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 (DECAL) 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.

Bright from the Start put more than $358 million into state pre-K programs for fiscal year 2017, creating slots for some 84,000 students across the state. DECAL estimates that it currently serves 60 percent of the state’s four-year-olds, but with a wait list of 5,000 prospective preschoolers, it’s clear that many more are still needed.

That leaves it up to you, as one of those future preschool professionals, to help shape the future of those kids. With the right training, the right attitude, and a whole lot of patience and perseverance, you can make a huge difference to kids and their families in Georgia.

 


 

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

Most Georgia preschool teachers and administrators achieve median salary rates that are quite close to the national average. The state-funded free pre-K programs ensure constant demand for early childhood educators, with the number of preschool teachers set to expand by 13.6 percent between 2016 and 2026, generating 1,710 openings each year according to the state Department of Labor. Those openings come both from turnover in the current ranks as teachers transition to retirement and new jobs being created to meet demand.

Preschool administrators and special educators have even more growth to look forward to, with a 14.5 percent and 15.3 percent increase respectively… both well above the rate of expansion nationally.

According to 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, each role had the following salary ranges (median, top 25%, and top 10%):

Preschool Administrators: $43,650 – $58,220 – $65,460

Preschool Teacher: $28,750 – $36,510 – $46,690

Preschool Special Educator: $54,430 – $64,940 – $75,400

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell

As the largest metro area in the state, Atlanta also offers the largest selection of preschool employers… and also the highest average salaries for preschool teachers.

  • Atlanta Public Schools
  • Primrose School
  • Sandy Springs United Methodist Preschool
  • Apostles Learning Center
  • The Schiff School
  • The Goddard School
  • Roswell Presbyterian Preschool
  • The Children’s Garden Preschool
  • Inman Park Cooperative Preschool
  • Ahava Early Learning Center
  • La Petite Academy
  • The Suzuki School

Preschool teachers in the greater Atlanta area offer preschool teachers, early childhood special educators, and administrators salaries that fall within these ranges:

Preschool Administrators

  • Median – $44,950
  • 75th Percentile – $58,040
  • 90th Percentile – $63,660

Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $28,790
  • 75th Percentile – $35,730
  • 90th Percentile – $43,700

Special Education Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $48,100
  • 75th Percentile – $59,120
  • 90th Percentile – $65,340

Augusta

Although Atlanta offers higher wages for preschool teachers, the gap with Augusta is not large, and administrators here top out at almost $10,000 per year more than their big-city counterparts.

  • Richmond County School System
  • Deansbridge Head Start
  • Open Door Preschool
  • First Baptist Preschool
  • Big Blue Marble Academy
  • Pathway Head Start

Preschools in Augusta pay teachers and administrators salaries within these ranges:

Preschool Administrators

  • Median – $37,900
  • 75th Percentile – $53,130
  • 90th Percentile – $73,620

Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $27,090
  • 75th Percentile – $34,140
  • 90th Percentile – $42,310

Savannah

Like many Georgia counties, many of the preschool services in Savannah or through faith-based organizations.

  • Savannah-Chatham County Public School System
  • First Presbyterian Preschool
  • AJ Ward Montessori School
  • First Christian Preschool
  • Savannah Montessori Academy

At preschools in Savannah, teachers and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:

Preschool Administrators

  • Median – $45,980
  • 75th Percentile – $55,120
  • 90th Percentile – $68,660

Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $26,590
  • 75th Percentile – $30,990
  • 90th Percentile – $41,580

Columbus

In addition to the public pre-K programs offered by the Muscogee County schools, there are a large number of faith-based preschool programs in the Columbus area:

  • Muscogee County School District
  • Mark Preschool
  • One Magical Place
  • Grace Christian School
  • Calvary Christian School

Schools and learning centers in the greater Columbus area offer preschool teachers and administrators salaries that fall within these ranges:

Preschool Administrators

  • Median – $38,490
  • 75th Percentile – $54,670
  • 90th Percentile – $66,430

Preschool Teachers

  • Median – $24,390
  • 75th Percentile – $31,140
  • 90th Percentile – $44,990

 

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_ga.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 Georgia Department of Labor 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.

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