt Lake City specified the following minimum applicant qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in any one of the following subjects:
    • Early childhood education
    • Family and consumer studies
    • Other related fields with an emphasis on early childhood essential topics

The job announcement also stated a preference for applicants with one year of prior experience teaching in Head Start or a related program, and specified that salary would increase depending on the applicant’s level of education.

Preschools and parents often consider the preschool teacher qualifications for Head Start programs to be the benchmark standard that ensures a desired level of educator quality.

Private Preschools and Child Care Centers

Private preschools and childcare centers in Utah teach tens of thousands of preschoolers every year. The state’s Child Care Licensing Program, an agency under the direction of the Utah Department of Health, regulates these types of facilities.

The Child Care Licensing Program maintains specific requirements for the preschools and child care centers under its jurisdiction as well as the preschool teachers and staff who work at these facilities. The lead preschool teacher or director at these facilities must fulfill the following preschool teacher certification requirements:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Be able to pass a criminal background check
  • Meet one of the following education requirements:
    • A college degree (associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate) that includes successful completion of at least 12 semester credits in early childhood development courses
    • Utah Early Childhood Career Ladder Certification at levels 8,9, or 10
    • Hold a current and valid national certification such as:
      • The National Child Care Association’s Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) credential
      • The Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition’s Child Development Associate (CDA) credential
      • Any other national credential recognized by the Utah Department of Health
      • The National Child Care Association’s National Administrator Credential (NAC) plus either:
        • Completion of 12 semester credits from a college or university in the subject of early childhood development
            • Child Development Ages and Stages
            • Learning in the Early Years
            • A Great Place for Kids
            • Strong and Smart
            • Learning to Get Along
            • Advanced Child DevelopmentCompletion of six specific courses offered through the one of Utah’s Child Care Resource and Referral agencies:

 

Utah Early Childhood Career Ladder Certification

The Utah Early Childhood Career Ladder Certification was developed by the Utah Office of Child Care with the goal of increasing the quality of early childhood education throughout the state. Many preschools will require prospective preschool teachers to have a certification at a specified minimum level on the ladder. To fulfill the requirements to become a lead preschool teacher and obtain a Utah Early Childhood Career Ladder Certification at level 8 requires meeting one of the following requirements:

  • Fulfilling the education requirements for the previous levels of certification and taking at least 40 hours of specialized classes for your specific area of endorsement, such as:
    • Infant and toddler
    • Special needs
    • Guidance and emotional wellness
    • Family child care
    • Theories and best practices
  • Completing continuing education courses in your specific area of endorsement
  • Earning three college credits in early childhood education or early childhood development

Earning Utah Early Childhood Career Ladder Certification at level higher levels requires:

  • Level 9 – one of the following two options:
    • Earn an associate’s degree that includes at least 15 semester credits in early childhood education
    • Hold a Level 8 Certification and an associate’s degree in any field
  • Level 10 – one of the following two options:
    • Earn a bachelor’s degree that includes at least 15 semester credits in early childhood education
    • Hold a Level 8 Certification and a bachelor’s degree in any field

To reward competent preschool teachers, Utah also offers pay bonuses to educators who participate in the Early Childhood Career Ladder Certification program, with the most recent bonuses being awarded on the following scale according to education level:

  • Level 1-3 – $95
  • Level 4 – $380
  • Level 5 – $475
  • Level 6 – $570
  • Level 7 – $665
  • Level 8 – $760
  • Level 9 – $855 associate’s degree
  • Level 10 – $950 bachelor’s degree

 


 

Step 3. Maintain and Upgrade Your Preschool Teaching Qualifications

In order for a facility to maintain its operating license, all preschool teachers/directors, assistants, and caregivers who work in preschools and child care centers overseen by the Child Care Licensing Program must complete at least 20 hours of child care training on an annual basis. This must include:

  • Signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect
  • Principles of child growth and development
  • Positive early childhood guidance
  • Your specific employer’s emergency and disaster plans
  • Current child care laws and regulations

To be eligible for a Utah Early Childhood Career Ladder Certification pay bonus, you must earn at least 10 hours of approved training each year.

Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field of early childhood education can satisfy annual training requirements. In addition to fulfilling training requirements, having a four-year or advanced degree can qualify you for:

  • The highest levels of certification on the Utah Early Childhood Career Ladder
  • Advanced career opportunities, especially in Utah’s most competitive markets
  • Higher salary bonuses and additional promotional opportunities
  • Flexibility to start your own preschool programs and initiatives

You can find additional resources regarding news, professional development opportunities, and employment in the field of early childhood education through organizations such as:


Utah Preschool Teacher Salaries

The 2013 median preschool teacher salary in Utah was $21,529. Inexperienced preschool teachers earned an average of $17,058 that year.

The number of preschool teacher jobs in Utah is projected to increase 2.1% a year according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services. This accounts for 70 new early childhood educator jobs each year. Growth is predicted to be even higher in several of Utah’s metropolitan areas:

George – 3.3%
Provo – 9%
Ogden – 3%
Utah’s early education salaries varied widely throughout the state and were highest in the Bear River area, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services:

Utah Salary
Inexperienced Salary
Bear River
$20479
Eastern Utah
$19415
Ogden
$17300
Provo
$16906
Salt Lake
$16997
George
$17068

42.9% of the 70 annual new Utah preschool teacher jobs are expected to be in the Salt Lake area. The area with the second greatest number of annual openings is Provo, which will be home to 28.6% of new jobs in the field.

The Salt Lake area contained the highest percentage of Utah’s 1,460 preschool teachers in 2012 (36.4% of these teachers were in this area). The metropolitan areas with the second and third largest level of employment were Provo and Ogden. They had 16.5% and 10.8% of Utah’s preschool teachers respectively. The patterns of predicted employment levels for 2022 follow these trends.

The U.S. Department of Labor provides a breakdown by percentile of 2013 early childhood educator salaries in Utah:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Logan UT-ID
120
25280
Ogden-Clearfield UT
270
23910
Provo-Orem UT
250
21330
St. George UT
150
25170
Salt Lake City UT
640
23960
Eastern Utah nonmetropolitan area
80
30260

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