Oklahoma continues to be a national leader when it comes to providing the state’s earliest learners access to universal preschool. According to the National Institute for Early Childhood Education, nearly 74% of all four-year-olds in the state were enrolled in preschool programs during the 2017-18 school year. Nearly 100% of all school districts in Oklahoma now offer pre-K programs.
Oklahoma also offers the Oklahoma Pilot Early Childhood Program, a state-funded program for children birth to age three who are identified as at-risk according to federal poverty guidelines.
In addition to this state’s commitment to universal preschool, it’s also one of the only states in the country to require pre-K teachers to hold bachelor’s degrees and teaching certificates, thereby ensuring their salaries are competitive with other grade-level teachers in the state.
According to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, there were about 6,100 preschool teachers, special ed preschool teachers, and preschool administrators in Oklahoma in 2016. By 2026, this number is expected to increase by about 700 jobs, to 6,870.
With the right education and credentials, your aspirations of working with the youngest learners can become a reality with a fulfilling career in Oklahoma’s pre-K system.
If you want to become a public preschool teacher in Oklahoma, complete these steps to achieve state certification:
|Complete a Teacher Education Program in Early Childhood Education|
|Take and Pass the Required Certification Examination|
|Apply for Early Childhood Education Certification|
|Renew and Maintain your Standard Educator Certification|
Step 1. Complete a Teacher Education Program in Early Childhood Education
If you want to become a preschool teacher in Oklahoma, you must first successfully complete a teacher education program approved by the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation (OCTP). There are currently 20 approved programs in early childhood education, and 12 special education ECE programs.
You may also qualify for licensure through the Department’s Alternative Placement Program if you possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university in early childhood education or a related degree, and you achieved a GPA of 2.5 or better.
You must be able to show proof that you have at least two years of experience in the field of early childhood development or early childhood education OR you have completed post-baccalaureate coursework in this field.
Placement in this program requires the completion of the Application for the Oklahoma Alternative Placement Program, official transcripts showing the completion of the required education, and a current resume.
Oklahoma’s Pilot Early Childhood Program
In addition to state-funded four-year-old preschool programs throughout the state, Oklahoma’s Pilot Early Childhood Program is designed for children from birth to age three who are identified as at-risk, according to Federal Poverty Guidelines. Qualifying programs must meet all licensing requirements as set forth by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Staff requirements include the following:
- Lead teachers must hold early childhood certification through Oklahoma Department of Education.
- Assistant teachers must hold a minimum of an associate’s degree in child development or a related field.
- Classroom aides must hold a minimum of a high school diploma and a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential
Step 2. Take and Pass the Required Certification Examination
Upon the completion of an approved teacher preparation program or upon being approved for the Alternative Placement Program, you must take and pass Certification Examinations for Oklahoma Educators through the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation:
- Oklahoma Professional Teaching Examination (PK-8): Early Childhood
- Oklahoma Subject Area Test: Early Childhood Education
The examinations are administered by Pearson Vue at testing centers throughout the U.S. You can search here for the testing centers located near you.
Step 3. Apply for Early Childhood Education Certification
Upon completion of all necessary pre-certification requirements, you must complete the Oklahoma Teaching Certificate Application. If you have received your degree from a state-approved teacher education program, you may also use the Oklahoma Education Single Sign-On System to apply for certification. After you register for an account with the system, choose the “Oklahoma Educator Credentialing System.”
However, if you are applying for certification through the Oklahoma Alternative Placement Program and you have completed all pre-certification requirements, you must complete a Request for Teacher Competency Review Panel Assessment, which includes a written examination of why you want to become a teacher. Upon submission of the Request for Teacher Competency Review Panel Assessment, you will be required to appear before the Review Panel, who will then determine if they will grant you a recommendation to receive an alternative teaching certificate to teach preschool in Oklahoma.
Upon receipt of your alternative teaching certificate in Oklahoma, you must work to complete the professional education component of the program, which includes the completion of:
- Bachelor’s degree: 270 clock hours (18 semester hours)
- Master’s degree: 180 clock hours (12 semester hours)
- Doctorate degree: 180 clock hours (12 semester hours)
Step 4. Renew and Maintain your Standard Educator Certification
Certification renewal is completed through the Oklahoma Education Single Sign-On system. A standard certificate is valid for a period of 5 years. To qualify for certificate renewal, you attach documentation of school district-approved professional development points. Each school district sets requirements for the number of points that must be accrued in each renewal cycle.
If you hold an alternative initial teaching certificate in Oklahoma, you must ensure you complete all of the necessary requirements (outlined in Step 3) during the first three years of your initial certification, as an initial teaching certificate is NOT renewable.
Oklahoma Preschool Teacher Salaries
Working as a preschool teacher, special education preschool teacher, or preschool administrator in Oklahoma comes with competitive pay and plenty of opportunities through the state’s funded preschool programs and through private preschools.
The following numbers from 2018 reveal average salaries for early childhood educators at the median, 75th and 90th percentiles:
- Preschool Teachers: $27,740 – $36,280 – $44,160
- Special Education Preschool Teachers: $40,750 – $47,440 – $52,980
- Preschool Administrators: $37,540 – $49,220 – $62,760
Below are salary stats for preschool teachers, special education preschool teachers, and preschool administrators in the state’s largest metro areas:
All pre-K programs through Tulsa Public Schools are free and all-day. Other free pre-K programs in Tulsa are offered through Head Start programs and locations like these:
- CAP Tulsa
- Cornerstone Child Development Centers
- Crosstown Learning Center
Additional preschool programs are available through private providers such as:
- New Haven Day School
- McClure Early Childhood Center
- ABC Preschool & Kindergarten
Preschool teachers, special education preschool teachers, and preschool administrators working in Tulsa can expect to earn salaries that fall within these ranges:
- Median: $24,550
- 75th percentile: $33,460
- 90th percentile: $39,680
Preschool special education teachers:
- Median: $41,270
- 75th percentile: $47,630
- 90th percentile: $52,640
- Median: $39,060
- 75th percentile: $52,250
- 90th percentile: $61,830
Oklahoma City’s free preschool offerings include more than 25 Head Start and Educare programs, which is in addition to the free Pre-K programs offered through Oklahoma City Public Schools.
There is also a large number of private school offerings at the preschool level throughout the Oklahoma City area, such as:
- The Village Montessori School
- Primrose School
- The Goddard School of Edmond
- Westmore Child Development Center
- Nature Explorers Preschool – Oklahoma City Zoo
Salary ranges for preschool teachers, special education preschool teachers, and preschool administrators throughout Oklahoma City earn salaries in these ranges:
- Median: $27,010
- 75th percentile: $36,030
- 90th percentile: $46,060
Preschool special education teachers:
- Median: $41,890
- 75th percentile: $50,640
- 90th percentile: $60,650
- Median: $38,260
- 75th percentile: $46,020
- 90th percentile: $56,950
Lawton is home to a variety of preschool programs, from state-funded pre-K through the Lawton Public Schools to Head Start and private preschool programs. Pre-K students can attend their resident school or the Learning Tree Academy. The following is a sampling of preschool providers in Lawton:
- Lawton Elementary School
- Lawton Christian School
- KCA Head Start
- Trinity Christian Academy
- The Lawton Taylor Academy
- Learning Tree Academy
Preschool teachers, preschool special ed teachers, and preschool administrators in Lawton earn the following salaries:
- Median: $19,130
- 75th percentile: $33,900
- 90th percentile: $40,120
Preschool special education teachers:
- Median: $44,620
- 75th percentile: $49,650
- 90th percentile: $57,810
- Median: $31,280
- 75th percentile: $38,400
- 90th percentile: $54,870
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_ok.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 Oklahoma Employment Security Commission 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.