The state of Kentucky guarantees free public preschool education to all four-year-old children whose family income is no more than 160 percent of the poverty level, and to all three and four-year-olds with developmental delays or disabilities. Individual school districts then step in to determine how to make programs available to other four-year-olds without developmental delays and from families further up the socioeconomic ladder in an effort to ensure everyone has access even while giving priority to those with the greatest need.
These preschool programs operate under the Kentucky Department of Education, which only certifies properly trained and well-qualified preschool teachers in Kentucky. And while that training is important, perhaps more important is the sort of commitment and drive you can bring to the table as a preschool teacher or administrator. The Kentucky laws require preschool programs to be developmentally appropriate, and encompass the child’s physical, intellectual, and social development… a far cry from a strictly scholastic enterprise.
If you think you have the chops to lead a classroom full of four-year-olds through scholastic and social skill-building, you can become a preschool teacher in Kentucky by following the steps in this guide:
|Complete a Degree and Educator Preparation Program|
|Pass the Exams Required for Preschool Teacher Certification in Kentucky|
|Apply for Your Kentucky Teaching Certificate|
|Maintain and Upgrade Your Kentucky Teaching Certificate|
Step 1. Complete a Degree and Educator Preparation Program
In order to teach preschool in Kentucky, you must be certified in interdisciplinary early childhood education, birth to primary. This requires completion of at least a bachelor’s degree and an approved teacher preparation program. A database of programs approved by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board may be found here.
Additionally, you must maintain one of the following grade point averages:
- Cumulative GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale,
- GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale on the last 60 hours of your credit coursework (includes both undergraduate and graduate courses)
You must meet Kentucky’s recency requirement of having completed your teacher preparation program within the five years before applying for certification or having completed at least 6 semester hours of graduate credit in the five years before application.
Courses that you will take as an Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education major in Kentucky will, of course, vary from school to school, but will usually include:
- Instructional media
- Assessment of young children
- Intervention planning for special needs children
- Advanced curriculum planning
- Language and literacy for young children
- Human development and learning
Experience for Preschool Teachers in Kentucky
Under Kentucky law, you must complete student teaching and field experience as part of your teacher preparation program. Prior to beginning your student teaching, you must complete at least 200 clock hours of field experiences in a variety of programs from primary through grade 12. This experience must include:
- Engaging with diverse populations of students
- Observing in schools and agencies such as Family Resource Centers
- Tutoring students
- Interacting with students’ families
- Participating in a school-based professional learning community
- Attending school board and council meetings
- Assisting teachers or other school professionals
Your student teaching must last at least 70 full days and will be supervised by a Cooperating Teacher, who will monitor your progress and report to your University Supervisor. When you student teach, you will be placed into an age-appropriate setting and will get the opportunity to assume the full range of teaching duties, such as co-teaching, creating lesson plans, and demonstrating classroom skills.
Step 2. Pass the Exams Required for Preschool Teacher Certification in Kentucky
Before you are accepted into a teacher preparation program in Kentucky, you will likely need to pass the Praxis I basic skills exams. These consist of:
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading with a score of 156
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing with a score of 162
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics with a score of 150
The Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board requires that you pass the Praxis II content area examination for your chosen certification area. New preschool teachers in Kentucky must pass the following examinations:
- Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education with a score of 166
- Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood pedagogy examination with a score of 160
Testing centers in Kentucky include:
- Bowling Green
- Highland Heights
Step 3. Apply for Your Kentucky Teaching Certificate
Have you completed your degree, teacher preparation program, and examinations? If so, you are now ready to apply for your Kentucky teaching certificate in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education. Use the CA-1 Application Form. Be sure to include:
- Official copies of your college transcripts
- Have your student teaching school superintendent or personnel director fill out Section 2 of the application form verifying your full-time classroom teaching experience
- Certificates verifying you have passed the Praxis II exams
- Verification of completion of your teacher preparation program (Section 4 of the application must be filled out by your school’s certification officer)
- $50 certified check/money order payable to Kentucky State Treasurer or pay certification fees online after mailing application
Mail everything to Division of Certification, Education Professional Standards Board
100 Airport Road, 3rd Floor, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601.
(Note to out-of-state and foreign graduates:
- if you graduated from an out-of-state teacher preparation program, use the same application form above and have your school complete the section verifying completion of the program, just as in-state applicants must do. If you hold any out-of-state teaching certificates, submit copies of them to the Board)
- If you graduated from a teacher preparation program in a foreign country, you must have a credential evaluation performed by one of these approved evaluation agencies)
Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your Kentucky Teaching Certificate
Well done! You are now a Kentucky preschool teacher! Your Kentucky teaching certificate is valid for five years. However, you must complete the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program during your first year of teaching. This program is an electronic Intern Management System designed to track your progress and introduce you to teaching in Kentucky.
