If you are trying to decide between an elementary education degree and a early childhood education degree (ECE), you need to assess each option and determine which will offer you the better value. While both degrees will qualify you to work with children as a qualified educator, one pathway may be better than the other. You have to really take a step back and decide what you want from a career in education and what type of students you would prefer working with.
You may have the option to group both degree programs together in one all-encompassing option, but focusing on one program will help you specialize in teaching students at a specific developmental stage. Read on to learn the differences between elementary education programs and ECE programs so that you are equipped to make an informed decision.
What is the Focus of Early Childhood Education vs. Elementary Education Programs?
If you study for your Early Childhood Education degree, the program’s objective will be to teach students the methods to develop young children academically, socially and cognitively. The age range that the ECE program focuses on is between birth and through preschool age. You can either take a short two-year degree program to become a teaching assistant for day cares, kindergartens and preschools, or you can enroll in a bachelor’s degree program to meet the credential requirements to be a preschool teacher.
If you study for a degree in elementary education, the program will prepare future teachers to educate students after they pass preschool but before they enter middle school. This primary education program is one of the most common programs taught today as the demand for elementary teachers has skyrocketed. By earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, you will be prepared to sit for a state licensure exam so that you can land a permanent teaching role.
Where is There a Higher Demand?
The demand for teachers is huge all throughout the country. While there is a high demand for teachers in all grades and at all levels, the demand is dramatically higher for teachers who instruct students in primary grades. If job availability is what holds the greatest value to you, the elementary education program would be the better investment with today’s current need. This can change based on the geographical region and temporary economic conditions.
Comparison of Salaries Between ECE and Elementary Education Graduates
Another way to weigh value is to research how much you can earn once you graduate. After all, the purpose of earning your degree is so that you can start your career and payback the loans you have taken out while you are earning a living.
Based on what nationwide surveys say, the average preschool teacher earns $27,570 per year. This figure has steadily declined since 2010. The average salary for an elementary school teacher is reported to be $53,590 per year. Since the figures are vastly different and you are still required to spend the same amount of time in school, the elementary education degree is the better investment in terms of future income.
No matter what setting you choose to work in, you will be given an opportunity to work a fulfilling career where you can build strong bonds that can actually lead children down the right path. If you want to work in education and you are trying to find the best investment, the elementary education degree is likely the best option if you are studying for a bachelor’s degree.