The Arkansas Department of Education licenses all early childhood educators (P-4) in Arkansas. If you want to become a licensed preschool teacher in Arkansas, you must be prepared to complete the following steps:
The Arkansas Department of Human Services coordinates child care and early childhood education across the state through the Division of Child Care & Early Childhood Education. Dedicated to seeing to it the state’s youngest students get a good start, the department offers free early childhood professional development through a statewide training registry.
In addition to abiding by Arkansas Teaching Standards, to earn an Arkansas Birth through Prekindergarten Teaching Credential, preschool teachers in Arkansas must demonstrate knowledge and/or competencies in the following areas:
- Development of young children, developmentally appropriate approaches to learning, and individual differences
- Learning environments
- Content knowledge, curriculum building, and instructional planning/strategies
- Assessment and documentation
- Relationships and collaboration with families, colleagues, and community
- Professionalism and ethical practice
While those are all important aspects of what early childhood educators should embody and embrace, there is a whole lot more to being effective in the classroom. Kids care about your energy and emotional presence, making these vital qualities that any preschool teacher is expected to be able to demonstrate every day. Arkansas is in search of the right kind of people to fill that need statewide.
Step 1. Complete an Approved Licensure Preparation Program
You may qualify for an early childhood educator license in Arkansas through a number of Arkansas preparation programs, including:
- Traditional educator preparation program: This program involves the completion of a traditional approved preparation program, which includes a bachelor’s degree or higher, pedagogy requirements, and a student teaching experience. There are currently 20 traditional licensure preparation programs in Arkansas in early childhood (P-4) education at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
- Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure (APPEL): The APPEL program is designed for candidates who already possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university. APPEL candidates may begin working as a teacher in Arkansas upon completion of the state mandated assessments while they complete the APPEL program requirements, which include on-the-job learning, mentoring, structured assessments, and online and face-to-face instructional modules.
The successful completion of an APPEL program may result in a master’s degree; there are currently 6 approved non-traditional teacher preparation programs in Arkansas.
Approved licensure preparation programs (both traditional and non-traditional) in Arkansas are provided by Arkansas colleges and universities.
- Provisional Professional Teaching License: If you already possess a bachelor’s degree or higher in early childhood education and you have at least three years of teaching experience in this field, you may qualify for a Provisional Professional Teaching License.
To qualify for a provisional professional teaching license, you must successfully complete all required basic skills assessments and at least 24 hours of training in pedagogy. Further, you must already have an offer to teach in an Arkansas public school. A five-year educator’s license may be achieved following the expiration of a provisional professional teaching license, provided you receive a recommendation from your employing school district and submit a summative evaluation to the Board.
Step 2. Pass All Required Assessments for Licensure
All candidates for licensure in Arkansas must complete specific assessments. As a preschool teacher candidate, you must complete one of the following:
If you are applying for an age 3-4 endorsement, you must complete:
- Education of Young Children (5024): Qualifying score: 160
If you are applying for a P-4 endorsement, you must complete:
- Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood: Qualifying score: 157
If you are applying for an early childhood P-4 endorsement, you must complete:
- Early Childhood: Content Knowledge: Qualifying score: 157
You can find information on testing procedures, registration, and test preparation here.
Step 3. Apply for a Provisional and Standard License to Teach Early Childhood Education
After you have successfully completed all necessary requirements for licensure to become an early childhood preschool teacher in Arkansas, you must apply for a Provisional Educator’s License, during which time you will work under the guidance of a mentor. The mentoring program must be at least one year in length; upon successfully completing the program, you may apply for a Standard Educator’s License in Arkansas.
Your standard Arkansas teacher license is valid for 5 years, during which time you must complete at least 36 hours of professional development every year. (The original 60-hour requirement for license renewal concluded with the 2013-14 school year.) All standard license renewals in Arkansas can be completed online through the Arkansas Department of Education Teacher Licensure System.
Additional information on license renewal can be found here.
Step 4. Learn about Becoming a Preschool Teacher through the Arkansas Better Chance Program
The Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) Program is a state-funded program that is designed to serve educationally deprived children in Arkansas from age birth through 5 years (not including a kindergarten program). It now serves all children ages 3 and 4 years who come from families with a gross income not exceeding 200 percent of federal guidelines.
The Arkansas Better Chance Programs is a division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE). However, the Arkansas State Board of Education approves all rules and approves all programs funded under the Arkansas Better Chance Program, including teacher education and licensure requirements::
- Lead teachers in an ABC program must hold a standard teacher license with a P-4 certification/endorsement.
- Non-public schools may hire a non-certified teacher with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or child development.
- Public schools or non-cooperative based ABC Programs cannot hire teachers with a provisional/initial license.
