Requirements for Early Childhood Education Jobs in Texas

In 2013 there were just 19,670 preschool teachers in Texas working with the state’s 1.8 million preschool aged children. The high demand for early childhood professionals is expected to persist since meeting the qualifications for licensure in Texas takes years.

There are tens of thousands of programs across Texas that employ qualified preschool teachers. These range from daycare centers and private preschools, to religious preschools and Head Start preschool programs.

As an assurance of quality, many preschool programs and teachers elect to voluntarily abide by standards predetermined by state agencies or professional organizations, such as the Texas Education Agency or Texas Early Learning Council, even when not required by law.

The following steps will instruct you on how to become a preschool teacher in Texas who is both qualified and competitive:

Earn a Degree in Early Childhood Education
Consider Different Standards of Preschool Qualifications
Manage and Improve Your Texas Preschool Teaching Credentials



Step 1. Earn a Degree in Early Childhood Education

The qualifications to become a preschool teacher in Texas differ based on the organization that sponsors and manages the preschool program (see specific requirements for each in Step. 2):

  • Head Start – Texas
  • Texas Early Learning Council
  • Texas Education Agency

Earning a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education will provide you with a solid grounding in the field of early childhood development and fulfill certification requirements to become licensed by the Texas Education Agency.

As you complete a degree in early childhood education, you can expect to take courses that focus on the following subject areas:

  • Social and cultural contexts of early childhood education
  • Program and curriculum development for early childhood education
  • Early childhood development and play
  • Involving parents in the education process
  • Theories of curriculum development for kindergarten and preschool
  • Critical perspectives in early childhood education
  • Comparative global early childhood education
  • Different types of early childhood education programs
  • Major theorists in the field of early childhood education

To earn certification through the Texas Education Agency, you will also need to complete an approved teacher preparation program that focuses on early childhood education as part of your degree. This will include a student teaching portion where you will develop hands-on experience in a preschool classroom.

In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree in this field, many prospective and current preschool teachers choose to earn a master’s degree such as an M.A.T., M.Ed. or MATL with an emphasis in early childhood education.



Step 2. Consider Different Standards of Preschool Qualifications

There are a number of state organizations in Texas that share the goal of improving early childhood education, each with a unique set of preschool teacher requirements:

  • Head Start preschool teacher standards
  • Texas Early Learning Council’s Early Childhood Career Lattice
  • State preschool teaching certification from the Texas Education Agency

Head Start Preschool Teachers Standards

The Head Start program in Texas strives to provide quality preschool access to kids from impoverished backgrounds. Statewide this program employs over 2,000 qualified preschool teachers who teach more than 67,500 young Texans annually.

In 2013, the national Head Start program’s goal was to ensure half of all its teachers had at least a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a closely related field. Going forward from this benchmark, in-state Head Start teachers are now typically required to have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or early childhood development.

Also accepted as fulfilling the minimum Head Start program employment qualifications are:

  • Teaching certification from the Texas Education Agency
  • Bachelor’s degree with at least 18 credits in early childhood education or early childhood development

Texas Early Learning Council’s Early Childhood Career Lattice

Created by the governor of Texas, the Texas Early Learning Council’s purpose was and is to develop strategies to improve early childhood education across the state. As the result of years of planning and studies, the Council recently released its Early Childhood Career Lattice, a rubric that defines teaching excellence standards and lays out a course of professional development for the state’s preschool teachers.

Educators can choose to abide by these benchmarks to demonstrate concrete skills and abilities, which are attractive to both preschool employers and the parents or guardians of preschoolers:

  • Entry Level Beginner early childhood educator – high school diploma or equivalent
  • Level 1 – High school diploma or equivalent and 3 education credits related to early childhood education
  • Level 2 – Current and valid Child Development Associate credential
  • Level 3 – Early childhood technical certificate with a one-year certificate
  • Level 4 Intermediate early childhood educator – Associate’s degree in early childhood education or a related field
  • Level 5 – Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field
  • Level 6 Advanced early childhood educator – Master’s degree in early childhood education or a related field
  • Level 7 – Doctoral degree in early childhood education or a related field

Texas Education Agency Teaching Certification

Some preschools may also require you to earn an official Texas state teaching certification. This is conferred by the Texas Education Agency as a Generalist teacher certificate for early childhood (EC) through grade six.

Starting in the 2015-16 school year, this type of certification will be known as a Core Subjects EC-6th grade certification. To gain certification as a Generalist EC-6th grade teacher you will need to complete a corresponding teacher preparation program and tests, in addition to earning at least a bachelor’s degree.

