The Alaska System for Early Education Development (SEED) Council was created in 2004 to take on the responsibility of forming an Early Learning Guidelines Development Committee. After carefully considering different options, SEED eventually chose to adopt the Early Learning Standards established and used successfully in Washington state for years.
Today SEED operates through a joint effort that involves five separate state agencies working in the best interests of Alaska’s young children. This unique collaboration has brought the Alaska Board of Education and Early Development together with Health and Social Services, the Department of Labor, Head Start, and the Tribal Healthcare Association, all working toward a common goal.
A vital part of that system are the teachers and administrators that serve as the front-line advocates for those kids. Thoughtful, caring, and well-trained educators make all the difference in creating a successful early learning program, and Alaska needs more of them all the time.
The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported that there were 670 preschool teachers employed in Alaska in 2016. By 2026, this number is expected to increase to 710, a 6 percent increase. The numbers of ECE administrators and special educators in preschool systems are both lower—both around 130—and expected to remain flat through that same period.
Public school preschool teachers in Alaska achieve certification through the Alaska Board of Education and Early Development. If you want to become a preschool teacher in Alaska, complete the following steps:
Step 1. Complete a Degree in Early Childhood Education
If you want to teach preschool in Alaska’s public school system, you must achieve a teaching license through the Alaska Board of Education and Early Development. The first step to becoming licensed as a preschool teacher in Alaska is to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher in early childhood education from a regionally accredited college or university.
The most streamlined approach, however, to becoming a preschool teacher in Alaska is through the completion of an Approved Teacher Education Program. An approved teacher education program in Alaska combines an undergraduate or graduate education and a student teaching experience.
There are currently two Early Childhood Education (Pre-K) programs in Alaska at the bachelor and post-baccalaureate level.
Before you can achieve a professional teacher certification in Alaska, you must complete the following:
- Three semesters of approved multicultural coursework
- Three semesters of approved Alaska studies coursework
These courses may be completed through approved local colleges/universities.
Preschool Instructional Aid
If you want to become a preschool instructional aid in Alaska, you must complete an associate’s degree (at minimum) in early childhood education/development or a similar field, or achieve a Childhood Development Associate (CDA) credential through the Council for Professional Recognition. However, a two-year degree or CDA credential only allows you to apply for an instructional aid certification in Alaska (See Step 2).
Note: Alaska’s SEED program offers a Pathways to Professionalism program, which is designed to assist candidates who are working toward their CDA by providing them with training stipends. Alaska’s Head Start programs require candidates to possess a two-year degree in Early Childhood Education/Development.
Step 2. Consider Applying for an Associate Certificate in Early Childhood Education
If you want to serve as an instructional aid in a preschool or public school primary setting, you must earn the Early Childhood Education (Type E) certificate through the Alaska Board of Education and Early Development. This five-year certificate, however, does not allow you to serve as a regular classroom teacher in a public school setting.
To earn the Early Childhood Education certificate, you must possess one of the following:
Associate 1: A CDA credential or the completion of a 30-credit college program that includes at least 400 hours of supervised experience
To earn the CDA credential, you must possess the following:
- The completion of a professional portfolio
- 120 hours of professional education
- 480 hours of professional experience
Associate II: An Associate I, plus the completion of an approved associate degree (AA) in early childhood education
You must contact the Teacher Certificate Office at email@example.com to request an application form to apply for the Early Childhood Education certificate in Alaska.
Step 3. Pass the Required Competency Examination
Upon the completion of an approved teacher education program, you must take and pass a basic competency examination that covers the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics to become a preschool teacher in Alaska. You may take the PRAXIS Academic Skills for Educators examination or take and pass one of the following State examinations:
- Alabama Work Keys
- California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST)
- Florida Teacher Certification Examination – General Knowledge:
- Georgia Assessment for the Certification of Educators
- Illinois Certification Testing System
- Michigan Test for Teacher Certification
- New Mexico Assessment of Teacher Basic Skills
- New York State Teacher Certification, Liberal Arts and Science Test
- Oklahoma General Education Test
- Washington Educator Skills Test (WEST-B)
More information on registering for and taking the PRAXIS Academic Skills for Educators examination can be found on the ETS website.
