As of 2016, there were 1,680 preschool teachers in Hawaii… each of them a dedicated professional with the right preparation and education to meet the state’s standards for early childhood educators, and each one with the energy and dedication it takes to manage and teach a classroom full of preschoolers.
Preschool teachers in the public school system are licensed through the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board, while those working outside the public school system must meet specific educational and experiential requirements set forth by the Department of Human Services (DHS).
Interestingly, most preschools in Hawaii are actually private, something you won’t find anywhere else in the country. In fact, only about 2 percent of 4-year-olds in the state were enrolled in state-funded public pre-K in 2016, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.
Whatever setting you end up working in, meeting education and licensing requirements is only a small part of becoming a successful preschool teacher. You will also have to bring in the right teaching techniques and the kind of attitude that will inspire your students for a lifetime of learning.
Review the first three steps if you’re interested in becoming licensed to work in the public school system through the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board… Skip to step 4 to get information on DHS requirements if you plan to work in one of the many private preschools that dot the Islands:
|Complete a Teacher Preparation Program|
|Apply for a Standard License|
|Apply for an Advanced License|
|Requirements for Preschool Teachers Licensed through the Department of Human Services|
Step 1. Complete a Teacher Preparation Program
Before you can apply for a license to become a preschool teacher in Hawaii’s public school system, you must complete an approved teacher preparation program. There are currently 13 universities and colleges in Hawaii that offer teacher preparation programs at the undergraduate (bachelor’s degree) level, at the graduate level (M.A.T., M.Ed.), and at the post-baccalaureate (post-bachelor’s certificate) level.
You may choose to complete one of two programs to become a preschool teacher in Hawaii:
- Early Childhood Education PK‐K
- Early Childhood Education PK‐3
Program content standards for preschool education programs in Hawaii must meet the NAEYC Standards for Initial and Advanced Early Childhood Professional Programs.
Note: Content examinations in Hawaii are NOT required if you have completed an educator preparation program or you can show proof of the completion of at least 30 semester hours in early childhood education or you have completed a master’s or doctoral degree in early childhood education.
Alternative Route to Licensure
The Hawaii Teachers Standards Board offers an alternative route to licensure using a pre-service performance assessment. If you are an experienced teacher who has not been previously licensed you may receive a recommendation after the Board has evaluated your preparation and experience. The Board notes that this route is the exception, rather than the rule and is reserved only for select candidates who meet specific requirements.
Step 2. Apply for a Standard License
If you have completed a teacher preparation program, you likely meet the requirements for a Standard License unless your employer or the jurisdiction in which you are applying for employment requires you to first hold a provisional license.
To apply for a Standard License, you must:
- Complete and submit a paper application for the Standard Hawaii Teaching License or submit your license application online
- Provide the Board with verification that you have completed a state-approved teacher education program (Your institution will verify you degree and send it directly to Teachers Standards Board.)
Standard licenses are valid for a period of 5 years. Initial application and renewal fees for standard licenses are $240, payable in annual payments.
Step 3. Apply for an Advanced License
You may apply for an Advanced License if you have at least 5 years of experience in Hawaii or another state in the last 8 years AND you hold a master’s degree or higher.
To apply for an Advanced License, you must:
- Complete and submit an Application for the Advanced Hawaii Teaching License or submit your license application online
- Submit an official transcript verifying you have received your master’s or above from an accredited college or university OR a copy of a National Board certification
- Complete and submit the Verification of Qualifying Experience for Advanced License form to document your teaching experience
Advanced licenses are valid for a period of 10 years. Initial application and renewal fees for advanced licenses are $480, payable in annual payments.
License renewals in Hawaii are completed by verifying your experience (HTSB Form Verification of Experience RA4010) and by verifying that you have satisfied Hawaii teacher performance standards (Renewal Activity Documentation HTSB Form 5010).
Step 4. Requirements for Preschool Teachers Licensed through the Department of Human Services
If you teach preschool outside of the public school system, you must meet the requirements set forth by the Department of Human Services (DHS), which licenses preschools, infant/toddler programs, and group childcare homes.
