Requirements for Early Childhood Education Jobs in Oregon

Oregon’s efforts to improve access to, and the quality of, preschool programs is creating a lot of opportunities for the state’s current and aspiring early educators.

Currently, Oregon is home to two state-funded programs: the Oregon Pre-Kindergarten (OPK) program and Preschool Promise, both of which are designed to provide early learning to the state’s lowest income and highest need learners at the preschool level.

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Thanks to the passing of the Student Success Act in 2019, Oregon has committed an additional $400 million in early education funding, which is expected to increase access to the high-quality, state-funded preschool programs like OPK and Preschool Promise. This increase in funding will also support the state’s early intervention and early childhood special education initiatives.

Job projections through the Oregon Employment Department reveal an increase in the number of preschool teachers, special education preschool teachers, and preschool administrators in the coming years. In 2016, there were about 7,700 of these professionals in Oregon. By 2026, this number is projected to rise by about 1,200 to a total of 8,910.

To meet certification requirements and become a preschool teacher in Oregon, you will need to complete the following steps:

Earn a Degree in Education and Early Childhood Development
Complete Oregon’s Testing Requirements
Apply for an Oregon Teaching License
Renew and Upgrade Your Preschool Teaching License



Step 1. Earn a Degree in Education and Early Childhood Development

As you consider what it takes to become a preschool teacher in Oregon, the first requirement will be to earn at least a bachelor’s degree. For new prospective preschool teachers, this should be in the field of education and include a teacher preparation program in early childhood education. You can earn your degree and teacher certification as part of an undergraduate program or as part of a master’s degree program.

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Undergraduate Programs – If you complete your academic requirements as part of an undergraduate program, you will be taking a variety of classes that relate both to education in general as well as to early childhood education specifically.

Once you graduate from your program you will be eligible for an Initial Teaching License with authorization to teach students who are as young as three years old up to fourth graders.

If you are teaching on an Initial License, Oregon State law requires you to upgrade it within your first six years of employment, which requires earning graduate-level credits. For this reason, many preschool teachers continue on to earn a master’s degree.

Master’s Programs – If you complete a master’s degree such as an M.A.T., M.Ed. or MATL, it must include a focus on early childhood education. This option is appropriate for prospective preschool teachers who already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field but still need to earn credits for authorization to teach at the early childhood level.

Upon graduating from your program you will be eligible for a Standard Teaching License allowing you to teach students who range from three years old to fourth grade.

Whatever degree and teacher preparation program you choose to complete, make sure the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission has approved it. A program that results in eligibility for a teaching license in early childhood education will include course subjects such as:

  • Childhood development, including aspects related to:
    • Cognitive and language development
    • Social and emotional development


  • Familial, social, and cultural aspects of early childhood development
  • Early childhood curriculum creation and integration of subjects including:
    • Mathematics and science
    • Social studies
    • Health and nutrition
    • Language development
    • Music, art, and drama


  • Classroom management to accommodate children with disabilities and special abilities

The teacher education program you complete will include a student teaching segment, a critical opportunity where you work under the close supervision of an experienced preschool teacher who will help you translate your theoretical knowledge into real-world classroom applications.



Step 2. Complete Oregon’s Testing Requirements

One of the ways of proving you fulfill the specified competencies in the Oregon preschool teacher job description is by passing a series of tests. To be eligible for a preschool teaching license in Oregon you will need to pass the following exams:

  • Early Childhood Education exam
  • Essential Academic Skills exam
  • Civil Rights exam

These are administered by ORELA (Oregon Educator Licensure Assessments), a program that is part of Pearson Education. You can take these ORELA exams at testing locations throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, such as:

  • In Beaverton near Portland at 10700 Southwest Beaverton Hillsdale Highway, Suite 595, Park Plaza West, building 3
  • In Eugene at 1590 East 13th Avenue, room 270
  • In Salem at two locations:
    • 4000 Lancaster Drive Northeast in Building 2 room 101
    • 1660 Oak Street Southeast in Suite 250


  • In Gresham near Portland at 26000 Southeast Stark Street
  • In Medford at 3560 Excel Drive, Suite 105

Early Childhood Education Exam

The Early Childhood Education exam is comprised of approximately 150 multiple-choice test questions, and you will have up to three hours to complete these. Exam questions are drawn from four main subject areas:

  • Child development and learning – 21 percent
    • Factors that influence child development from birth through age eight
    • Understanding assessments for young children
    • Creation of positive learning environment for young children


  • Language and literacy development – 29 percent
    • Development and promotion of listening and speaking skills
    • Foundations of literacy development in young children
    • Instructional process for reading in young children
    • Strategies for developing and encouraging writing skills


  • Curriculum learning – 36 percent
    • Developing and understanding a balanced curriculum in various subject areas for young children


  • Professional responsibilities and relationships – 14 percent
    • Relationship building with parents, community agencies, and related professionals
    • Responsibilities and roles of an early childhood educator

Essential Academic Skills Exam

The Essential Academic Skills exam will ensure you have the essential skills needed to be an effective teacher no matter what subject you specialize in. This exam includes three sub-tests that will evaluate your basic knowledge of:

  • Reading – 45 multiple-choice questions to be completed in one hour
  • Writing – 36 multiple-choice questions and one writing assignment to be completed in 75 minutes
  • Mathematics – 45 multiple-choice questions to be completed in one hour

If you are an Oregon resident completing the process for a teaching license for the first time you should take the Essential Academic Skills exam offered by ORELA. However if you have already completed any of the following exams, these will be accepted in place of the Essential Academic Skills exam:

