How To Become a Preschool Teacher: Requirements and FAQs

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The Iowa Teaching and Certification Resource

Like all US states, Iowa requires teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved teacher education program at an accredited institution. Additionally, applicants are required to take the Praxis Subject Assessments to evaluate knowledge in the subject(s) to be taught. There are three types of Iowa teacher certification: Initial, Standard, and Master Educator.

The Initial certificate is valid for two years and is issued to new teachers who meet the state’s basic requirements. Once two years of successful teaching are accomplished, based upon local evaluations, teachers may apply for a Standard License which is valid for five years. Both Initial and Standard certificates may be renewed. Teachers may also earn a Master Educator License, which is valid for five years, by successfully completing five years of teaching and earning a master’s degree in the appropriate endorsement area.

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Iowa

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Candidates for teacher licensure in Iowa must complete a bachelor’s degree as well as a state-approved Iowa teacher preparation program at an accredited school. You can see approved programs on the Iowa Department of Education website. You can also compare key metrics for these state-approved teacher preparation programs by using the sortable table on our Iowa schools page.

Additionally, schools may be accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) This organization was formed by the consolidation of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC). CAEP accreditation is a highly respected marker of excellence in teacher education.

FAQs about preschool teachers

1. Do preschool teachers need to take continuing education courses?

Some states require preschool teachers to hold a license to legally work. To keep their credentials current, preschool teachers are required to complete continuing education classes. State requirements vary, so individuals should find out the continuing education rules in their state.

2. Is it necessary to earn a master’s degree?

While it’s not necessary to earn a graduate or master’s degree to work as a preschool teacher, pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree can help you advance into administrative education positions. If you want to advance your career, you need to have a graduate degree to achieve those goals.

3. What is the typical work schedule for a preschool teacher?

The work schedule of preschool teachers varies, but their day usually begins around 9 a.m. and lasts until 3 p.m. Some preschool teachers work a regular school calendar (10 months), with a two-month summer vacation. However, daycare teachers typically work all year to accommodate working parents.

4. Are preschool teachers required to complete specialized training?

Because working effectively with young children requires understanding their intellectual, emotional and physical needs, you may need to take training in child development. Child development training allows you to learn more about developing age-appropriate activities and best practices to help preschoolers build essential skills.

Some employers may require you to participate in specialized training related to the type of learning system that they use, or the curriculum being taught. For instance, if you plan to work in a Montessori preschool, you may be required to take special training to understand and implement the Montessori methods of teaching. Likewise, if you want to work with children with learning disabilities, you may need to attend training that helps you understand children’s unique needs.

5. What skills are required to become a successful preschool teacher?

Communication skills

Preschool teachers must have exceptional communication skills to tell colleagues and parents about students’ progress. They also need excellent speaking and writing skills to convey this information effectively. They should be able to communicate effectively with young children.


Interpersonal skills

Organizational skills

Physical stamina

6. What are the working conditions for a preschool teacher?

Preschool teachers usually spend much of their workday on a playground or in a classroom. Learning facilities vary from a single room to large buildings. The class size that preschool teachers handle also varies. Some preschools handle only a handful of children, while others handle several hundred.

Alternative Teaching Opportunities

Alternative Teaching Opportunities

If you already have a college degree, spending a few more years in school before becoming a teacher might not appeal to you. You might qualify for an alternative approach instead.

In some states, there are programs that allow you to hold a paid teaching position and go through a training program at the same time. For example, Teach for America recruits people to work in underserved communities.

Some states offer alternative certification programs for professionals with backgrounds in high-demand subject areas. For example, if you have a degree in a science field, a school that is having trouble recruiting a certified science teacher may hire you for the job. You could start teaching while working toward certification.

Also, not every teaching position requires teacher training classes and state licensure. For example, many preschools don’t require their teachers to be licensed. Some private school positions don’t need licensure either. Teaching overseas might be another option.


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