Requirements for Early Childhood Education Jobs in Rhode Island

The efforts of Rhode Island’s preschool teachers to offer a balanced and comprehensive education for the state’s youngest learners are made easier through the nationally acclaimed, state- and federally funded Rhode Island Pre-Kindergarten Program, which offers pre-K classes to eligible children in the state. As of the 2019-20 school year, there are 78 pre-K classes statewide providing 1,420 children with free preschool programs.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, the number of preschool teachers in the state is expected to hold steady at 1,450 between 2016 and 2026.

Rhode Island recognizes the immeasurable value of providing quality early childhood education programs and has made it a priority to do so. That means preschool teachers in the state must prove themselves to be up to the task by having the right education and qualifications. The Rhode Island Department of Education is responsible for reviewing the credentials of all prospective preschool teachers in the state and issuing the Early Childhood Education Certificate to those who are qualified.

If you’re ready to learn more about becoming a preschool teacher in Rhode Island, review the following steps:

Earn at Least a Bachelor’s Degree
Pass the Required Rhode Island Exams
Apply for an Early Childhood Education Teaching Certificate
Renew Your Preschool Teaching Certification



Step 1. Earn at Least a Bachelor’s Degree

Rhode Island preschool teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in order to become a certified early childhood education teacher through the Rhode Island Department of Education. As part of your academic requirements, you must also graduate from an approved pedagogical preparation program specifically for early childhood education teachers. You can find these programs in the education departments of Rhode Island schools and universities.

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As you complete your initial degree and early childhood education teacher preparation program, you can expect to take courses in:

  • Social work and early childhood education
  • Materials and methods for education in the arts
  • Early childhood education best practices
  • Educating children and youth with disabilities
  • Early childhood development: birth through eight years of age
  • Early care and education for newborns to children three years of age
  • Early childhood dual language development
  • Developmental literacy and language arts
  • Mathematics in pre-kindergarten through the second grade
  • Student teaching in early childhood settings

You will start the student teaching segment of your early childhood teacher preparation program as you near the completion of your degree. This is an important part of your teacher training where you will work in a preschool classroom environment, putting into practice the skills you have been learning over the previous four years.

Before you can start your student teaching you will need to accumulate at least 60 hours of field experience. Your student teaching assignment will last for at least 12 weeks.

Alternate Pathway

You can also become eligible for a Rhode Island Early Childhood Education Teaching Certificate by fulfilling specific course requirements. This route can be particularly useful for out-of-state candidates who have not completed a Rhode Island-approved teacher preparation program in early childhood development. To take this route you will still need to meet the Rhode Island testing requirements and earn at least a bachelor’s degree.

As part of your education you must complete at least six semester hours of early childhood student teaching and at least 24 semester credits in the following areas:

  • Child growth and development
  • Methods and curriculum in early childhood education
  • Service and identification of children with special needs
  • Community, family, and child relationships
  • Reading readiness and developmental reading
  • Health and nutrition for the young child



Step 2. Pass the Required Rhode Island Exams

To meet the preschool teacher certification requirements in Rhode Island you will need to choose a series of tests to complete:

  • Option 1:
    • Praxis II Education of Young Children
    • Praxis II Early Childhood: Content Knowledge


  • Option 2:
    • Principles of Learning and Teaching Test K-6
    • Elementary Multiple Subjects Test
      • Reading and Language Arts subtest
      • Mathematics subtest
      • Social Science subtest
      • Science subtest

Although passing either series of tests will qualify you to earn a teaching certificate in early childhood education, the first testing option focuses more on subjects that are relevant to the preschool teacher job description. The second testing option is geared more towards prospective kindergarten and early grades primary school teachers. All tests are administered by Education Testing Services (ETS).

Praxis II Education of Young Children

You will be allotted two hours to complete the Praxis II Education of Young Children exam, which is made up of 90 multiple-choice and three constructed-response questions, taken from six main subject areas:

  • Early childhood development – 14 percent
  • Supporting and teaching diverse children – 12 percent
  • Creating developmentally-appropriate learning environments – 15 percent
  • The teaching and learning instructional and assessment process – 20 percent
  • Community, family, and professionalism – 19 percent
  • Demonstrated knowledge in these fields through constructed written responses – 20 percent

Praxis II Early Childhood: Content Knowledge

You will also have two hours to complete the Praxis II Early Childhood: Content Knowledge exam. This is comprised of 120 multiple-choice questions taken from six main subject areas:

  • Language and literacy – 31 percent
  • Mathematics – 25 percent
  • Social studies – 13 percent
  • Science – 13 percent
  • Health and physical education – 9 percent
  • Creative and performing arts – 9 percent