- Non-public school/co-op based providers may be exempt from degree requirements on a case-by-case basis and contingent upon the teacher possessing the required number of hours in early childhood/early development.
- Lead teachers must be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of:
- Developmentally appropriate programming
- Curriculum development and daily classroom management
- For multiple-classroom sites, teachers of secondary classrooms must hold, at a minimum, an associate’s degree in early childhood education or early childhood development.
- The paraprofessional must hold at least one of the following:
- An associate’s degree in early childhood education or childhood development; OR
- A Child Development Associate (CDA) credential through the Council for Professional Recognition
All ABC teachers in Arkansas must complete at least 30 hours of staff development between July 1 and June 30 of every year. These hours must be related to early childhood education and must be approved by the DCCECE. ABC teachers who are pursuing an early childhood degree may count their college course hours toward their staff development annual requirements.
Additional information on Arkansas’ Better Chance Program can be found here.
Arkansas Preschool Teacher Salaries
According to the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, there were 3,250 preschool teachers employed in Arkansas in 2016. Those numbers will be shooting up by 2026, however, increasing by more than 15 percent to 3,750. But that’s just job growth based on expected demand and doesn’t account for normal turnover. In fact, nearly 400 positions will be opening up each year in the state created a combination of new jobs being created and current teachers transitioning to retirement.
For administrators and special educators, the news is even better… administrator positions will increase by almost 18 percent over that same period, and special educators by a whopping 21 percent, each averaging around 60 openings each year.
Preschool teachers in Arkansas tend to earn salaries that are better than the national average. For the median, top 25, and top 10 percent of each role, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found the following salaries for ECE professionals in Arkansas as of 2018:
Preschool Administrators: $37,750 – $49,330 – $80,380
Preschool Teacher: $30,390 – $42,240 – $50,330
Preschool Special Educator: $46,040 – $56,330 – $63,490
Below are some of the specific salary ranges you can expect in individual metro areas across the state, along with a selection of some of the larger preschools offering employment there.
The Fayetteville area offers a wide range of both public and private preschool programs in all sizes for early childhood educators.
- Ellen Smith Head Start Center
- Andrews Academy Preschool
- Snyder Preschool and Learning Center
- Middle Creek Creative School
- Rogers Public Schools
- Springdale School District
- Hope Mills KinderCare
- Rainbow School
- Kids Under Construction
- United Methodist Church Preschools
- Springdale Early Childhood Center
At preschools and ECE learning centers in Fayetteville, teachers and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $33,860
- 75th Percentile – $50,010
- 90th Percentile – $116,360
- Median – $25,440
- 75th Percentile – $37,530
- 90th Percentile – $56,580
Special Education Preschool Teachers
- Median – $57,440
- 75th Percentile – $63,900
- 90th Percentile – $75,760
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
Strong public school preschools face stiff competition from a variety of private preschool providers throughout the Little Rock region.
- Little Rock School District
- Geyer Springs Early Childhood Center
- Primrose School
- Fair Park Early Childhood Center
- Little Rock Montessori School
- Baptist Health Preschools
- North Little Rock School District
- Conway Public Schools
- Sallie Cone Preschool Center
At preschools and ECE learning centers in Little Rock, teachers and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $32,460
- 75th Percentile – $48,880
- 90th Percentile – $91,480
- Median – $33,060
- 75th Percentile – $43,320
- 90th Percentile – $55,140
Special Education Preschool Teachers
- Median – $38,370
- 75th Percentile – $48,300
- 90th Percentile – $58,770
Jonesboro does not offer as many positions for early childhood educators as some parts of Arkansas, but the average salaries tend to be higher, and the area ranks third in the nation for employment for special education preschool teachers.
- Jonesboro Public Schools
- Magnolia Road Head Start
- Valley View Public Schools
- Nettleton Public Schools
- Ana’s Angels Academy
- Apple Tree Preschool
- Little Scholars Learning Academy
At preschools in Jonesboro, teachers and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $42,290
- 75th Percentile – $47,220
- 90th Percentile – $50,200
Special Education Preschool Teachers
- Median – $44,320
- 75th Percentile – $54,960
- 90th Percentile – $61,200
Fort Smith offers a variety of agencies that provide Head Start preschools apart from the public school preschool system.
- Fort Smith Public Schools
- Grace Place Preschool
- Sutton Place Head Start
- Arkoma Head Start Center
- Hamilton Head Start Center
At preschools and Head Start programs in Fort Smith, teachers and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $30,310
- 75th Percentile – $38,520
- 90th Percentile – $63,330
- Median – $24,820
- 75th Percentile – $39,430
- 90th Percentile – $48,810
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_ar.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 Arkansas Division of Workforce Services 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.