Step 4. Apply for Initial Certification as a Preschool Teacher in Alaska
After passing the required competency examination, you may apply for initial certification as a preschool teacher (PreK-3) in Alaska by completing a Teacher Certification Application for Initial Certificationand submitting an institutional recommendation.
If you have completed an approved teacher education program and have completed the required Alaska coursework, you may apply for an Initial Three-Year Teacher Certificate.
If you have completed an approved teacher education program but have NOT completed the required Alaska coursework, you may apply for an Initial Two-Year Teacher Certificate.
During this period, you must take and pass a PRAXIS II content area examination in Elementary Development (K-8) to achieve an endorsement in early childhood education. You may take one of the following examinations to obtain an endorsement on your Alaska teaching certificate in early childhood education:
- Elementary Education: Content Knowledge (5018)
- Elementary Education: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment (5017)
You can learn more about the above PRAXIS examinations and register to take them through the ETS website.
Step 5. Apply for and Maintain a Professional Teacher Certificate with an Early Childhood Endorsement
Before you can achieve a professional teacher certificate as a preschool teacher in Alaska, you must complete a Professional Certification application and show proof that:
- You are currently employed as a preschool teacher in Alaska
- You have at least two years of teaching experience on your initial certificate
- You have taken and passed the appropriate PRAXIS II examination for endorsement in early childhood education
- You have completed at least 6 semester credit hours (with at least half of those credits being graduate/upper-division credits) on your initial teacher certificate
- You have completed the required Alaska coursework
Professional teacher certificates in Alaska must be renewed every 5 years upon completion of at least 6 semester credit hours of graduate courses, with at least half of those credits being graduate/upper-division credits.
Because of the graduate-level coursework requirements needed to maintain a professional certificate in Alaska, many preschool teachers choose to pursue a master’s degree as to meet these continuing education requirements and enjoy higher salaries and additional employment opportunities.
Teachers in Alaska may achieve a master teacher certificate, which is valid for a period of 10 years, if they achieve National Board certification issued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).
Alaska Preschool Teacher Salaries
The overall low number of teachers and administrators employed in ECE in the Land of The Midnight Sun and the uneven growth rates mean there aren’t a lot of openings each year for teachers up here—about 70 preschool teachers and only around 10 new positions each year for administrators and special education teachers at the ECE level, according to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Those openings come from a combination of growth and turnover and can open up anywhere in the state, from Anchorage to well above the Arctic Circle.
Although most Alaska preschool teaching positions won’t see a great deal of change in numbers in the coming decade, for those who get into the field here, the salaries are quite lucrative—well above the national numbers at the median, and in the top 25 and 10 percent, as shown below:
Preschool Administrators: $56,190 – $70,340 – $81,120
Preschool Teacher: $31,450 – $39,050 – $52,390
Preschool Special Educator: $66,710 – $76,240 – $82,600
Some of the primary employers are listed below for the largest metropolitan areas in the state. Due to the spread-out nature of the education system here, the state has chosen to put many ECE resources directly into the hands of parents rather than developing school-centric programs that can be difficult for families in Alaska to access. This has resulted in efforts like the Parents as Teachers program, which allocates resources for at home learning.
Preschool teachers in Anchorage, the state’s largest city, can find work with either the local public school system or private learning centers such as:
- Anchorage School District
- Kid Corps Head Start
- Cook Inlet Native Head Start
- CCS Early Learning
Salaries for preschool teachers and administrators in Anchorage fall within these ranges:
- Median – $58,160
- 75th Percentile – $72,420
- 90th Percentile – $84,400
- Median – $30,050
- 75th Percentile – $35,970
- 90th Percentile – $44,100
Most early childhood education centers in the Fairbanks area are run by either tribal associations like the Fairbanks Native Association Head Start and organizations like Thrivalaska Head Start. Preschool teachers in Fairbanks can expect salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $30,050
- 75th Percentile – $35,970
- 90th Percentile – $44,100
Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2018 for preschool teachers, preschool special education teachers and preschool administrators – https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm#11-9111. The BLS salary data shown here represents median – 90th percentile salary ranges for the state and its MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries.
Job growth projections sourced from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database – https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
All salary and job growth data accessed in September 2019.