If you want to become a group childcare center teacher, you must be at least 18 years old and meet ONE of the following requirements:
- Option 1: A degree in early childhood or child development from an accredited college or university and at least 6 months of experience working with children in an early care and education-related setting; OR
- Option 2: A bachelor’s degree in any field from an accredited college or university, at least 12 credits in early childhood and/or child development, and at least 6 months of experience working with children in an early care and education-related setting
- Option 3: A bachelor’s degree in elementary education from an accredited college or university, with at least 6 credits in early childhood and/or child development, and at least 6 months of experience working with children in an early care and education-related setting
- Option 4: At least 60 credits in a degree program, a certificate in early childhood (16 credits), and at least 1 year of supervised teaching experience in an early care and education-related setting
- Option 5: A Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and at least one year of supervised teaching experience in an early care and education-related setting.
If you want to become an assistant teacher in a preschool program licensed by the DHS, you must be at least 18 years old and meet ONE of the following requirements:
- Option 1: At least 2 years of college credit (60 credits), which must include at least 9 credits in early childhood and/or child development, and at least 6 months of experience working with children in an early care and education-related setting
- Option 2: At least two years of college credit (60 credits), a college certificate of recognition in early childhood, and at least 6 months of experience working with children in an early care and education-related setting
- A Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and at least 6 months of experience working with children in an early care and education-related setting
Hawaii Preschool Teacher Salaries
Most preschools in Hawaii are private, a factor that contributes to relatively high salaries for preschool teachers and administrators throughout the state. With parents paying a premium to send their kids to private schools, those schools can pay teachers more. This all comes together to make Hawaii the fifth-highest paying state in the nation for early childhood educators according to 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.
But demand is high, and getting higher all the time, as more and more families move to the Islands and scramble to get their kids enrolled in preschool. But there is good news even as local programs are scrambling themselves to accommodate all these new students. As enrollment climbs, new preschool development grants have been coming in from the federal government that will fuel additional Head Start and public charter school classes in the coming years.
That will help boost the number of preschool teachers in the state by more than 5 percent between 2016 and 2026, with 180 openings expected every single year as a result of new job creation and normal turnover as existing teachers retire. The numbers for administrators and special ed pre-K specialists are even better, growing at 10 percent and 7.1 percent respectively over the same period.
These salary ranges provided by the US Department of Labor in 2018 help give an idea of what you can expect to earn as a preschool teacher or administrator in Hawaii (median – top 25% – top 10%):
Preschool Administrators: $54,210 – $68,630 – $92,780
Preschool Teacher: $38,840 – $45,900 – $50,440
Specific salaries for different urban areas in the islands and some of the major preschool employers are listed below:
Honolulu dominates the preschool pay scales in Hawaii as well as the overall employment numbers with around 1,100 teachers in the area, working at some of the following schools:
- Hawaii Public Schools
- Diamond Head Preschool
- Kamalani Academy
- Kamaaina Kids
- Central Union Church Preschool
- Pali Preschool
- Stepping Stones Academy
- Holy Nativity School
- Queen Emma Preschool
Public and private preschools in the greater Honolulu area offer preschool teachers and administrators salaries that fall within these ranges:
- Median – $54,650
- 75th Percentile – $71,100
- 90th Percentile – $92,970
- Median – $39,900
- 75th Percentile – $46,340
- 90th Percentile – $50,310
Below are some of the major employers of preschool teachers and administrators on the island of Maui:
- Hawaii Public Schools
- Kamaaina Kids
- Kahului Hongwanji Preschool
- Maui Keiki Preschoo
- Little Explorers
- Iao Preschool
- Holy Innocents Preschool
- Montessori Eagles International
At preschools in Kahului, Wailuku and Lahaina, teachers can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $35,900
- 75th Percentile – $42,790
- 90th Percentile – $49,600
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_hi.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 Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations 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.