Early Childhood Education vs. Teaching Degree

Amanda dropped out of high school, realized the error of her ways and clawed herself back into the college game.

But when she missed that senior year of high school, she missed some key college advice that I’m trying to fill in today. Feel free to read along and help!

Dear Judge Josh,

I have a few questions I was hoping to get answers too. Ive been reading your blog and havent exactly found the answers Im looking for yet.

early childhood education
"The rear flank, children, is the most delicious cut of the turtle."

Well, please keep reading…you should see the backlog of questions I have to answer! 🙂

First of all Im in my early twenties and a few years back I became uninterested in High School. Eventually quiting in grade eleven with no reason other then hating school.

Happens to a lot of people.

I know I know that was lazy on my part everyone hates school but I attempted to go back various times and just couldnt bring myself to attend. I have however returned as a mature student at the college level.

Outstanding! Congrats, because I’m sure there were times like you felt you’d ruined everything by dropping out. Must’ve been hard to get over the hump and get back in the game.

I have been taking Early Childhood Education through Distance education. This is due mainly to the fact that I have an 18 month old son who is of course the light of my life but also puts a huge financial burden that perhaps many but not most other students my age would not have.

True. But like you said, a gazillion other moms have done it and are doing it right now, so you can, too, if you want.

I would like to go on to university but not sure which path to choose. Early childhood education is a very competitive field. My dream career would be teaching kindergarten. However Im not sure which path to choose.

I have enjoyed all my classes at the college level, have been getting pretty good marks averaging on a 89% and c ould go on to complete a two year bachelor of arts in early childhood education but Im not sure that this would be much of a step up then my college diploma in terms of how future employers look at my resume.

Hold on — I think what you mean is a two-year associate’s degree. There are no two-year bachelor’s degrees that I’m aware of. I know you’re in Canada and things could be different (sing out, Canadians, if I’m wrong!), but I’m going to assume you mean a two-year degree, the equivalent of an associate’s degree here in the States.

I could also go on to take a teaching degree but it would mean many more years in school as well as only general knowledge not specific to the age group Id most enjoy teaching.

Well, that depends. You could do elementary education, which isn’t quite as narrow as early-childhood education, but still specific to younger kids. Older than the early-childhood kids, for sure, but still young.

There are going to be many job oppurtunities in the next few years for both teachers and early childhood educators as my province has began to phase in full day kindergarten.


Im not sure that my diploma or a degree in early childhood education would be looked at as equal to someone who has obtained a teaching degree.

Probably not, no, if it’s a two-year degree vs. a four-year degree.

I should also add that I have recently gained employment in the ece field through a local daycare would work experience and a future degree give me a step up or should I look at a teaching degree? I hope you can answer my questions.

Sure thing.

Well, let me just race to the point: why don’t you do both? Get the two-year degree first, then continue with the teaching degree.

Yes, it’ll take a few extra years to complete the bachelor’s degree. But, you know, what else have you got planned for the next 70 years of your life? 🙂 Life is not short, it’s LONG. You’ve got plenty of time, especially now, when you’re still young. And while your kid is still young — believe me, you’ll be glad you’re making the extra cash when your son wants a computer and a cell phone and a car. All before he hits puberty. 🙂

If you get the ECE degree, you can have a leg up on other applicants for jobs in preschools and daycares. And some of those employers might actually pay for part of your additional education and training toward the four-year degree. Most won’t, but some will, so it’s worth checking out.

Of course, once you get the four-year degree, your working options and earning power expand quite a bit. And if you get an elementary-ed degree and find out that you hate teaching kids older than 6, then you can always continue teaching ECE kids somewhere, and for a salary commensurate with your education (one hopes).

— Hope that helps. But what about you guys? Any suggestions for our friend Amanda in the Great White North? Current teachers, future teachers? Current Canadians? 🙂 Let us know in the comments below.

17 thoughts on “Early Childhood Education vs. Teaching Degree”

  1. Teaching jobs are really difficult to find in Ontario, (I`m guessing, because I know Ontario is phasing in full-day kindergarten.) As far as I know, it`s 1/2 day with a teacher and 1/2 day with an ECE worker. I agree with Judge Josh, doing both would net you experience and education at the same time. If need be, you can always get your degrees part-time while still working if your OSAP isn’t enough. It may take longer, but you’ll have a good job in the long run to take care of your child.

  2. Re: the two-year Bachelor’s degree:

    Yes, Josh, such things do exist up here in Canada. I don’t know what province Amanda is in. (Rules as to what kinds of degrees you need in order to be a teacher vary from province to province.) I’m in Manitoba. ‘Round here, to be a certified teacher, you need to start with a three (or four, if you wish, but three is good enough)-year Bachelor’s degree. Then you apply to do what’s called an “after degree” in education. The after degree is two years. When all’s said and done, you have either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science (whichever one you got before going into education) and then a Bachelor of Education.

    And, you know, I could be wrong about this, but I don’t think Associate’s degrees even exist in Canada. If they do, they must be extremely rare because I’ve never heard of anyone getting one.

  3. Amanda, I dropped out of high school, had a baby and then started college. In my 2nd year I had baby #2. In years 3 and 4 both boys were diagnosed with autism.I got my bachelors in English and was awarded a full tuition waiver and stipend to a doctoral program and I just started year five! I get how hard having kids and going to school is but you should go for the gold, go for the four-year degree. In the long term it will open more doors and give you a more solid foundation to build your future. Just remember to ask for help when you need it!

  4. Go for it!! An associate’s degree, at least in the U.S., won’t get you very far especially for Early Childhood Education. Looking around here with that degree you would not be able to make much more than minimum wage. Plus, more education would give you more practice once you enter the “real-world”. I say go for the Bachelor’s it would be worth it!!

  5. Good job getting back on track! Pursuing your teaching certification will allow you to work the same schedule as your son as he grows older. You may find this more pleasurable in the long run:)

  6. Just a little note from a fellow Canadian:

    After a two year program, you receive a diploma: a four year program goes to a bachelor’s degree.

    I’m in British Columbia, and to teach here, you have to get a bachelor’s degree (for elementary school, you must also do a basis of general courses: English, Canadian geography, Canadian history, a math, and a lab science – these are to make you more “rounded”, although it’s only one course required in each of these). Here, you receive your bachelor’s degree, and afterwards, go into a 1 year PDP (professional development program) and then, afterwards; you receive a teaching certificate and can teach. For requirements in your province, try googling. It can work wonders.

    There might be an option of getting a diploma, and being a teacher’s aide, and then gradually working on your full degree part time.

    Great on you for going back to school! I hope this information helps you, and best of luck!

  7. I have to agree with the judge and say do both. Finish the ECE and then follow up with the teaching degree. By doing this you’ll open a ton of doors, ones you didn’t even know existed! And great, wonderful awesome job on going back to school! So many people drop out and regret it, but do nothing about it. It’s great that you had the guts to go back and even keep on going!

  8. My assumption is that she has been in college, and there is a program she can transfer to which would require 2 more years to get a bachelor. These are common.
    It seems similar to the community college to 4 year college transition of the States, we in Canada just call it college to university. So it would still be equivalent to 4 years. Then the possible addition of teacher’s college afterwards.

  9. If Amanda could clarify which province is in, we could give more specific advice 🙂 I live in Alberta, and here here are generally a few options if you want to be a teacher

    -a four year Bachelor of Education
    -a 5 year combo degree (3 years bachelor of science or arts then a two year Bachelor of Education Degree)
    -a 4 year Bachelor of Arts or Science (from pretty much anywhere) then a 2 year Bachelor or Education

    It is pretty rare to get hired as a teacher without the Bachelor of Education Degree. In Alberta, elementary education teachers are required to have a wider background (English, social sciences, sciences, math, etc) and high school teachers need to have gotten a major or a minor in their first (arts or science) degree in the area they plan on teaching. The 1 or 2 year early childhood education certificate or diploma is generally for elementary teaching assistants, daycare workers, dayhome providers, etc. (my son’s daycare teachers all hold the 2 year diploma).

    I am currently working towards becoming a teacher as well – Calgary doesn’t have the 4 year Bachelor of Education so I’m getting my 4 year BA at a smaller university (I like the location and smaller class sizes) and transferring to a larger University here for my 2 Year Bachelor of Education (also call the “Master of Teaching at U of C)

  10. I also wanted to add that there is often huge pay difference between a teacher and an ECE – teacher’s in Alberta currently make up to about $85,000/year (after working for 10 years with a starting pay of up to $55,000). I would be surprised if even a very well paid ECE makes more than $40,000 (with years of experience).

  11. Yes, Judge Josh there are 2-year bachelor degrees. Usually the college has a matriculation agreement with several universities that you can choose from (only a few programs at each though). For example, my Niagara College program allows my to obtain a two-year degree (through transfer credit) at Brock University (a B.A.), Niagara University (a B.A.), D’Youville (a B.A.) or several (like 4) Australian universities (also a B.A.). I’m only in a General Arts & Science Program though so options, as far as degrees go, vary. There is no difference between a student doing a 4-year B.A. at Brock, per se, than a college student transfer to Brock post-diploma and obtaining a B.A. in 2 years. A lot of students do this to minimize their education costs (2 years of College tuition and books plus 2 years of University tuition and books or 4 years of University tuition and books? No brainer). For me, I chose to go because I have absolutely no idea what I want to do.

    As far as the advice goes, I totally agree with Judge Josh. Education is priceless (for the most part) and both degrees would help you out immensely; especially down the line when your little boy is going to post-secondary. My Mum has a college diploma and two university degrees (a BScN and BA) and is currently going for her masters degree. The only reason she is able to help me and my brother out with our college tuition is because of the money she earns at the job she got with her education. Plus, it seems like you enjoy school, so what’s the down side? I live in Ontario and we have several programs for mothers and First Generation students (I don’t know if this applies to you or not though) and if you live here, I would pretty much guarantee you would get at least 2 grants/bursaries and would be elligible for several scholarships (you have a pretty good average!). I wish you all the best in whichever path you choose!


  12. If amanda could clarify which province she lives in it would be helpful. As for the 2-year degree thing, it does exist, but it’s usually called a diploma( if it’s a 1 year program it’s called a certificate).

  13. hi, can anyone tell me if I am hiring teacher with B.Ed and O.C.T, do i still require them have ECE if they are teaching the program for 3 hours a day? please help

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