To become a licensed preschool teacher in Mississippi and work in the state’s public schools, you’ll need to complete the following steps:
|Complete a Bachelor’s Degree Program or Higher in Child Development|
|Complete the Required Praxis Examinations|
|Apply for a Five-Year Educator’s License|
|Renew your Educator License and Participate in Continuing Education|
The Mississippi Office of Curriculum and Instruction helps school districts improve the readiness and reading achievement of Mississippi students from the critical preschool years all the way through 12th grade. The support and guidance they provide to local districts includes establishing and maintaining standards and requirements for preschool teachers, and coordinating with them to adopt quality ECE curriculum and materials.
Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaborative operates under the Office of Curriculum and Instruction oversees the state’s voluntary pre-k programs in each county and has a separate council for each district. Since public school districts and Head Start affiliates have the operational capacity and expertise needed to manage pre-k programs, they end up serving as the lead partners for these councils. This arrangement is ideal for teachers, preschoolers and families since it ensures that local districts have a lot of influence over how programs operate.
Only teachers working in public schools are required to achieve licensure through the Mississippi Department of Education. However, teachers in private pre-k programs must possess, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related area. Of course, that’s on top of the less formal qualifications that preschool teachers must bring to the table: compassion, understanding, care, and commitment. The challenge of shepherding a new generation through its formative years isn’t an easy one, but Mississippi is well-served by teachers with the dedication and training to do the job right.
Step 1. Complete a Bachelor’s Degree Program or Higher in Child Development
Educator licenses in Mississippi and the associated degree requirements are organized as follows:
- Class A: Bachelor’s license
- Class AA: Master’s license
- Class AAA: Specialist license
- Class AAAA: Doctorate license
A teacher’s license in child development, which is defined in Mississippi as pre-k through grade 5, is considered a Special License. Requirements for licensure as a child development educator vary according to the type of license being sought:
Class A License
To qualify for a Class A license in Mississippi, you must possess a bachelor’s degree or higher with a child development emphasis from a regionally/nationally accredited institution of higher learning and with official verification of program accreditation by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences or the National Association for Education of Young Children.
There are 4 programs accredited by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences in Mississippi.
Class AA License
To qualify for a Class AA license in Mississippi, you must meet the requirements for a Class A license in child development and possess a master’s degree in child development or possess a Master in Education degree.
Class AAA License
To qualify for a Class AAA license in Mississippi, you must meet the requirements for a Class A license in child development and possess a specialist degree in child development or a Master of Education degree.
Class AAAA License
To qualify for a Class AAAA license in Mississippi, you must meet the requirements for a Class A license in child development and possess a doctoral degree in child development or a Doctor of Education degree.
Step 2. Complete the Required Praxis Examinations
To become a licensed preschool teacher in Mississippi, upon completion of the required education in child development, you must take and pass the following Praxis examinations:
- Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching for Early Childhood (5621)
- Praxis II: Education of Young Children (5024)
The content categories of both examinations include:
- Childhood development and learning: 17 percent
- Observation, documentation, and assessment: 13 percent
- Developmentally appropriate practices: 13 percent
- Professionalism, family, and community: 13 percent
- Content pedagogy and knowledge: 24 percent
- Knowledge of teaching: 20 percent
All Praxis examinations are administered by ETS, who provides computer-based tests through its testing centers throughout Mississippi:
- Prometric Testing Center in River Oaks Drive in Flowood
- University Testing Center, University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg
- Webb Hall, Meridian Community College in Meridian
- Rice Hall, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State
- F. Yerby Conference Center, University of Mississippi, Oxford
- Hinds Community College, Hinds Boulevard, Raymond
- Prometric Testing Center, Spicer Drive, Tupelo
You can learn more about registering, scheduling, and taking the Praxis examinations here.
Step 3. Apply for a Five-Year Educator’s License
Once you have determined you meet the requirements of one of the above-described licenses, you may apply for an educator license by downloading a Licensure Application Packet or applying online through the Mississippi’s Educator Licensure Management System (ELMS).
Once you have completed the application and collected all required documentation, you must mail the complete packet to:
Mississippi Department of Education
Office of Educator Licensure
P.O. Box 771
Jackson, MS 39205
Step 4. Renew your Educator License and Participate in Continuing Education
To renew your five-year educator’s license, you must complete the following:
Class A License:
- Complete at least 10 continuing education units (CEUs) in child development or a job-skill related area
- Complete at least 3 semester hours in child development and 5 CEUs in child development
- Complete at least 6 semester hours in child development
Class AA License/Class AAA License/Class AAAA License:
- Complete at least 3 semester hours in child development or a job-skill related area
- Complete at least 5 CEUs in child development
Early childhood educators often opt to pursue graduate work in the area of early childhood education and special education. Not only do specialized master’s in education (M.Ed. M.A.Ed., M.S.Ed., M.S.E., or M.Ed.L) satisfy requirements for higher levels of licensure, they also assure a higher salary and confer the level of mastery in the field needed to serve in administration.
Mississippi Preschool Teacher Salaries
According to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, jobs for both preschool administrators and preschool teachers are due to increase by nearly three percent between 2016 and 2026. Between the two, it’s expected there will be nearly 300 openings per year as a result of both new jobs being created and vacancies in existing positions as teachers retire.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that early childhood education professionals in Mississippi earned salaries within the following ranges as reported in 2018 (median, top 25%, and top 10%):
Preschool Administrators: $36,960 – $49,080 – $64,910
Preschool Teacher: $25,700 – $32,910 – $41,410
Preschool Special Educator: $45,630 – $54,150 – $61,030
But salaries and employment prospects both vary across the state, which is why we have listed the major employers for Mississippi’s largest metropolitan areas below, together with the salary data specific to those regions.
Jackson Public Schools alone offers 29 pre-kindergarten classes in 21 different elementary schools, which cuts down on private preschools in the area, but opportunities remain at schools such as:
- Jackson Public Schools
- Meadowbrook Preschool
- Beth Israel Preschool
- Jackson Academy
- New Jerusalem Christian Academy
- Little Samaritan Montessori
- Children’s Choice Learning Center
- The Little Light House
At preschools in Jackson, teachers and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $30,970
- 75th Percentile – $46,410
- 90th Percentile – $60,510
- Median – $23,540
- 75th Percentile – $29,000
- 90th Percentile – $36,190
The area around Biloxi offers some of the highest salaries in the state for preschool teachers, many of whom work at the following schools:
- Gulfport School District
- Hope Academy
- Kid Academy
- Ovation Learning Center
- Gulfport Academy
- Good Shepherd Christian Academy
- Hope Academy
- Biloxi Public Schools
- Cedar Lake Christian Academy
- Pascagoula-Gautier School District
Schools and learning centers in the greater Gulfport-Biloxi area offer salaries that fall within these ranges:
- Median – Estimate Not Released
- 75th Percentile – Estimate Not Released
- 90th Percentile – Estimate Not Released
- Median – $34,000
- 75th Percentile – $44,890
- 90th Percentile – $49,750
These are some of the larger employers for preschool administrators and teachers in the Hattiesburg area:
- Hattiesburg Public School District
- Montessori Children’s House
- Early Encounters Preschool and Learning Center
- Creative Kids
- Angel Academy
- West Point Christian Preschool
- Travillion Headstart Center
- Learning Tree Preschool
At schools in Hattiesburg, preschool teachers and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $30,410
- 75th Percentile – $37,840
- 90th Percentile – $47,310
- Median – $19,500
- 75th Percentile – $29,020
- 90th Percentile – $42,290
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_ms.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 Mississippi Department of Employment Security 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.