Vermont’s early education system is a model of success, thanks to the passage of Act 166 in 2016, which lays out requirements for all Vermont school districts to offer universal, publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs for all three- and four-year-olds, as well as five-year-olds not already enrolled in kindergarten.
In addition to state-administered programs through local school districts, 2017 saw federally-funded Head Start programs partner with 79 local education agencies throughout the state to provide universal pre-K at 49 Head Start-LEA pre-K sites, thereby ensuring every child in the state has access to a quality pre-K education.
As a result, a full 75% of all four-year-olds were enrolled in pre-K in Vermont in 2018, a truly impressive enrollment rate rarely found in other states.
If you want to become part of Vermont’s nationally acclaimed preschool system, you’ll need to come armed with a passion for education and the right degree and credentials. Here’s what you’ll need to do to meet Vermont’s basic ECE licensure guidelines:
|Earn a Degree in Early Childhood Development or Education|
|Consider the Preschool Teaching Options in Vermont|
|Maintain and Improve Your Preschool Teaching Qualifications|
Step 1. Earn a Degree in Early Childhood Development or Education
The preschool teacher certification requirements in Vermont state that all preschool teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development or a closely related field.
You must also have at least one year of experience teaching preschoolers before you will be allowed to work as a preschool teacher. In fulfilling this experience requirement, you may also be eligible for a Vermont Department of Education teaching license with an endorsement in early childhood education.
If you are earning a state Department of Education teaching license, you will also need to complete an approved teacher preparation program in early childhood education. You can complete this program through the education department at your college or university. It will focus on developing your pedagogical skills in early childhood education. As part of this you will have the opportunity to complete a student teaching segment where you will be placed in a preschool classroom with a supervising teacher. In Vermont you will find:
- 3 undergraduate early childhood education teacher preparation programs
- 2 post-baccalaureate teacher preparation programs in early childhood education
- 2 master’s degree teacher preparation programs in early childhood education
You may wish to consider the post-bac and graduate teacher preparation programs, especially if you have already completed a bachelor’s degree, or if you want to work at a level higher than a basic preschool teacher. Earning a Department of Education teaching license in early childhood education will allow you to teach a range of students from preschoolers to third graders.
As you complete your degree at the undergraduate level, you can expect to take courses in:
- Child psychology
- Reading and language development
- Creating an integrated preschool curriculum
- Teaching preschool students with special needs
- Human rights and responsibilities
- Preschool classroom management
- Preschool and elementary school language arts methods
- Preschool teaching practicum and student teaching
Earning a master’s degree such as an M.A.T., M.Ed. or MATL with an emphasis in early childhood education or closely related field will allow you to be an advanced-level preschool teacher and give you additional professional options.
Step 2. Consider the Preschool Teaching Options in Vermont
Vermont’s preschools employ several levels of preschool educators, which each have corresponding minimum requirements:
- Preschool Teaching Assistant – high school diploma or equivalent, at least 18 years of age, and at least one of the following:
- Completion of a 30-hour course in child development approved by the Child Care Services Division
- Completion of a college course that is at least 3 credits in childhood development within one year of hire
- Preschool Teaching Associate – one of the following requirements:
- Associate’s degree in early childhood development
- Associate’s degree in human/child development
- Associate’s degree in a closely related field
- A Child Care Certificate from Community College of Vermont plus two years of experience with preschoolers
- Completion of a human services program in child development or early childhood education that results in a professional child care certificate
- Completion of at least 12 credits and four college courses relating to early childhood education, plus at least three years of preschool work experience
- A Certificate of Completion from the Registered Child Care Apprenticeship Program
- Preschool Teachers – bachelor’s degree at minimum and the completion of a teacher preparation program (requirements discussed above in Step. 1)
- Master Preschool Teacher – two years of experience with preschoolers plus one of the following education credentials:
- Master’s degree in early childhood education
- Master’s degree in human/child development
- Master’s degree in another closely related subject area
While preschools must meet the minimum staff qualification requirements set forth by the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services’ Child Care Services Division, many schools choose to go above and beyond these regulations and develop their own preschool teacher job description. Individual preschools can set their own degree, certification, education, and experience requirements for preschool teachers, and preschools with the highest standards do just this.
Considered to have a high percentage of competent preschool teachers, the Vermont Head Start Program was established to prepare economically disadvantaged preschool students for success in primary school. In 2018, Head Start programs across the state taught 936 students in nurturing preschool environments. One of the ways this program maintains the quality of its education is by hiring top-notch educators with a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license from the state’s Department of Education.
