Requirements for Early Childhood Education Jobs in Maine

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) oversees more than 200 public preschool programs statewide, each of which operates under the jurisdiction of its local school district. Teachers working at these public preschools must be certified to teach in Early Childhood, which involves meeting Maine DOE mandated educational, experiential and examination requirements.

Salaries for preschool teachers in Maine rank among the top 20 nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The majority of early childhood education jobs in Maine are found in the larger cities of Portland, Biddeford, Bangor, Rochester, and Lewiston.

Review the steps in this guide to learn how to become a preschool teacher in Maine:

Complete a Degree in Early Childhood Education and Teacher Education Program
Pass the Necessary Tests for Certification in Maine
Apply for Your Maine Early Childhood Educator Teaching Certificate
Maintain and Upgrade Your Maine Teaching Certificate



Step 1. Complete a Degree in Early Childhood Education and Teacher Education Program

The Maine Department of Education requires that all prospective preschool teachers complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and an approved teacher education program.

Teacher education programs completed outside of the state of Maine are usually acceptable, as long as the institution that hosted the program is nationally or regionally accredited. If you complete your college education in a foreign country, you must have your academic credentials evaluated by the Academic & Credential Records Evaluation & Verification Service.

As an aspiring preschool teacher in Maine, you will likely major in Early Childhood Education. Some schools in Maine also offer the option of majoring in Child Development and Family Relations and pursuing certification in early childhood education.

The types of courses you will study regardless of your major should include:

  • Psychology of Childhood
  • Perspectives on Infants, Toddlers and Young Children
  • Science for the Young Child
  • Mathematics for the Young Child
  • Children and Young Adult Literature
  • Language and Literacy in Early Childhood
  • Young Children with Special Needs
  • Interventions for Families with Young Children
  • Teaching Early Childhood Special Education (a minimum of 3 semester hours)

As part of your teacher education program in Maine, you are expected to complete a student teaching component. You will be placed into an age-appropriate classroom setting and will assist the classroom teacher with duties. You may also take over the classroom duties.

You must implement all standards that are currently used in teaching in Maine, including Common Core, InTASC (Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium) and ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education). The classroom teacher and your university supervisor will grade your performance. (Note: if you have one year of teaching experience under a certificate in Early Childhood, the student teaching requirement is waived).

Alternative Pathway

Maine has an alternate pathway if you already have a bachelor’s degree but did not complete a teacher education program. Under this pathway, you must complete the following to become certified as an Early Childhood Teacher:

  • Liberal arts English (3 semester hours)
  • Liberal arts math (3 semester hours)
  • Liberal arts science
  • Liberal arts social studies
  • 3 semester hours of teaching early childhood special education
  • 3 semester hours in children’s literature
  • 3 semester hours of language development and early literacy
  • 3 semester hours in numeracy for young children
  • 3 semester hours in child development/developmental psychology
  • 3 semester hours in science for young children
  • 3 semester hours in infant/toddler development
  • 6 semester hours in two of the following areas:
    • Additional early literacy
    • Early learning environments
    • Advanced child development
    • Social studies for the young child
    • Assessment of young children
    • Observation of young children
    • Family studies
    • Creative arts

Licensure of Residential Child Care Facilities in Maine

Not all preschool teachers in Maine work within the public school system. Many may begin their careers in private school settings or childcare facilities. The Maine Department of Education also licenses residential childcare facilities and maintains requirements for those that staff these facilities. Under state law, staff at licensed childcare facilities must meet the following qualifications:

  • Have no convictions of crimes involving misrepresentation of facts
  • Have no convictions of crimes involving violence or threats of violence
  • Have no convictions of sex offense crimes
  • Have no history of child or adult abuse, neglect or exploitation
  • Show no evidence of current substance abuse
  • Show no evidence of impaired ability
  • Pass a physical examination

Additionally, each facility must employ a Chief Administrative Officer who must meet these requirements:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Have two years of experience in supervising and managing child care programs/staff



Step 2. Pass the Necessary Tests for Certification in Maine

The Maine Department of Education requires that you pass examinations in basic skills and within the early childhood education content area.

Praxis I: Basic Skills Exams

You must pass the following basic skills exams:

Praxis II- Content Area Exams

All prospective preschool teachers in Maine must also pass:

Praxis exams are administered by the Educational Testing Service and offered in Maine at centers in:

  • South Portland
  • Presque Isle
  • Farmington
  • Bangor



Step 3. Apply for Your Maine Early Childhood Educator Teaching Certificate

When you are ready to apply for your initial teaching certificate in Maine, download the Initial Certification Application.

Make sure to enclose:

  • Official, sealed college transcripts
  • Copies of any certificates you hold in other states
  • The fee of $100 (payable by check to Treasurer, State of Maine or by credit card)
  • Copy of your ETS score report

Mail the entire application and supporting documents to Department of Education, Certification Office, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0023.



Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your Maine Teaching Certificate

Congratulations! You are now a certified preschool teacher in Maine! You are likely teaching under a Provisional Certificate, which is the initial certificate usually issued to new teachers. It is valid for two years and is not renewable.

Once you have taught for two years under the Provisional Certificate, you must apply for a Professional Certificate, if you meet these qualifications:

  • You have completed your school district’s induction program for new teachers
  • You have taught full-time in Maine for the past two years under the Provisional Certificate
  • You have met the requirements of your individual Professional Certification Action Plan, developed with your district
  • You have received a positive recommendation from your district
  • You have completed six semester hours of college credit in Early Childhood

You will receive the proper forms to apply for your Professional Certificate from your district. When you receive this certificate, it is valid for five years. Its renewal requires you to use a form from your district, pay the applicable fees, and complete six semester hours of college credit in each area in which you are certified to teach.

If you become certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, you may apply for a Master Certificate in Maine. This certificate is also valid for five years.

Maine Preschool Teacher Salaries

As the population of young children increases throughout the country, the need for quality preschool education programs has been growing. Educators and policy makers are becoming increasingly aware of the long-term benefits that a high quality preschool education provides.

The field of preschool teaching is projected to grow 4.67% in Maine over the ten year period ending in 2020 according to the Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information. On average, 46 preschool teacher positions will become available each year during this period. 84.8% of these jobs will come from the need to replace preschool teachers who will leave the workforce.

There were 1,240 preschool teachers employed in Maine in 2013. The median preschool teacher salary in Maine that year was $27,510.

In Maine, children must be at least four years old by October 15th of the school year in which they are enrolling. More than 200 public school preschool programs served thousands of children throughout Maine in 2014.

The Maine Department of Education encourages the development of preschool programs, but local school units have the final say in implementing a public preschool program. To facilitate high quality public preschool programs in Maine, the Department of Education works with the Department of Health and Human Services.

These agencies created the State Agency Interdepartmental Early Learning Team (SAIEL) to enhance preschool education in Maine. This program enables a greater sharing of resources such as professional development, funding, and best practices so that high needs preschool children will gain the skills to be successful in kindergarten.

Additional information on 2013 Maine preschool teacher salaries is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Bangor ME
Lewiston-Auburn ME
Portland-South Portland-Biddeford ME
Portsmouth NH-ME
Rochester-Dover NH-ME
Northeast Maine nonmetropolitan area
Southwest Maine nonmetropolitan area

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