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.
But certification is just the start. Teaching preschool comes with a unique set of challenges that only uniquely dedicated individuals can overcome. Shepherding a classroom full of four-year-olds through early learning and socialization exercises is not a job for the meek; shaping future generations in their most formative years is a weighty responsibility that requires both dedication and preparation.
Luckily, as a preschool teacher in Maine you’ll get plenty of support. The state DOE publishes an open-source, research-based, whole child curriculum called Pre K For ME that offers all the material you need in a preschool classroom that aligns with both Maine standards and the federal Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework. It also administers the Preschool Development and Expansion Grants, which deliver millions in funding for a variety of public and private programs throughout the state.
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).
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:
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading – score of 156
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing – score of 162
- Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics – score of 150
Praxis II- Content Area Exams
All prospective preschool teachers in Maine must also pass:
- Education of Young Children – score TBD by the Maine Department of Education
Praxis exams are administered by the Educational Testing Service and offered in Maine at centers in:
- South Portland
- Presque Isle
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
Maine is one of the few states in the union that is expected to lose jobs in early childhood education over the coming decade. The state Center for Workforce Research and Information estimates that education administrator positions will decrease by 5 percent between 2016 and 2026, while preschool teachers will see a more modest 3.6 percent drop.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides state-wide salary information for Maine as of 2018. The ranges shown here represent median, top 25% and top 10%:
Preschool Administrator: $43,720 – $56,760 – $64,060
Preschool Teacher: $34,060 – $39,400 – $49,630
Preschool Special Educator: $35,140 – $37,950 – $39,650
Below, you’ll find data for the same salary ranges for ECE professionals in the larger metropolitan areas of Maine, together with some of the major preschool employers in those areas.
Portland has a wide range of schools that employ preschool teachers and administrators, including:
- Portland Public Schools
- South Portland School Department
- Bright Horizons
- The Academy for Active Learners
- ARWO Learning Center
- Roots and Fruits
- Breakwater School
- Portland Co-Op Nursery
- The Creative Play House
Schools and learning centers in the greater Portland area offer preschool teachers and administrators salaries that fall within these ranges:
- Median – $39,580
- 75th Percentile – $56,420
- 90th Percentile – $62,700
- Median – $32,270
- 75th Percentile – $37,150
- 90th Percentile – $42,180
Despite being a smaller city, Bangor offers the highest salary rates for preschool administrators and teachers in the state.
- Bangor School Department
- Bangor Montessori School
- Watch Me Shine
- Children First Pre-School
- Adventure Preschool
- ABC Preschool
At preschools in Bangor, teachers and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $45,070
- 75th Percentile – $56,770
- 90th Percentile – $63,170
- Median – $37,350
- 75th Percentile – $46,310
- 90th Percentile – $57,370
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_me.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 Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information 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.