Iowa’s Department of Education believes that ensuring a strong start for every child is a shared responsibility of every member of the community. Of course, it falls to dedicated and well-trained teachers to fill the most important roles in that system, which is where you come in: as an individual with the right temperament and skills to harness the unique potential and abilities of each child in a classroom, you can play an integral role in educating future generations of Iowans.
Early Childhood Iowa (ECI), the state’s early childhood system, serves all 99 counties through a network of 38 local ECI boards. The system coordinates all state-level early childhood systems to develop better health and educational outcomes for children younger than six.
One of those efforts is the statewide voluntary preschool program. All four-year-olds in Iowa are eligible to participate in this program. By expanding the voluntary access to preschool statewide, the Iowa Department of Education hopes to give young children a head start in their education… an approach with successful outcomes that are borne out in study after study.
If you think you have the heart and the education to be a part of this important initiative by becoming a preschool teacher in Iowa, follow these steps:
|Complete a Degree and Teacher Preparation Program
|Pass the Necessary Examinations
|Apply for Your Iowa Teaching License in Early Childhood Education
|Maintain and Upgrade Your Iowa Teaching License
Step 1. Complete a Degree and Educator Preparation Program in Iowa
Prospective preschool teachers in Iowa must earn at least a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and complete an approved educator preparation program. A list of Iowa approved educator preparation programs may be found here. Your major will be in Early Childhood Education, which allows you to teach from birth to grade three in Iowa.
If you attended an out-of-state educator preparation program, Iowa may still grant you a teaching license. The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners should accept your credits if your program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
In addition to your degree and educator preparation program, you must fulfill other educational requirements in Iowa. They include:
- A board-approved human relations course that covers diverse lifestyles, interpersonal and intergroup relations
- A board-approved exceptional learners course that covers gifted students and students with disabilities
- Additionally, you must meet the Board’s recency requirement of having completed six college credits or 160 days of teaching experience within the past five years
Your coursework will include a Professional Education Core and specialized content-level courses in Early Childhood Education.
Professional Education Core- coursework in:
- Instructional planning
- Diverse learners
- Student learning
- Instructional strategies
- Learning environment/classroom management
- Foundations and professional development
- Preparation in reading programs and integration of reading strategies into coursework
- Methods of teaching
- Computer technology related to instruction
- Collaboration, ethics and relationships
- Student teaching in your desired grade level/subject area
Early Childhood Education – content coursework:
- Child growth and development
- Developmentally appropriate curriculum implementation and learning environment
- Health, safety and nutrition
- Family and community collaboration
- Pre- Student teaching field experiences – must be at least 100 clock hours with three different age levels in infant and toddler, preprimary and primary programs, and in different settings (like urban and rural)
- Student teaching – must be at least 12 weeks long and in two different classrooms, including children with and without disabilities, at three age levels – infant and toddler, preprimary and primary
Step 2. Pass the Necessary Examinations for Preschool Teachers in Iowa
The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners does not maintain test scores for teachers. Rather, it is expected that you will have completed basic skills and content testing as part of your educator preparation program. Tests are administered through the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and Pearson.
Aspiring preschool teachers in Iowa must pass the following tests:
- Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT): Early Childhood (with a score of 160)
- Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (score of 174)
- Early Childhood: Content Knowledge (score of 169)
- edTPA: Elementary Literacy or Mathematics or Combination (your educator preparation program will choose from these three options) (score of 41)
- edTPA: Early Childhood (score of 41)
Test centers in Iowa may be found in the following cities:
- Cedar Falls
- Sioux City
- Fort Dodge
- West Des Moines
Step 3. Apply for Your Iowa Teaching License
Have you completed the educational and examination requirements above? You are now ready to apply for your Iowa license to become a preschool teacher. You will be applying for an Initial License, which is valid for two years.
- You will use the Application for Licensure (Iowa Institution) if you graduated from an Iowa educator preparation program. Make sure to:
- Complete Section I
- Sign and date the application
- Attach official, sealed college transcript(s)
- Enclose your check/money order for $85 payable to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners
- Verify all teaching experience
- Once you have completed the above steps, send the application packet to the institution where you completed your teacher education program. They must complete their part of the application and send the entire packet to instruct them to forward the completed application packet to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, Grimes State Office Building, 400 E 14th St., Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0147.
- Use the Application for Licensure (Non-Iowa Institution) if you graduated from an out-of-state educator preparation program. In addition to the steps above:
- Complete the fingerprint packet information and enclose the proper fee.
- Enclose verification of passing any out-of-state teacher licensure tests
- Enclose copies of any valid teaching licenses from other states
- Once you have completed the above steps, send the application packet to the institution where you completed your teacher education program. Instruct them to forward the completed application packet to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, Grimes State Office Building, 400 E 14th St, Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0146.
It will take four to six weeks for your application to be processed. You will receive your Initial License by mail.
Ready to get started? Check out our comprehensive list of ECE degrees by State at various levels to determine what program is right for you.
Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your Iowa Teaching License
You are now an Iowa preschool teacher and Initial License holder! Make sure to do everything necessary to maintain and upgrade that license by following these guidelines.
Converting an Initial License to a Standard License
During the two years that you hold an Initial License, you are expected to complete your school’s mentoring and induction program. Additionally, you must complete two full years of teaching experience and meet or exceed standards for Iowa teachers before you may apply for a Standard License. If you meet these requirements, complete the Application for Conversion from an Initial to a Standard License. Your school administrator must complete Section II of the application and it must be mailed to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, Licensure, Grimes State Office Building, 400 E 14th St, Des Moines, IA 50319-0147.
Your Standard License is valid for five years. You must meet continuing education requirements in order to renew it.
