Early childhood educator licensure in Massachusetts allows you to work as a teacher with children from the grades of Pre K through second. This is the license to pursue if you wish to become a preschool teacher in Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Early Childhood Educators Union (MECEU) has sponsored a bill that is currently being reviewed by legislators to improve the quality of early childcare across the Commonwealth. This would be achieved through the creation of a providers’ organization designed to handle negotiations with the Commonwealth in recruiting and retaining qualified preschool teachers.
Follow these four steps to become a preschool teacher in Massachusetts:
Step 1. Complete a Degree and Educator Preparation Program in Early Childhood Education
All candidates who want to become preschool teachers in Massachusetts must hold a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved educator preparation program.
You may either complete these educational requirements (along with experience and examination requirements) and then apply for an Initial License, or complete the bachelor’s degree and examination requirements and apply for a Preliminary License, which allows you to teach while completing the approved educator preparation program.
If you completed an educator preparation program in a state other than Massachusetts, your credits should be accepted by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as long as the state in which the school is located is a member of the NASDTEC Interstate Contract or your program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. If you completed your education in a foreign country, you must have your credits evaluated by one of the agencies listed on this page.
Coursework that you will take as part of your educator preparation program in Early Childhood Education will include:
- Foundations of Early Intervention and Education
- Language Development and Literacy in Early Childhood
- Family Systems
- Positive Learning Environment for Children With and Without Disabilities
- Instructional Strategies for All Young Children
- Science and Mathematics for All Young Children
- Planning for Meaningful Early Childhood Curriculum
Experience Required for Massachusetts Preschool Teachers
Under Massachusetts law, you must fulfill 300 hours of field-based experience prior to licensure as a preschool teacher. This experience is usually in the form of a practicum or internship, otherwise known as student teaching. Aspiring early childhood licensees must complete 100 hours of experience in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten; and 200 hours of experience in Grades 1 and 2. At least one of these settings must include children with disabilities (licensure in Massachusetts in early childhood education is formally titled Teacher of Students With and Without Disabilities).
A supervisor from your school’s educator preparation program and a supervising teacher practitioner will evaluate your work in the classrooms. Together, they will assess your performance against the standards for Early Childhood teachers. The law states that your student teaching must occur within a Massachusetts public school, approved private school, preschool approved by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education Care, an educational collaborative, or any other Massachusetts school that requires teachers to be licensed.
Step 2. Pass the Examinations Required for Massachusetts Early Education Teachers
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requires all preschool teachers to pass the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL). Basic tests are usually not required, but if your college or university educator preparation program does require it, you will be instructed to take the MTEL Communications and Literacy Skills Test.
The MTEL tests consist of multiple-choice and open-response questions, and take about 4 hours each to complete. Aspiring Early Childhood Teachers in Massachusetts must pass the following MTEL tests:
- Early Childhood (with a qualifying score of 240)
- Foundations of Reading (with a qualifying score of 240)
Practice tests for the above exams may be found at the MTEL website.
The MTEL tests are offered at Pearson VUE centers. In Massachusetts, they may be found in:
- South Boston
Step 3. Apply for Your Massachusetts Early Educator Teaching License
If you have completed the above education, examination and experience requirements, you are ready to apply for your Initial Teaching License. You may either begin the application process online here or, if you prefer a hard copy application, download and complete the Application Package. You must submit the following supporting documentation with your application for initial licensure:
- Official, sealed transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended
- $100 application fee (payable via credit card or check/money order to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts)
- Copies of foreign credential evaluations (if applicable)
- Copies of teaching licenses from other states (if applicable)
Print your social security number on every document you send with your application. Mail everything to Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Educator Licensure, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148.
The Department makes no promises on how long it will take to review and process your application and issue your license. You may check the status of your application online anytime.
If you have a bachelor’s degree and have completed examination requirements but have not yet completed an educator preparation program, you may apply for your Preliminary License. Follow the same procedures as above, applying either online or via hard copy. Once issued, you are expected to work under this license for no more than five years while completing your educator preparation program.
Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your Massachusetts Teaching License
Well done! You are now a licensed preschool teacher in Massachusetts! You must fulfill certain responsibilities to maintain this license and upgrade it when possible.
Converting an Initial License to a Professional License
Your Initial License is valid for five years. During that time, you are expected to complete the following requirements that will allow you to upgrade your license to a Professional License:
- Teach for three years (minimum)
- Complete a Teacher Induction Program during your first year of teaching
- Complete 50 hours of mentoring in addition to the Teacher Induction Program
- Complete one of the following options:
- An approved content-based seminar/program sponsored by your school district consisting of at least 50 contact hours
- A Master’s Degree in your content area or in Education
- If you already hold a master’s degree, complete a 12 credit academic program with at least 9 credits appropriate to Early Childhood
- Become a Master Teacher by being certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
- Complete a State Performance Assessment Program (if available)
Continuing Professional Development for Massachusetts Preschool Teachers
Your Professional License is valid for five years. To renew it, you must complete 150 Professional Development Points and complete the Application for Renewal of Professional License. Varieties of activities are classified as Professional Development and are listed here. Some examples of activities not approved for Professional Development included short, informational training sessions; and technical assistance.
Child Care Provider Certification in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care must license child care centers and providers in the Commonwealth. Staff who work in these facilities should receive Professional Certification through the Department. Three levels of certification exist:
Level I – Infant-Toddler or Preschool Teacher:
- 21 years of age or have a high school diploma,
- Completed a 3 credit course in Child Growth and Development, Child Psychology or Developmental Psychology
- Nine months of work experience (if you want to qualify as an infant-toddler AND preschool teacher, you must have 3 months work experience with each age group or have completed a college practicum with each age group)
- An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education can substitute for 6 months of work experience
- A bachelor’s degree in another field can substitute for 3 months of work experience
- One continuing education unit (10 hours) in Infant and Toddler Development, Care or Planning can substitute for 3 months of work experience
Level II – Lead Infant-Toddler or Preschool Teacher:
- 21 years old
- Meet the above requirements to be a Preschool Teacher,
- Completed an additional 9 credits in Early Childhood Education, with 3 credits in curriculum, program planning or behavior management and 3 credits in infant-toddler care and education
- If you have a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, this satisfies the education requirement
- Four CEU’s may substitute for 3 college credits
- Experience – based upon your education:
- High school diploma= 3 years of experience
- CDA or other certificate = 27 months
- Associate degree in Early Childhood/related field=18 months
- Bachelor’s or higher degree in Early Childhood/related = 9 months
- Student teaching/practicum may substitute for 9 months of experience
Level III – Director I:
- Must meet the above requirements for Lead Teacher
- Complete additional two credits/3 CEUs in Day Care Administration
- Complete additional two credits/3 CEUs in Early Childhood Education
- Meet work experience requirements for Lead Teacher
- Have additional 6 months Lead Teacher work experience
Level III – Director II:
- Meet all educational requirements for Director I
- Complete additional 2 credits/3 CEUs in Advanced Day Care Administration; Supervision of Families and Community; Day Care Policy; Health and Safety in Early Childhood Programs; or Children with Disabilities
- Meet work experience requirements for Lead Teacher
- Have additional 6 months Lead Teacher work experience
Massachusetts Preschool Teacher Salaries
Massachusetts has a large number of preschool teachers for its population level. It had the second highest concentration of preschool jobs in the county in 2013 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The Boston area had the fourth highest preschool teacher employment level of any metropolitan area in the country that year.
The rate of growth of early childhood educator jobs in Massachusetts is expected to be 17% over the ten-year period ending in 2022, according to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (ECLWD).
684 preschool teacher jobs a year are expected to become available in Massachusetts through 2022. 62.3% of them will come from the replacement of teachers leaving the workforce.
The average 2013 preschool teacher salary in Massachusetts was $34,410 according to the ECLWD. Preschool teachers entering the workforce averaged $23,640, while those with experience made $39,790 on average.
Salaries varied a great deal throughout the state according to the ECLWD:
For comparison, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a detailed breakdown of preschool teacher salary data in Massachusetts by percentile: