Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is responsible for early learning efforts throughout the state. In addition to offering guidance for the educational and social development of preschoolers, the department also administers the Missouri Preschool Program. MPP offers short-term funding to help kickstart high quality early care and education programs.
The Department also coordinates the Early Learning Blended Program to assist local education agencies in combining funding sources to help cover costs for early learning programs.
As the early learning quality assurance report framework takes shape in the coming years, the Department will also be working to keep early childhood educators motivated, providing assessments and guidance along the way. With the ultimate goal of setting benchmarks for quality and the guidance needed to achieve them, the framework aims to improve early childhood education by integrating all the valuable health, education, and social services that are critical at the pre-K level.
Since preschool teachers are a fundamental part of that system, developing the right qualifications and approach to molding pre-K students will be an essential requirement for teachers across the state as the quality framework continues to expand.
Review the steps in this guide to learn how to become a licensed preschool teacher through the Missouri Board of Education:
|Earn a Relevant Degree and Complete a Teacher Prep Program|
|Complete Required Exams and Teacher Performance Assessments|
|Apply for Early Childhood Educator Certification|
|Complete CPE Requirements for License Renewal|
Step 1. Earn a Relevant Degree and Complete a Teacher Prep Program
A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education is required for early childhood educator licensure in Missouri. This certification will allow you to work in a public or private school setting with young learners from birth to grade three.
The Missouri Board of Education offers a list of schools with approved programs that include the requisite 60 semester hours of coursework in early childhood education.
Early childhood education programs include pedagogy courses and student teaching rotations, during which time you will participate in supervised teaching experiences.
Early Education program courses include:
- Behavior Management
- Educational Psychology
- Introduction to Education
- Childhood Assessment
- Emerging Literacy
- Elementary Math
The state of Missouri requires you to pass several tests during the teacher education program to establish basic competencies and to qualify for certification. These tests are generally taken at school, throughout the course of the program, rather than solely after graduation. Some of these tests are taken on admission, some later on during the program, and some upon completion of the program. All of them must be passed in order to qualify for early educator certification in Missouri.
You must also receive a recommendation from the designated official for teacher education at your college or university upon graduation in order to be licensed.
Missouri General Education Assessment (MoGEA)
You must pass this test before you can be admitted to a state professional education program. It tests understanding of subjects such as English, writing, math, science and social science. This new test replaces the College BASE (CBASE) test. The MoGEA is an internet-based assessment with four multiple-choice subtests and one writing assignment. You must pass all five subtests.
Your educator preparation program will set the passing score for these tests. The tests may be scheduled at Pearson Vue test centers in many cities in Missouri, and nationwide. There is a $49 test fee for all subtests, or a $25 fee for a single subtest. You can register to take the test here.
Step 2. Complete Required Exams and Teacher Performance Assessments
There are a number of assessments that the state requires teachers to take:
Missouri Educator Profile (MEP) – You are required to complete this test on entry into a Missouri educator program. This is an assessment of your work style as compared to that of a successful teacher, and is the basis for a consultation with your counselor before program admission.
This is not a test in the traditional sense; there is no grade. The results of this assessment will not affect your admission to college.
The test is Internet-based, so you can take it anytime. There is a test fee of $22 for the MEP. Register for the MEP here.
Paraprofessional Test – If you have fewer than 60 semester hours, and if you want to work as a paraprofessional in Special Education, or in a Title I setting in Missouri, you must pass the Paraprofessional test. The test assesses your knowledge of English language and basic math skills.
This is an Internet based test, available at test centers in many cities in Missouri. Tests are by appointment and there is a test fee of $35. You can register for the test here.
Missouri Content Assessment – In order to attain certification, you will have to pass the appropriate Missouri Content Assessment – the Early Childhood Education Content Assessment. As of September 2014, the Missouri Content Assessment replaces the Praxis II series for Missouri educator certification candidates.
This is a computer-based test made up of 100 multiple-choice questions. It is administered by appointment at Pearson Vue centers across Missouri and nationwide. Passing scores are to be set by the Missouri State Board of Education. There is a $77 fee for this exam. You can schedule the exam here.
You may also purchase practice tests online. There is a fee of $29.95 for each practice test.
Step 3. Apply for Early Childhood Educator Certification
When you have successfully completed an approved, 4-year Early Education teacher preparation baccalaureate program from an accredited university, and have passed the applicable state certification tests, you are eligible to be licensed as a teacher in Missouri and receive an initial professional certificate.
You must complete an online initial application and submit it to your school. Your school will add required documentation and forward it to the state for processing.
You must also obtain a background clearance from the state, which consists of a criminal background check and fingerprints. You must pre-register online through the State Highway Patrol’s Missouri Automated Criminal History Site (MACHS.)
Your initial license is valid for four years.
Step 4. Complete CPE Requirements for License Renewal
After four years as a teacher in Missouri, you can earn a Continuous Career Education Certificate (CCEC). The CCEC is valid in Missouri for 99 years. To earn the CCEC, you must:
- Complete four years of Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) approved teaching experience. This includes at least half-time, contracted employment in Missouri’s public schools or in accredited nonpublic schools. Substitute teaching or serving as a teacher’s aide or assistant will NOT count.
- Be part of a district-provided mentoring program for two years. Your school will assign a teacher to be your mentor.
- Successfully complete 30 contact hours of professional development. This may include college credits.
- Participate in a beginning teacher assistance program offered by a Missouri college, Regional Professional Development Center (RPDC), or professional teacher organization such as MNEA or MSTA.
- Successfully participate in your employing school’s annual Performance Based Teacher Evaluation process.
- Develop and implement a professional development plan that is on file with the district.
Missouri Preschool Teacher Salaries
According to the state Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, the number of preschool teachers and administrators in Missouri are forecast to increase by about ten percent in the coming decade, right in line with the national average. Special education preschool teachers will also see a respectable 6.7 percent increase.
Altogether, this will create more than 700 openings across the state each year during that period, a combination of new jobs being created and existing positions opening up as teachers and administrators retire.
In January 2019 the federal government awarded Missouri a $6.5 million Preschool Development Grant to fund the Stronger Together Missouri project, which will seek to improve early childhood education through onsite coaching, as well as consultation and professional development. All of this will serve to make teachers more valuable in the state and is expected to improve salaries.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salary ranges for ECE professionals in Missouri in 2018 looked like this (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 both salaries and openings can vary widely depending on what part of the state you are looking at. We’ve included a snapshot of the salary levels and some of the major employers hiring preschool teachers and administrators in major metropolitan areas throughout the state below.
Preschool administrators in the Kansas City area handily beat the state median salary by nearly $10,000 annually, working at some of the following schools:
- Kansas City Public Schools
- Woodland Early Learning Community School
- Bright Horizons
- La Petite Academy
- Rhyme and Reason Preschool of the Arts
- Montessori Academy
- Spectrum Station
- Gerner Family Early Education Center
- Colonial Preschool
- Kids in Christ Preschool
- Canterbury Academy
Public schools and private learning centers in the greater Kansas City area offer salaries that fall within these ranges:
- Median – $47,520
- 75th Percentile – $61,300
- 90th Percentile – $77,270
- Median – $25,640
- 75th Percentile – $31,000
- 90th Percentile – $39,480
Special Education Preschool Teachers
- Median – $53,120
- 75th Percentile – $63,890
- 90th Percentile – $78,000
St. Louis boasts the highest top-end salaries for preschool administrators in the state, coming in even higher than the national average for the top ten percent.
- Louis Public Schools
- La Petite Academy
- Creative Nursery and Preschool
- SouthSide Early Childhood Center
- Union Preschool
- Cornerstone Center for Early Learning
- New City School
- First Congregational Preschool
- City Garden Montessori
- University City Children’s Center
Schools and learning centers in the greater St. Louis area offer preschool teachers, early childhood special educators, and administrators salaries that fall within these ranges:
- Median – $39,890
- 75th Percentile – $56,660
- 90th Percentile – $84,990
- Median – $26,800
- 75th Percentile – $35,320
- 90th Percentile – $45,910
Special Education Preschool Teachers
- Median – $25,550
- 75th Percentile – $42,450
- 90th Percentile – $59,300
Springfield’s preschool teachers have a slightly lower median salary than most of their counterparts across the state, but they can make up for it when they reach the top ten percent of the profession, where the area offers the highest salary of any city in the state.
- Springfield Public Schools
- Parents’ Cooperative Preschool
- La Petite Academy
- Kids First Preschool
- Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool
- Shady Dell Early Childhood Center
- University Child Care Center
- Creative Learning Center Preschool
Public schools and private learning centers in Springfield offer salaries to preschool teachers, early childhood special educators, and administrators that fall within these ranges:
- Median – $42,680
- 75th Percentile – $53,200
- 90th Percentile – $63,370
- Median – $24,470
- 75th Percentile – $37,100
- 90th Percentile – $51,460
Special Education Preschool Teachers
- Median – $41,390
- 75th Percentile – $59,930
- 90th Percentile – $74,940
These are some of the schools in Columbia that administrators and teachers in early childhood education can find work:
- Columbia Public Schools
- Bright Start
- Green Meadows Preschool
- Academy of Early Learning and Childhood
- Down to Earth Preschool
- Countryside Nursery School
- TigerSide Intergenerational Preschool
- Apple School
At preschools in Columbia, teachers and administrators can expect to earn salaries within these ranges:
- Median – $31,210
- 75th Percentile – $45,530
- 90th Percentile – $59,430
- Median – $20,150
- 75th Percentile – $23,440
- 90th Percentile – $26,880
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_mo.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 Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development 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.