Testing Centers in Rhode Island

ETS maintains five testing centers in Rhode Island where you can take these exams:

  • In Cumberland at the Prometric Testing Center located on 1300 Highland Corporate Drive, Suite 102A
  • In Providence at 1 Hilton Street, Room 1170A
  • In Warwick at the Prometric Testing Center located on 2346 Post Road, Suite 104
  • At Salve Regina University in Newport
  • At the University of Rhode Island in Kingston



Step 3. Apply for an Early Childhood Education Teaching Certificate

At this point you will have fulfilled all the major requirements for preschool teacher licensure in Rhode Island and will be ready to complete an Educator Certification General Application Form. Along with the application, you will also need to submit the following:

  • Official transcripts from the educational institution where you completed your degree and teacher preparation program in early childhood development
  • Score reports for any tests that were not reported directly to the Department of Education

When you are completing your application for certification, make sure to indicate you are applying for a certificate as an Early Childhood Education Teacher for grades PK-2, certification code #11101.

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All your application items can be submitted to:

Rhode Island Department of Education
Office of Educator Quality and Certification
255 Westminster Street, 4th Floor
Providence, RI 02903-3400

Once you have received your certification you can start applying for preschool teacher jobs in Rhode Island through resources such as the Department of Education’s employment website.

Out-of-State Preschool Teachers

If you are already a certified preschool teacher in your home state you may be eligible to receive a Rhode Island teaching certificate based on reciprocity. To be eligible for this you must:

  • Have passed the Rhode Island examination requirements or their equivalent
  • Have comparable student teaching and education experience
  • Have one of the following:
    • Completed a teacher education program in early childhood development that is approved by your home state within the past five years
    • Currently hold a full and valid preschool teaching certification in your home state

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 Your Preschool Teaching Certification

You can upgrade your initial early childhood education teaching certification after three years by participating in and completing Rhode Island’s Local Educator Evaluation System. This is considered by the state’s Department of Education to be the most effective model for promoting effective teachers and developing valuable educators.

As part of the Local Educator Evaluation System you will complete a professional growth model with concrete goals, as well as an assessment and evaluation of this at least three times a year, including one final evaluation at the end of every school year. You will also receive teaching evaluations in three key areas of your performance:

  • The learning achievements of your preschool students
  • Demonstration of professional practice as a preschool teacher
  • Effective management of your professional responsibilities

Once you have earned a passing score on your year-end teacher evaluation for at least three years you will be eligible to upgrade your teaching certification to a five-year Professional Certificate. To upgrade your Professional Certificate to the next level you will need to continue to participate and advance in the Local Educator Evaluation System.

Many preschool teachers in Rhode Island also choose to improve their professional qualifications by furthering their education with a master’s degree, such as an M.Ed., MATL, or M.A.T. Earning a master’s degree in education that includes additional graduate level courses relating to early childhood education and development is one of the most concrete means of demonstrating a commitment to your field. Educational institutions throughout Rhode Island and online offer graduate-level coursework and degrees that are highly relevant to improving your preschool teaching qualifications. A master’s degree will prepare you for:

  • Leadership roles as a preschool teacher and early childhood education expert
  • Optimized skills and abilities as a preschool teacher or director
  • Understanding advanced principles and techniques in the field of early childhood education and development

Rhode Island Preschool Teacher Salaries

Good news for preschool teachers, preschool special education teachers, and preschool administrators in Rhode Island: salaries for these professionals beat out the national average at all levels— shown here are the ranges, from the median to the top 25% to the top 10%:

  • Preschool Teachers: $30,350 – $35,530 – $42,840
  • Preschool Special Education Teachers: $71,770 – $82,580 – $94,970
  • Preschool Administrators: $54,010 – $65,860 – $75,490

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also provides salary ranges for these early childhood educators and administrators in the state’s largest metro area, Providence-Warwick:

Providence-Warwick RI-MA

From state and federally funded programs to private preschools, early education in the Providence metro area is widely available. Just a sampling of some of the preschool programs here include:

  • The Children’s Workshop
  • East Side Nursey School
  • Way to Grow Inc.
  • Angel Care Montessori
  • French American School of Rhode Island
  • A Child’s University
  • Providence Head Start

Preschool teachers, preschool special education teachers, and preschool administrators in Providence working for these and other programs can earn salaries that fall within these ranges:

Preschool teachers:

  • Median: $29,780
  • 75th percentile: $36,160
  • 90th percentile: $41,240

Preschool special education teachers:

  • Median: $70,120
  • 75th percentile: $81,210
  • 90th percentile: $94,110

Preschool administrators:

  • Median: $53,510
  • 75th percentile: $66,900
  • 90th percentile: $77,310
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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 Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training 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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