Step 3. Maintain and Improve Your Preschool Teaching Qualifications
Each preschool will also determine any continuing training or education requirements you must complete to maintain your employment. These must include the minimum annual professional development requirements mandated by the Child Care Services Division, and may also include a requirement such as maintaining your Department of Education teaching license.
To meet the minimum Child Care Services Division requirements, all preschool educators must complete at least 12 hours of professional development activities. These may be applied to an educator’s Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP). Professional development activities can be things like college courses, workshop trainings, or professional lectures that pertain to the subject areas of:
- Child development
- Learning environments
- Effective nurturing and teaching
- Professional behavior and ethics
- Preschool program management
- Parent partnerships
- Child health and safety
The Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP) referenced is also something in which preschool educators will participate. The IPDP is a plan you will develop to increase your skills and knowledge as a preschool educator by doing the following:
- Assessing your current skills and level of education
- Identifying specific areas where you can improve
- Developing strategies for improvement
- Giving yourself opportunities to reflect and demonstrate your personal growth
Maintaining a Department of Education Teaching License
If your preschool employer requires you to earn and maintain a teaching license with an endorsement in early childhood education, you will need to meet a separate set of license renewal requirements through the Vermont Department of Education, in addition to the requirements you must meet that are required by the Child Care Services Division.
You will need to renew your teaching license after three years, and to do this you must earn at least 45 hours of professional development activities that advance your knowledge and capabilities to be an effective preschool teacher. One of the ways you can accomplish this is by earning college credits in a relevant field, with one credit being equal to 15 hours of professional development. Later on you will have the opportunity to upgrade your teaching license, a process that also involves completing an Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP).
Improving Your Preschool Teaching Qualifications
Improving your professional qualifications as a preschool teacher is an important part of maintaining your edge in a competitive marketplace, however this can be equally important for your preschool students who will benefit from a teacher who is up-to-date on the most current pedagogical and child-psychology theories or practices.
Because earning an advanced degree will fulfill the Child Care Services Division’s annual professional development requirements and the renewal requirements for a teaching license, many preschool teachers choose to earn a master’s degree such as an M.A.T., M.Ed. or MATL with an emphasis on early childhood education or another closely related subject.
This will not only provide you with a greater depth of understanding as an early childhood educator, but will also make you eligible for the most advanced preschool educator position, that of a Master Preschool Teacher. These professionals are at the top of their field, enjoy the most professional options, and also hold the highest level of responsibility.
You may also consider learning about the field through one of the state’s professional organizations. These agencies can provide you with additional information about early childhood education laws, employment, and professional development opportunities:
- Vermont Head Start
- Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children – VAEYC
- Vermont Early Childhood Alliance
- Vermont Child Care Provider Association – VCCPA
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.
Vermont Preschool Teacher Salaries
Salaries for the professionals in Vermont’s early childhood education community, including preschool teachers, special education teachers, and administrators come out above what is found virtually anywhere else in the country. For example, preschool teachers in Vermont earn a median salary of $32,530 – about $3,000 more than the national median, while special education teachers in ECE earn a median salary of $60,850 – about $5,000 more than the national median.
The following numbers reveal what Vermont’s early educators earn at the median, 75th, and 90th percentile levels:
- Preschool Teachers: $32,530 – $38,360 – $47,490
- Preschool Special Education Teachers: $60,850 – $76,850 – $92,980
- Preschool Administrators: $48,100 – $55,570 – $75,950
The following information provides an overview of what early childhood educators earn in the state’s largest metro area of Burlington:
The salaries for the 790 early childhood educators in the Burlington metro area come out ahead of the state median by about $1,000 annually.
Outside of the area’s district- and Head Start-based pre-k programs, some of the top employers found here include:
- Burlington Forest Preschool
- Discovery Preschool
- Heartworks Preschool
- International Children’s School
- Saint Francis Xavier School
Preschool teachers, special education preschool teachers, and preschool administrators in Burlington can expect to earn:
- Median: $33,300
- 75th percentile: $37,380
- 90th percentile: $40,810
Preschool special education teachers:
- Median: $61,630
- 75th percentile: $81,400
- 90th percentile: $106,560
- Median: $47,190
- 75th percentile: $57,840
- 90th percentile: $75,320
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_vt.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.
All salary and job growth data accessed in September 2019.