Your specific testing requirements are as follows:

  • Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR) Exam – this exam tests your knowledge of pedagogy for EC-6th You will receive more information about the exam’s content and registration in your teacher preparation program.
  • Generalist EC-6th grade: TExES #191 – starting in the 2015-16 school year this exam will be replaced by the Generalist Core Subjects EC-6th grade TExES #291 exam. The TExES #191 exam’s details include the following:
    • Offered in both paper and computer-based formats
    • 5 hours to complete 140 multiple-choice questions divided among five main subject areas:
      • Reading and English language arts – 32 percent
      • Social studies – 19 percent
      • Mathematics – 19 percent
      • Science – 18 percent
      • Physical education, health, and fine arts – 12 percent

TExES refers to the Texas Examination of Educator Standards, the state’s assessment service administered by the Texas Education Agency in association with Educational Testing Services (ETS). You can register online to take your TExES exam, which is offered at testing locations throughout the state, including in:

  • Houston at 16 locations
  • San Antonio at 8 regional locations
  • Dallas at 6 locations
  • Austin at 6 regional locations
  • Fort Worth at 7 regional locations
  • El Paso at 5 regional locations
  • Arlington at 2 locations
  • Corpus Christi at 4 regional locations
  • Plano at 1 location
  • Laredo at 1 location

Once you have completed at least a bachelor’s degree, a teacher preparation program for a General EC-6th grade teacher, and you have passed your required tests, you will be ready to submit an online application through the state’s Educator Certification Online System (ECOS). Once you have been certified by the Texas Education Agency you will be qualified for preschool teacher jobs that require you to be a state-certified teacher.



Step 3. Manage and Improve Your Texas Preschool Teaching Credentials

If you have a Texas Education Agency preschool teaching certification, you will need to earn 150 hours of approved continuing professional education by attending workshops, earning college credits, or completing online classes that relate to the subject of early childhood education.

If you are a Texas Head Start teacher who does not yet have a teaching certification or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, you can complete your studies towards this goal.

If you are developing your credentials according to the Early Childhood Career Lattice, you can continue to level-up by improving your education and experience.

Whatever preschool teaching qualification you choose to pursue, the common denominator for improving any of these is education. Preschools across the state recognize that teachers who have a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree such as an M.A.T., M.Ed. or MATL in early childhood education have a solid foundation in their field of expertise and are committed to providing the best preschool education possible. In some of the state’s more competitive markets, having a degree in this subject is an entry-level requirement.

To learn more about news regarding preschool teachers, professional events, and educational opportunities, you can consider looking into any of the following Texas organizations:

Texas Preschool Teacher Salaries

A job growth rate of 24.2% is expected in the field of early childhood education during the current ten-year period leading up to 2020, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. This is more than 40% higher than the national rate projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The BLS listed four Texas cities among the country’s highest paying metropolitan areas for preschool teachers in 2013:

Killeen – Number 4
Longview – Number 6
Corpus Christi – Number 9
El Paso – Number 10
The 2013 average preschool teacher salary in Texas was $34,725 according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Preschool teachers entering the workforce averaged $19,488 a year, while those with experience earned an average of $41,669 a year.

Texas preschool teacher salaries varied a great deal throughout the state:

Texas City
Entry-level Salary
Experienced Salary
College Station
Corpus Christi
El Paso
San Antonio
Wichita Falls

Rural areas of Texas can also be high paying areas for early childhood educators. The BLS reported that Texas contained the top two highest paying nonmetropolitan areas in the country in 2013: South Texas was number 1 while Central Texas was Number 2.

Over half of the 19,670 preschool teachers employed in Texas in 2013 were located in two metropolitan areas. 32.4% were located in the Dallas area, while 22% were in the Houston area.

In comparison, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides additional detail on the 2013 Texas Pre-K teacher salaries by location:

Area name
Annual mean wage
Abilene TX
Amarillo TX
Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos TX
Beaumont-Port Arthur TX
Brownsville-Harlingen TX
College Station-Bryan TX
Corpus Christi TX
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington TX
Dallas-Plano-Irving TX Metropolitan Division
El Paso TX
Fort Worth-Arlington TX Metropolitan Division
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown TX
Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood TX
Laredo TX
Longview TX
Lubbock TX
Estimate not released
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission TX
Midland TX
Odessa TX
San Antonio-New Braunfels TX
Sherman-Denison TX
Texarkana-Texarkana TX-AR
Tyler TX
Victoria TX
Estimate not released
Waco TX
Wichita Falls TX
Northwestern Texas nonmetropolitan area
North Central Texas nonmetropolitan area
Eastern Texas nonmetropolitan area
Central Texas nonmetropolitan area
Southern Texas nonmetropolitan area
Gulf Coast Texas nonmetropolitan area

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