Continuing Education for Kentucky Preschool Teachers
Every five years, you must renew your Kentucky teaching certificate. When renewing it the first time, you must:
- Complete Section I of the Application for Certificate Renewal/Duplicate
- Have your school superintendent complete Section II, verifying that you have completed a minimum of three years of full-time teaching experience in the past five years (alternatively, to meet the recency requirement you may claim 6 semester hours of college credit – your college must verify this)
- Make check/money order for renewal fee payable to Kentucky State Treasurer
- Complete 15 graduate hours of college credit or complete half of the Continuing Education Option requirements (this involves a ranking system based upon the number of years you have taught and offers various, professionally meaningful continuing education activities for you to complete)
The second five-year renewal of your certificate follows the same procedure as above, with the exception that you may complete an approved master’s degree program consisting of 32 graduate hours, or complete your Continuing Education Option requirements. Subsequent five-year renewals only require you to show that you have taught for three years full-time in the past five years or have completed six semester hours of college credit.
Requirements for Child Care Providers in Kentucky
Some childcare centers are not affiliated with the Kentucky Department of Education, as the state’s preschool programs are. These programs must still be regulated, however, and are under the jurisdiction of the Kentucky Department of Health and Family Services. All child care centers in Kentucky must have a director who meets these requirements:
- Is 21 years old or older
- Has a high school diploma or GED
- Only works as a child care director during the times the center is open
The director of a Type I center, which serves at least 4 children in a nonresidential setting or at least 13 children in a residential setting, must meet ONE of the following educational requirements:
- Has an associate degree in Early Childhood and Development
- Has an associate degree in another field plus 12 hours of child development training and two years of full-time experience working with children
- Has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Development
- Has a master’s degree in Early Childhood and Development
- Has a bachelor’s or master’s degree in another field plus 12 hours of child development training
The director of a Type II child care facility (in which there are 7 to 12 children being cared for at a private residence) must meet these same requirements, or have 12 hours of child development training and one year of full-time child care experience AND have or obtain 6 hours of training in child day care program administration.
Kentucky Preschool Teacher Salaries
According to 2018 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, preschool teachers in Kentucky are paid at rates that are comparable to the national average, even though the same can’t always be said of other professions in the state. This is thanks to the legacy of the Tier I and Tier 2 Preschool Partnership Grants administered by the Kentucky Department of Education to foster high-quality early childhood services.
The salary ranges for those teachers, as well as preschool administrators and ECE special educators in the state is listed here (median, top 25% and top 10%).
Preschool Administrators: $40,720 – $49,560 – $61,620
Preschool Teacher: $28,960 – $43,220 – $56,880
Preschool Special Educator: $54,460 – $61,440 – $67,700
Even brighter prospects are on the horizon for all three career paths, according to the Kentucky Career Center. Administrators can expect a job growth rate of 13.9 percent between 2016 and 2026, while preschool teachers will enjoy an 11.4 percent increase during the same period – both of them higher than the national rate. Combined, they are expected to offer nearly 400 openings each year from both new job creation and existing positions being vacated as teachers retire.
But the real story is in special education, where an impressive 20 percent increase is expected in positions by 2026. With higher pay rates and more growth, preschool special educators have a lot to look forward to in Kentucky.
As the largest combined metro area in Kentucky, the Louisville/Jefferson County area offers a large public school system offering preschool services along with many private providers:
- Jefferson County Public Schools
- La Petite Academy
- Primrose School
- Harvey Browne Preschool
- Cadence Academy
- Bright Horizons
- The Gardner School
- Evergreen Christian Preschool
- Providence Childcare and Preschool
At public and private preschools in the greater Jefferson County region, preschool teachers and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $40,530
- 75th Percentile – $51,250
- 90th Percentile – $68,530
- Median – $23,330
- 75th Percentile – $31,730
- 90th Percentile – $49,230
Preschool teachers in Fayette county not only come out ahead of their colleagues on salary, but, in the top 10 and top 25 percent of the profession, they beat the national numbers as well. They are employed in schools that include:
- Fayette County Public Schools
- Fayette Cooperating Preschool
- Growing Together
- La Petite Academy
- Community Montessori School
- Milk & Honey Preschool
- The Lutheran School of Lexington
- Michael’s School
Schools and learning centers in the greater Lexington-Fayette area offer preschool teachers, early childhood special educators, and administrators salaries that fall within these ranges:
- Median – $44,900
- 75th Percentile – $53,030
- 90th Percentile – $62,900
- Median – $29,070
- 75th Percentile – $45,040
- 90th Percentile – $60,890
Special Education Preschool Teachers
- Median – $53,760
- 75th Percentile – $63,640
- 90th Percentile – $74,100
Bowling Green has a variety of public and private preschools where teachers may find employment, including:
- Warren County Public Schools
- Montessori School of Bowling Green
- Peanut House Preschool
- Emmanuel Day Care-Preschool
- Plum Tree Educational Services
At preschools in Bowling Green, teachers can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $28,190
- 75th Percentile – $46,270
- 90th Percentile – $56,300
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_ky.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 Kentucky Career Center 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.