According to the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, there were 14,080 preschool teachers, early childhood special educators, and preschool administrators working in the state in 2016. While Wyoming doesn’t have any type of state-funded preschool system in place, the state’s youngest learners here have access to a wide array of preschool and pre-K programs through the federally funded Head Start program and in private, faith-based programs. This means plenty of outstanding professional opportunities in early childhood education in a variety of settings.
Early childhood education is a professional field that’s all about preparing young learners to transition easily into kindergarten and grade school, giving them the inspiration to learn and preparing them with the basic classroom and social skills they’ll need to be successful in school, and in life. If you’re ready for a profession that will allow to make a positive difference in the lives of Wyoming’s earliest learners, then pursuing a career in early childhood education may very well be the perfect fit. But first you’ll need to attain the right education and credentials.
Here’s what you’ll need to do to become a preschool teacher in Wyoming:
|Learn how to Qualify for Preschool Jobs in Wyoming|
|Develop Your Preschool Teacher Qualifications|
|Maintain Your Preschool Teacher Qualifications|
Step 1. Learn How to Qualify for Preschool Jobs in Wyoming
As you research how to become a preschool teacher in Wyoming, you will need to start by learning the state’s basic classification system. Preschools fall into two main categories in Wyoming:
- Those accredited by the State Board of Education – to become a preschool teacher at these facilities you will need to earn a state teaching license as an early childhood educator.
- Those licensed by the Wyoming Department of Family Services – to work as a preschool teacher at these facilities you will need to meet the certification requirements that are determined by the Department of Family Services.
State Board of Education – Becoming a state-licensed early childhood educator requires you to meet the following minimum requirements:
- Earn at least a bachelor’s degree and complete a teaching preparation program for early childhood educators
- Pass Wyoming’s testing and background check requirements
Department of Family Services – The minimum requirements set forth by the Department of Family Services to work in its facilities as a preschool teacher, also referred to as a director, are:
- Complete 10 college credits in any of the following areas:
- Early childhood education
- Child development
- Nursing or any other child-related field
- Have at least one year of experience working with children in a preschool or childcare setting
- Have a high school diploma or GED certificate
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Pass a Wyoming background check
If you obtain a relevant professional credential, such as a teaching license or bachelor’s degree in a field related to early childhood education, the Department of Family Services will accept this in lieu of its education and training requirements. The Department will also consider combinations of education, training, and experience for potential qualification.
Step 2. Develop Your Preschool Teacher Qualifications
Whether you pursue employment with preschools regulated by the Department of Family Services or those that require you to have a state teaching license, you will need to develop specific minimum qualifications. You can also improve your employability by earning additional competitive qualifications.
Earning a Degree in the Early Childhood Education Field
A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education will fulfill the minimum requirements for jobs at preschools licensed by the Department of Family Services. Having a bachelor’s degree is also necessary for anyone pursuing a Wyoming teaching license from the Wyoming Board of Education.
Colleges, universities, and online schools offer bachelor’s degrees in the early childhood education field to residents throughout Wyoming. As you complete an academic program in this subject area you can expect to take courses in:
- Teaching children with disabilities from birth to age five
- Child nutrition and health development
- Multicultural influences on early learners
- Family relationships and childhood development
- Families of children with special needs
- Infant and child developmental psychology
- Observing children for behavior disorders
- Social psychology
- Speech and language development
- Motor development
- Preschool internship, apprenticeship, practicum, or student teaching experience
The final portion of your program will include a segment where you gain experience in a preschool classroom. If you are working towards a state teaching license, you will need to also complete a teaching preparation program for early childhood educators. This can be done alongside your degree and will focus extensively on pedagogical development and culminate with placement in a student teaching assignment.
Earning a Wyoming Teaching License
Once you have earned a bachelor’s degree and completed a teaching preparation program for early childhood educators you will need to complete a few additional tasks:
- Take an exam on the Wyoming Constitution and US Constitution at any school district administration office; if you have taken academic courses on these subjects you may qualify for an exemption
- Get fingerprinted for a criminal background check; your local school district can provide you with specific information about where you can be fingerprinted
- Submit an application packet for licensure to the Professional Teaching Standards Board
Fulfilling Department of Family Services Training Requirements
If you are seeking employment at a preschool that is licensed by the Department of Family Services you will need to complete the following additional training requirements before you can start working as a preschool teacher or director:
- Staff orientation training at the preschool where you are hired
- First aid and CPR certification
- Four areas of essential training that must be repeated every two years:
- Blood borne pathogens training
- Fire safety training that is approved by the fire authority
- Sanitation training that is approved by the health authority
- Recognizing and reporting child abuse
Going Beyond the Minimum Requirements
Although it is essential to meet the preschool teacher minimum requirements in Wyoming, it often takes more than meeting just the minimum for employment in the competitive preschool teaching market. Preschools throughout the state can set their own standards for hire, and many require a bachelor’s degree in the field of early childhood education. Additional preschools may also require or prefer teachers who hold a state teaching license.