  • Washington Educator Skills Test – Basic (WEST-B)
  • California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST)
  • Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators Reading, Writing, and Mathematics

Civil Rights Exam

Also known as the Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Educational Environment Examination, this exam is made up of 60 multiple-choice questions that cover five main subject areas:

  • Federal and state laws pertaining to discrimination, civil rights, and ethics
  • Federal and state court decisions that have set the precedents for today’s standards
  • Ensuring cultural awareness and equality for all students
  • Interacting with a diverse student population
  • Ensuring equal access for all students



Step 3. Apply for an Oregon Teaching License

To submit an application for licensure as a preschool teacher you will need to fill out an  Application for Educator License or Education – Form C-1 and submit this along with official transcripts from your degree program to the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission. If you completed a bachelor’s degree you can apply for an Initial Teaching License, if you completed a Master’s Degree and have experience teaching you can apply for a Standard Teaching License.

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Once you receive your license you can apply for preschool teacher jobs in Oregon through websites like the state’s Oregon Education Jobs website.

Out-of-State Candidates

If you are not a resident of Oregon you will have the option of applying for two different licenses based on your qualifications:

If you completed an early childhood education teacher preparation program in a different state and have never held a teaching license, you can apply for a Transitional Teaching License

If you are an experienced and licensed teacher in a different state you can apply for an Initial Teaching License.

Ready to get started? Check out our comprehensive list of ECE degrees by State at various levels to determine what program is right for you.


Step 4. Renew and Upgrade Your Preschool Teaching License

An Initial Teaching License is valid for three years. You have the option to renew this license up to two times before you must upgrade to an Initial II Teaching License.

Ultimately you will need to upgrade your license to a Standard Teaching License, a process that is commonly done by earning a master’s degree such as an M.A.T., M.Ed. or MATL. Earning at least 10 credits in the subject of early childhood education towards a master’s degree will qualify you to upgrade your Initial Teaching License to an Initial II Teaching License.

Having a master’s degree will also improve your professional qualifications and thereby make you a more effective preschool teacher. With a master’s degree you will additionally be more competitive when applying for new jobs or being considered for promotions.

As a new preschool teacher you can find additional resources, support, and curriculum ideas through professional organizations like the Oregon Association for the Education of Young Children (OAEYC).

Oregon Preschool Teacher Salaries

Preschool teachers and administrators in Oregon earn salaries that approach the national average, in most cases. However, special education early childhood educators enjoy salaries that are significantly higher, with a median income that beats the national average by about $20,000.

Statewide in Oregon, preschool teachers, preschool special ed teachers, and preschool administrators earn salaries that fall within these ranges (median, 75th and 90th percentiles):

  • Preschool teachers: $29,020 – $34,440 – $38,850
  • Preschool special education teachers: $76,220 – $92,510 – $111,130
  • Preschool administrators: $43,970 – $57,460 – $69,580

Area-specific salaries according to metro area are shown below, along with a sampling of preschool programs in each area:

Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

Preschool and pre-K programs through the Portland Public Schools, which are offered through a partnership with the Preschool Promise and Head Start programs, are offered to all families, although low-income families are given priority. Many other private preschool programs are also offered throughout the region. Some of the preschool programs in the Portland metro area include:

  • Albina Early Head Start
  • Neighborhood House Head Start
  • Portland Parks Preschool
  • Portland Montessori Collaborative
  • KinderCare
  • Small Wonders School

At these and other preschools in the Portland metro area, ECE professionals can expect salaries within these ranges:

Preschool teachers:

  • Median: $29,440
  • 75th percentile: $34,740
  • 90th percentile: $38,830

Preschool special education teachers:

  • Median: $79,480
  • 75th percentile: $97,300
  • 90th percentile: $116,490

Preschool administrators:

  • Median: $39,610
  • 75th percentile: $52,720
  • 90th percentile: $68,170


Montessori schools, Head Start programs, religious-affiliated programs, and YMCA programs are just a sampling of the preschool programs available in Eugene:

  • Eugene Family YMCA
  • Eugene Waldorf School
  • Parkside Community Preschool
  • Eugene Montessori School
  • Grace Community Preschool
  • Sunshine Preschool
  • KinderCare

Preschool teachers, special education preschool teachers, and preschool administrators in Eugene earn the following salaries:

Preschool teachers:

  • Median: $26,140
  • 75th percentile: $29,610
  • 90th percentile: $33,750

Preschool special education teachers:

  • Median: $62,870
  • 75th percentile: $74,770
  • 90th percentile: $83,070

Preschool administrators:

  • Median: $54,670
  • 75th percentile: $60,690
  • 90th percentile: $64,500


A number of preschool programs are available through the Salem-Keizer Public Schools, including tuition-based preschool programs, title-funded preschool programs, and programs available through Preschool Promise and Head Start. There are also many private preschool programs available throughout the metro area, such as:

  • Bud to Blossoms Children’s School
  • Adventures Limited
  • Salem Montessori School
  • Kaleidoscope Preschool
  • Creative Discoveries Preschool

ECE professionals working in both private and state-funded preschools in the Salem area typically earn within these ranges:

Preschool teachers:

  • Median: $27,360
  • 75th percentile: $34,670
  • 90th percentile: $40,250

Preschool special education teachers:

  • Median: $62,410
  • 75th percentile: $73,770
  • 90th percentile: $80,030

Preschool administrators:

  • Median: $38,040
  • 75th percentile: $60,510
  • 90th percentile: $75,300
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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 – 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 Oregon Employment Department and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database – Employment conditions in your area may vary.

All salary and job growth data accessed in September 2019.

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