Low pay is a significant reason behind the current shortage of child care workers in the United States. The average hourly wage nationally is around $14 an hour.
A degree isn't required for most jobs in early childhood education but it can increase your pay.
A first-of-its-kind program could be one solution to getting more people into higher paying child care positions.
Classes just started at Northern Essex Community College for the new competency-based early childhood education associates degree. Competency-based education lets you demonstrate what you already know.
“The quicker that they can show us that they master the content and we do that through authentic assessment project-based learning things that they actually will be doing in an early childhood classroom, the quicker they can accelerate through the courses,” said Jody Carson who leads the program.
She said this could appeal to adults looking to change careers or to people working in early childhood education who want to advance from a teacher to a director position.
“It makes growth in the field much more accessible to people, and it really credits them for what they already know,” said Carson.
Competency-based education is also offered for other types of degrees at other schools. This is believed to be a first for early childhood education at a public college.
All of the courses are available online so you can earn this degree anywhere.
School leaders say others have reached out to them about their early childhood education model.