One example is the state’s Head Start preschool program. A partner of the federal Head Start initiative, Wyoming’s Child and Family Development agency serves more than 700 preschool children and their families annually throughout eight counties as part of the state’s Head Start program. A typical preschool teacher job description with the Child and Family Development agency states that having a bachelor’s or more advanced degree in early childhood education is a minimum requirement.
Preschools throughout the state want to be the best, and accomplish this goal by hiring preschool teachers with demonstrable qualifications.
Step 3. Maintain Your Preschool Teacher Qualifications
If you have a Wyoming teaching license you will need to earn five continuing education credits every five years. You can do this by attending professional development events that are approved by the Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board or by earning appropriate credits from colleges and universities.
If you are teaching at a preschool regulated by the Department of Family Services you will need to earn at least 30 hours of continuing education every two years. This must include at least one hour of training in each of the following subjects:
- Health, nutrition, and safety
- Active learning environments
- Childhood guidance and discipline
- Child development and growth
- Cultural relationships and the family community
- Leadership and professionalism
- Business and program management
The Department of Family Services must approve your continuing training. Credits from accredited colleges and universities are automatically accepted. You can earn your training hours from places like:
- Universities and colleges
- Community colleges
- Childcare organizations
- In-service training
- Correspondence courses
- Wyoming’s Statewide Training and Resource System (STARS)
According to the policy of the Department of Family Services, this agency will provide continuing education scholarships and grants to preschool teachers. These scholarships and grants are to assist preschool teachers to earn a certification or a degree in the field of early childhood development.
Because earning additional college credits will fulfill continuing professional development requirements for educators teaching at preschools that are affiliated with both the Department of Family Services and the Board of Education, preschool teachers may consider earning a master’s degree such as an M.A.T., M.Ed. or MATL with an emphasis in the field of early childhood education. Earning a master’s degree can offer several advantages:
- Provide you with a high level of competitive teaching qualifications
- Provide you with an advanced depth of knowledge in the field of early childhood education, a qualification that will positively affect your preschool students
- Provide you with greater employment flexibility and options.
Prospective preschool teachers can learn more about the field of early childhood education, employment opportunities, continuing education or development opportunities, and legislative developments through local professional organizations like:
- Wyoming Early Childhood Association (WYECA) – an affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), this association works to promote its primary goal of excellence in early childhood education for children ages zero to eight.
- Wyoming Valley Children’s Association (WVCA) – since its inception in 1924 this association has worked to nurture children to develop and grow to their full potential. Currently WVCA provides preschool education and offers a range of special assistance to children with disabilities.
Wyoming Preschool Teacher Salaries
In Wyoming, early childhood education professionals – preschool teachers, preschool special education teachers, and preschool administrators – earn salaries that typically fall within the ranges shown here (median, top 25%, and top 10%), according to 2018 data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Preschool Teachers: $26,760 – $43,520 – $55,130
- Preschool Special Education Teachers: $62,040 – $78,060 – $95,490
- Preschool Administrators: $39,820 – $58,890 – $77,230
Here you’ll find salary information specific to Wyoming’s major metropolitan areas, along with some of the places ECE professionals work:
The Casper Natrona County School district offers a federally funded preschool program that’s delivered through select elementary schools. This free program is available to all three- and four-year-olds in the district, although those who meet specific federal income guidelines are given priority. Students in Natrona County may also qualify for the federally funded Head Start program, and other early learners in the county may receive their preschool education through a host of private and faith-based preschool programs, some of which include:
- Apple Tree Early Care and Education
- Montessori School of Casper
- Giggles & Wiggles
- Tiny Tots Preschool
Preschool teachers here earn salaries that typically fall within this range:
- Median: $22,490
- 75th percentile: $24,410
- 90th percentile: $29,210
The Laramie County School District offers free pre-K programs to children who reside in a Title I school boundary. This includes the following schools:
- Afflerbach Elementary
- Alta Vista Elementary
- Arp Elementary
- Baggs Elementary
- Cole Elementary
- Goins Elementary
- Hebard Elementary
- Fairview/Lebhart Elementary
- Rossman Elementary
There is also a variety of private preschool options available to Cheyenne’s youngest learners, including:
- Diamonds in the Rough Preschool
- Montessori School of Cheyenne
- Discovery Unlimited Preschool
- Our Savior Lutheran Church
- Kiddie College
- Little Lambs Child Development Center
Whether working in the area’s federally funded preschool programs or in faith-based or private programs, Cheyenne’s preschool teachers and preschool administrators can expect to earn the following:
- Median: $21,110
- 75th percentile: $23,830
- 90th percentile: $30,060
- Median: $31,820
- 75th percentile: $38,380
- 90th percentile: $46,690
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_wy.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.
Job growth projections sourced from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services and published in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026) database – https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
All salary and job growth data accessed in September 2019.