In the decade leading up to 2020, it is estimated that early childhood and elementary teacher employment will grow between 17 and 25 percent. Last year, Oregon counted more than 226,000 state residents under the age of five, and a shortage of teachers specialized in early childhood development.
Being qualified and professionally educated to become a preschool teacher is a requirement for licensure through the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission. Oregon’s strict licensing process ensures top-quality preschool teachers are in place to prepare the state’s next generation of citizens.
To meet the preschool certification requirements 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.
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
- Conferences and communication with parents and guardians
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.
Once you receive your license you can apply for preschool teacher jobs in Oregon through websites like the state’s Jobs and Education webpage.
If you are from a different state 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.
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
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there are 6,090 actively employed preschool teachers (except special education) in the state of Oregon. Licenses to teach are issued and monitored by the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC). This independent state agency’s licensing requirements include completion of an early childhood education teaching program at a state-approved college/university and experience working with children.
The BLS reports that preschool teachers in Oregon earn an annual mean salary of $27,440. Salaries vary according to teacher education and experience as well as location.
It is noted that the city of Corvallis, which has some of the lowest salaries in the state, has the nation’s sixth highest concentration of preschool teachers.
A USA report based on the 2013 BLS national compensation survey states that preschool teacher salaries increased 5.83 percent in 2013.
The following is a comparison of the average annual wage of preschool teachers with those of other early childhood educators in Oregon:
Preschool (except special education): $24,520
Elementary school: $56,020
Preschool special education: $59,990
The future looks bright for preschool teachers. The government predicts that jobs for preschool teachers will increase by 17 percent between 2012 and 2022. In addition, there is a movement in the U.S. to make one year of pre-school mandatory and part of the government-funded school system like kindergarten is now. This will allow all children to begin their school careers on an even footing regardless of their parents’ income level and it will significantly raise preschool teacher salaries.
Bureau of Labor Statistics salary data for early education teachers in Oregon is shown below as of 2013: