You love working with babies, toddlers, and young kids, but you don’t want to be a daycare provider for the rest of your life. You are ambitious, and you want to work toward building a better career with greater job security, higher earning potential, and other enviable perks.
Fortunately, it is possible to remain in the early childhood education career field while moving up the career ladder. Here are a few ideas for advancing your career while continuing to help the little ones you love.
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The first step for any ambitious worker in any professional field is to obtain key education credentials. If you haven’t already, you should look into achieving an early childhood development degreef with an accredited university. Not only will you learn more theory and techniques for managing children through early childhood, but this degree will qualify you for more prestigious positions that can lead up the career ladder in this field.
Conferences are opportunities for professionals in certain fields to meet one another, learn about the latest trends and research and find new career opportunities. You should find ways to visit the conferences in your region to build your expertise and your professional network. Some prominent national conferences you might also visit include the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Conference and the Early Educators Leadership Conference (EELC).
Join a Professional Network
Professional networks help connect professionals in specific fields, and an increase in network connections almost always leads to career advancement and success. You should look for professional networks in your local area related to early childhood education, or perhaps simply education. You might also apply for membership with regional, national, or international groups, though these might take more time and effort to join.
Find a Mentor
The benefits of mentorship are manifold, from increasing your basic knowledge and skill to improving your network connections to ensuring a basic level of support and guidance through your early career. You might search your personal and professional network for mentors, asking professionals you know and respect to help you advance your career. Many professionals will be more than willing to create a mentorship relationship with you, as there are benefits for mentors, as well.
Define Your Teaching Philosophy
Choosing a direction in an education career can be difficult, so to enhance the satisfaction you gain from your career, you might want to spend some time defining your teaching philosophy. Your philosophy should clarify your values and practices, which might point you toward certain institutions or education fields over others.
Become an Advocate
Education as a whole and early childhood education specifically receive not nearly as much respect and attention as they deserve considering their impact on culture and society. You might consider positioning yourself as an advocate for early childhood education in your area, lobbying lawmakers to dedicate more funding to improving access to daycare and preschool and quality of institutions for local families in need. If you find this work fulfilling, you might consider making a career out of early childhood education advocacy, creating or working for a non-profit in this field.
Apply for Grant Programs
Many organizations offer grant money to educational institutions lacking vital resources. You might work with your employer’s leadership to submit grant applications to fund important projects. The process of writing grants and communicating with grant providers will hone your professional skills and result in connections to powerful professionals, who may continue to support your career with funding opportunities into the future.
Educate Families and Other Caregivers
Early childhood education can be an emotionally fraught field, as parents and other caregivers often fail to understand what they need to do to facilitate healthy and positive development. You can strengthen your communication skills and build stronger community connections by reaching out to families to explain important components of early childhood development and education.
Maintain a Professional Portfolio
A professional portfolio is a space for you to collect evidence of your impact in your career. This can be useful for demonstrating your value to prospective employers, but it is also a convenient tool for proving to yourself your own capability and worth. Even as you reach the highest levels of the early childhood education career ladder, you can and should reflect on your successes by reviewing your professional portfolio.
You can commit to a high-powered career in a field you love. Early childhood education needs more passionate professionals like you, and with some important career-building steps, you should find satisfaction and success in your work.