Continuing Education for Iowa Preschool Teachers
Every five years, you are expected to complete six credits of continuing education to renew your Standard License. Credits may come from the following sources:
- Iowa licensure renewal courses approved by the Board of Educational Examiners
- Accredited college courses that add professional depth to your endorsement area
- Accredited college courses that count towards a graduate degree you are earning
- Accredited college courses that count towards an additional endorsement you are earning
- Certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards may count for up to four credits
- Mentoring student teachers may count for one to two credits
You may renew your Standard License online. Be sure to retain proof of your continuing education to submit at license renewal time.
Requirements for Child Care Providers in Iowa
Because preschool is offered by the Iowa Department of Education to all four-year-olds, these programs demand trained, degreed teachers in Early Childhood Education. However, the state does have rules for those who work at preschool or child care environments other than those affiliated with the Department of Education. They include:
- Non-Registered Home: caregivers must be at least 18 years old and pass Iowa child abuse registry check, Iowa criminal records check and national criminal records check. This type of home is not inspected, nor is its records, and it has a maximum capacity of 5 children.
- Child Development Home A: caregivers must be 18, pass the Iowa child abuse and Iowa and national criminal records check, and it is inspected once per year. Maximum capacity of 8 children.
- Child Development Home B: caregivers must be 20, pass all of the abuse and criminal checks, and have either two years of experience and a high school diploma/GED OR one year of experience with a child-related degree. It is inspected once per year and holds a maximum of 12 children.
- Child Development Home C (2 providers): Caregivers must be 21, pass all checks, and have either a high school diploma /GED with five years of experience OR a child-related degree and four years of experience. It is inspected once yearly and holds a maximum of 16 children.
- Child Development Home C (1 provider): Caregivers must be 21, pass all checks, and have either a high school diploma /GED with five years of experience OR a child-related degree and four years of experience. It is inspected once yearly and holds a maximum of 8 children.
- Licensed Center: The lead teacher must be at least 18 years old and pass all checks. The lead teacher must have a high school diploma/GED and a combination of experience and education (not specified). It is inspected once yearly and the capacity varies by licensing.
Iowa Preschool Teacher Salaries
Iowa’s preschool teachers and early childhood education administrators have a lot of growth to look forward to in the coming years. Iowa Workforce Development forecasts a 12.2 percent increase in education administrator jobs by 2026, with 70 openings per year, while preschool teachers will enjoy a robust 11.4 percent job growth rate over the same period, with 480 annual openings. The jobs opening up are the result of both job creation and normal turnover as existing teachers enter retirement.
Special education teachers at the preschool level will see a 7 percent increase, and an average of 230 openings each year.
Buoyed by state and federal funding, such as Head Start and the Iowa Department of Education’s Every Child Reads program, those roles come with solid salaries. Here you’ll see the range for various ECE roles in Iowa as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018 (median, top 25%, and top 10%):
Preschool Administrators: $36,810 – $47,340 – $61,170
Preschool Teacher: $24,680 – $30,530 – $38,280
Preschool Special Educator: $48,660 – $64,620 – $75,500
Below, locale-specific salaries are given for those same ranges, together with some of the largest preschool employers in Iowas major cities.
Des Moines-West Des Moines
Des Moines and West Des Moines have a lot of preschool options from public schools to high-priced private academies to religious preschools. Some of these include:
- Des Moines Public Schools
- La Petite Academy
- McKee Education Center
- West Des Moines Community Schools
- Woodlawn Education Center
- Principal Child Development Center
- Hope Lutheran Preschool
- Bergman Academy
- Cadence Academy Preschool
- Montessori Children’s House
At preschools in the greater Des Moines area, teachers and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $39,740
- 75th Percentile – $50,730
- 90th Percentile – $70,530
- Median – $24,480
- 75th Percentile – $28,570
- 90th Percentile – $31,500
Cedar Rapids offers preschool teachers the unique opportunity to earn a median salary that is nearly as much as a school administrator, although the divergence between the rates increases when you reach the top 25 percent in either role.
- Cedar Rapids Community School District
- La Petite Academy
- Cedar Valley Montessori School
- Lily Pad Childcare & Preschool
- Trinity Lane Preschool
- Kids Kampus
- Cedar Rapids Day School
Schools and learning centers in Cedar Rapids offer preschool teachers and administrators salaries that fall within these ranges:
- Median – $30,700
- 75th Percentile – $48,000
- 90th Percentile – $69,100
- Median – $28,230
- 75th Percentile – $34,720
- 90th Percentile – $39,310
These are some of the preschools in the Iowa City area that employ preschool teachers and administrators:
- Iowa City Community School District
- Stepping Stones Preschool
- La Petite Academy
- Cadence Academy
- Discovery Cottage Preschool
- Good Shepherd Center
- Our Redeemer Preschool
- Little Angels Learning Center
At public schools and private programs in Iowa City, preschool teachers, and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $29,110
- 75th Percentile – $34,360
- 90th Percentile – $45,840
- Median – $21,910
- 75th Percentile – $24,270
- 90th Percentile – $27,440
Although it’s a much smaller urban area, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls region offers a higher median salary for school administrators than the Des Moines area.
- Waterloo Community School District
- Cedar Falls Community School District/Tri-County Head Start
- Happy Time Preschool
- Sonrise Christian School
- Small World Preschool
- Clover Patch Preschool
- Farmstead Preschool
- Immanuel Lutheran Preschool
In the greater Waterloo-Cedar Falls area, preschool teachers and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $41,600
- 75th Percentile – $48,570
- 90th Percentile – $60,850
- Median – $25,270
- 75th Percentile – $33,840
- 90th Percentile – $50,440
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_ia.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 Iowa 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.