Preschool teachers in Wyoming are instrumental in preparing the state’s next generation for success. Across the state there is currently one preschool teacher for every 48 children under the age of five, a figure that helps to explain the current and projected demand for qualified preschool teachers in Wyoming.
Wyoming’s preschool educators teach at two main types of preschools, which are affiliated with either the State Board of Education or the Department of Family Services.
To become a preschool teacher in Wyoming you will need to navigate the following steps:
|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 – you can take this at any school district administration office, and 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
- Child care 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
The 2014 average preschool teacher salary in Wyoming was $27,973 according to the state’s Department of Workforce Services. Experienced preschool teachers in the 90th percentile earned $44,481 on average while entry-level salaries averaged $17,831 a year statewide.
Wyoming preschool teacher salaries were highly variable throughout the state. Preschool teachers in Teton County had the highest average and highest entry-level salaries among Wyoming’s most populated counties.
Preschool teachers in Natrona County had the highest average salary of those in the 90th percentile:
The increase in early childhood educator jobs in Wyoming is predicted to be 14.1% over the ten-year period ending in 2022, according to the state’s Department of Workforce Services.
A total of 253 preschool teacher jobs are projected to become available during this time period. More than 61% of these jobs will come from teachers leaving the work force, while the remainder will come from the creation of new jobs.
In 2013, 770 preschool teachers were employed in Wyoming. More than 27% of these teachers were located in Laramie County, while 26% of them were in Fremont County. The Northwestern nonmetropolitan part of Wyoming had the highest concentration of preschool teacher jobs of any such area in the country according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The BLS provides a detailed breakdown of 2013 Wyoming pre-K teacher salaries for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas throughout the state: