Washington D.C. has more than 360 center-based child development facilities as of late 2019 according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). Pre-K programs abound, with all DC Public Schools and most charter schools offering preschool classes, along with a wide array of participating community-based organizations.
The OSSE Pre-K Enhancement and Expansion Program offers a free pre-K option to eligible families with nearly 40 classrooms city-wide. With all of those classrooms hungry for qualified teachers, it’s a great time to get into the profession.
You need both education and heart to be a successful preschool professional. Although training can give you the techniques you need to manage and educate a class of 4-year-olds, you need dedication and heart to serve as inspiration for those kids to realize their full potential.
Washington is a unique environment for preschool operators, with a diverse population in both the cultural and socio-economic senses and a single unified school district covering the city. Add in a vibrant charter school program and many private providers, and you end up with opportunities for every sort of teaching position.
If you want to become a preschool teacher in Washington D.C. and teach in the public or charter school system, you must hold a valid teacher license.
To become licensed as a preschool teacher in Washington D.C., you must complete the following steps:
|Complete an Approved Teacher Preparation Program|
|Pass the Required PRAXIS Examinations|
|Apply for and Maintain your Teaching License|
|Explore Other Teaching Requirements for Preschool Teachers in Washington D.C.|
Step 1. Complete an Approved Teacher Preparation Program
To become licensed as a preschool teacher in Washington D.C., you must complete a teacher preparation program in early childhood education (recognized as PreK-Grade 3) approved by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. A teacher preparation program includes all requirements for licensure, including pedagogy requirements and a student teaching experience.
Although the minimum degree for teacher certification in Washington D.C. is a four-year bachelor’s degree, teacher preparation programs may also culminate in a master’s degree (M.A.T.L., M.Ed., and M.A.T.) for candidates who already possess a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Traditional educator preparation programs may therefore be of the undergraduate or graduate variety. There are currently 7 traditional educator preparation programs in early childhood education in Washington D.C.
There are also a number of post-baccalaureate teacher preparation programs which, although they do not culminate in an undergraduate or graduate degree program, are designed to prepare candidates who already demonstrate mastery in the field. Candidates who qualify for these alternative route educator preparation programs are typically granted permission to teach while completing the alternative educator preparation program. There are currently 5 alternative preparation programs in early childhood education in Washington D.C.
Step 2. Pass the Required PRAXIS Examinations
To become a preschool teacher in Washington D.C., you must take and pass the following examinations:
PRAXIS Core Academic Skills Exams:
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading (5172): Must pass with minimum score of 156; AND
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing (5722): Must pass with minimum score of 162; AND
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics (5732): Must pass with minimum score of 150; AND
PRAXIS II Content Examinations for Early Childhood Education (PreK-Grade 3):
- Early Childhood: Content Knowledge (5022): Must pass with a minimum score of 165; AND
- Early Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood (5621): Must pass with a minimum score of 159
All PRAXIS examinations are administered through ETS. You can learn more about the above examinations, as well as how to register and schedule for the examinations, through the ETS website.
Step 3. Apply for and Maintain your Teaching License
After you have successfully completed all requirements for licensure, you may apply for a license as a preschool teacher in Washington D.C. If you have completed a traditional approved teacher program, you must complete an (initial) Application for Regular II Licensure.
If you are enrolled in an alternative route teacher preparation program and have not yet completed the program, you must complete an Application for Regular I Licensure, which is valid for a period of 2 years. A Regular I license is not renewable.
You must renew your Regular II license every four years by completing an Application for Licensure Renewal and providing proof that you have completed at least 6 semester hours or 90 contact hours (or a combination of the two) of professional development activities.
Step 4. Explore Other Teaching Requirements for Preschool Teachers in Washington D.C.
Washington D.C.’s Head Start Collaboration Office (HSCCO) is responsible for facilitating collaboration with Head Start agencies and programs that carry out activities designed to benefit low-income children from birth to school entry.
Currently, Head Start lead teachers are required to possess, at a minimum, an associate’s degree, although by 2015, at least half of all teachers in a Head Start preschool program must possess a bachelor’s degree.
The Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s Division of Early Learning (DEL) is responsible for providing leadership and coordination to ensure that all children in Washington D.C., from birth to pre-kindergarten, have access to high quality early childhood development programs. The DEL licenses all child development centers in Washington D.C.
The District of Columbia provides free, high-quality Pre-K education services throughout its public schools, public charter schools, and a number of community-based organizations across the city. Pre-K Expansion Grants provide an entry point for community-based programs.
Preschool teachers working in a licensed child development center in Washington D.C. are required to possess at least ONE of the following:
- An associate’s degree or higher in early childhood education or early childhood development from an accredited college or university; OR
- An associate’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university, with at least 15 credit hours in early childhood education or early childhood development; AND at least one year of supervised experience working with children in a licensed District of Columbia Child Development Center or its equivalent in another jurisdiction; OR
- At least 48 credit hours from an accredited college or university, with at least 15 credit hours in early childhood education or early childhood development; AND at least two years of supervised experience working with children in a licensed District of Columbia Child Development Center or its equivalent in another jurisdiction; OR
- A valid Child Development Associate (CDA) credential; OR
- Proof of the completion of a child care certification course of no less than 90 hours from an accredited college or university; AND at least three years of supervised experience working with children in a licensed District of Columbia Child Development Center or its equivalent in another jurisdiction
Washington, DC Preschool Teacher Salaries
Demand for preschool teachers and administrators is skyrocketing in the District. The Department of Employment Services forecasts that both roles are due to expand by more than 16 percent between 2016 and 2026, resulting in a combined 150 openings per year, both new positions and from normal turnover due to retirement. That’s well above the national rate of around 10 percent.
When you combine the above-average job growth rates with above average salaries, you have a great opportunity to find yourself a well-paying job. According to 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teachers in the District earned salaries within this range (median, top 25%, and top 10%):
Preschool Teacher: $38,210 – $47,800 – $60,730
BLS data for preschool-level special educators and administrators was not provided, but you can see the aggregate figures for the District and nearby Arlington and Alexandria below, together with some of the largest preschool employers in the District.
Every type of teaching methodology and approach can be found in the diverse Washington D.C. preschool collection.
- District of Columbia Public Schools
- New Heights Child Development Center
- Agape Woodland Tiger Children Academy
- Baby Einstein Child Development Center
- Bright Horizons
- Early Learner Academy
- Estrellitas Child Care Center
Schools and learning centers in the greater DC area offer preschool teachers, early childhood special educators, and administrators salaries that fall within these ranges:
- Median – $57,490
- 75th Percentile – $82,080
- 90th Percentile – $115,440
- Median – $34,390
- 75th Percentile – $45,390
- 90th Percentile – $69,420
Special Education Preschool Teachers
- Median – $74,200
- 75th Percentile – $96,050
- 90th Percentile – $122,540
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_dc.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 District of Columbia Department of Employment 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.