Average Wages & Benefits for a Preschool Teacher (2023)

The job of a preschool teacher is of utmost importance to young children, families and society. Early childhood education levels the playing field by giving students from all socioeconomic backgrounds a solid foundation and better odds of success in school. Quality preschool programs help children prepare for kindergarten, excel in school and one day succeed in the workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

While the perks of being a preschool teacher are many, earning income potential is limited. Despite the importance of preschool instruction during a critical time in brain development, preschool teachers have not yet achieved wage parity with primary school teachers. Despite having similar educational backgrounds, preschool teachers typically earn a much lower salary. Benefits vary widely by employment setting. Jobs offering the best wages and benefits are found in state-funded public preschool programs.

Preschool Teacher Description

Preschool teachers play a pivotal role in the growth and development of young children below the age of kindergarten. Although the classroom may appear to be all fun and games, the preschool teacher is engaged in teaching language acquisition, socialization, structured routine and motor skills. They use storytelling, rhyming games, building blocks and music to teach basic skills such as recognition of colors, shapes, numbers and letters. Craft activities are introduced to teach fine motor skills, and outdoor play encourages the use of gross motor skills. Even the classroom is arranged and decorated to promote learning and creative expression.

Preschool teachers spend their days keeping a close eye on the children and the surrounding environment to ensure safety whether they’re inside or outside. Children are encouraged to mingle and make friends. Along with teaching and lesson planning, preschool teachers interact with parents by providing daily updates and regular progress reports. Achievements are celebrated and goals are set for improvement if the child seems to be falling behind peers.

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Preschool and kindergarten teachers have similar jobs and training. They help children get off to a great start in school. However, salaries are not comparable in many states. Nationally, preschool teachers earned a median annual salary of ​$31,930​, while kindergarten teachers earned ​$57,860​ per year, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2020. The salary gap is partially explained by the percentage of preschool teachers not required to have a bachelor's degree.

Preschool Teacher Education

Education, credentialing and licensing requirements for preschool teachers vary by state and instructional setting. An associate degree is typically the minimum education needed for center-based programs like Head Start, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, a bachelor’s degree is often preferred or required for preschool teaching jobs.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), 78 percent of preschool teaching jobs in public school settings minimally require a license, teacher certification and a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. An estimated 56 percent of preschool teacher jobs in state-supported private preschool programs require a bachelor’s degree. Some states require the child development associate (ADA) credential and prior experience as a childcare worker to qualify for preschool teaching jobs.

Preschool Teacher Average Salary

The disadvantages of being an early childhood educator include competition for jobs with good pay and benefits. Recent college graduates with a degree in early childhood education may need to start out on the low end of the salary continuum to gain experience, especially if they are location-bound in their job search. The lowest-paid 10 percent of preschool teachers earned no more than ​$21,900​ per year, or ​$10.53​ per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2020.

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The average preschool teacher salary in May 2020 was ​$36,550​ per year. Fifty percent of preschool teachers annually earned a median salary between ​$26,220​ and ​$42,350​, with a reported median salary of ​$31,930​ per year. In a best-case scenario, preschool teachers at the 90th percentile made around ​$58,230​ or more per year.

Salary schedules vary by employer and funding source of the school or organization. Preschool teachers working in public school settings earned the highest annual salaries.


  • Public schools: ​$50,520
  • Child daycare centers: ​$32,190
  • Church-affiliated preschools: ​$39,770
  • Social advocacy groups (such as Head Start): ​$37,160
  • Nonprofit organizations (such as YMCA): ​$35,450
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Preschool Teacher Salary by Location

Average preschool teacher salaries were highest in the state of New Jersey, where preschool teachers earn an average yearly salary of ​$47,190​, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May 2020. The District of Columbia was next, paying ​$45,890​ per year, followed by New York and Massachusetts at ​$44,760​ and ​$43,120​, respectively.

On the other end of the salary continuum, southern states like Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida paid preschool teachers no more than ​$30,860​ per year. However, cost-of-living and state tax rates must be considered when comparing preschool teacher salaries. For example, a preschool teacher living in Tupelo, Mississippi, earning ​$35,000​ per year would need to make an annual salary of ​$53,958​ to enjoy a similar lifestyle in Bergen, New Jersey, according to the Pocketsense cost-of-living calculator.

Preschool Teacher Job Benefits

Most states offer public employees, including preschool teachers working in the public school system, a comprehensive benefits package that includes health insurance, vision care, prescriptions and sick leave. The employee share of costs for coverage varies by school district. Public school teacher salaries and benefits by state can be compared using the TeachingCertification.com website. States with low per-pupil funding tend to have lower teacher wages and lower quality schools.

Because of low salaries, many teachers leave the field before retirement age. But those who stay may enjoy a comfortable pension in some states. USA Today reports that teacher retirement pensions are highest in the state of Ohio, averaging ​$66,000​ per year as of 2019. In addition, teachers receive monthly Social Security checks.

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Preschool teachers working in privately funded childcare settings have fewer benefits if any. Employers typically offer basic healthcare plans for full-time employees, but that cannot be assumed, according to Noodle.com. In fact, some preschool teachers are not allowed to take a paid sick day and they may have huge deductibles for out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Preschool Teacher Intrinsic Benefits

Preschool teachers don’t go into the profession expecting big salaries. They are motivated by a desire to help young children gain valuable skills and increase self-confidence as they discover their interests and talents. The job offers deep personal reward and an opportunity to make a lasting difference in a child’s life. Preschool teachers enjoy using their creativity to come up with engaging lesson plans that introduce children to art, music, science and technology.

Pros and Cons of Being a Preschool Teacher

The perks of being a preschool teacher can include being able to send your own children to an outstanding preschool program that you couldn’t otherwise afford. At some centers, child care benefits for teachers include free or reduced tuition for children of preschool teachers. Although preschool teachers could choose homeschooling, children benefit from daily interaction with peers in a stimulating classroom environment conducive to learning.

Further, PreSchoolTeacher.org points out that salary is only one factor in job satisfaction. For example, some preschool teachers in private and religiously funded preschools are happier there than they might be in a large public school setting. Reasons cited include smaller class sizes with fewer disciplinary challenges and greater flexibility in curriculum design.

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Preschool Teacher Growth Trend

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job demand for preschool teachers will grow 2 percent between 2019 and 2029, a little slower than the projected growth rate of 4 percent for all occupations. An estimated 13,500 new jobs will open up in addition to vacancies from retirements and teachers leaving the field. Teachers with prior experience in the childcare field will have an advantage in the job market.


Average Wages & Benefits for a Preschool Teacher? ›

The average preschool teacher salary in May 2020 was ​$36,550​ per year. Fifty percent of preschool teachers annually earned a median salary between ​$26,220​ and ​$42,350​, with a reported median salary of ​$31,930​ per year.

What are the benefits of being a Preschool Teacher? ›

8 reasons to be a preschool teacher
  • Active and hands-on career. ...
  • Allows creative expression. ...
  • Fulfilling and rewarding work. ...
  • Flexible scheduling and good work-life balance. ...
  • Minimal entry-level requirements. ...
  • Encourages personal growth. ...
  • Positive job outlook and advancement opportunities. ...
  • Opportunity to become a lifelong role model.
May 15, 2023

What is the lowest salary for a Preschool Teacher? ›

Preschool Teacher Salary in California
PercentileSalaryLast Updated
10th Percentile Preschool Teacher Salary$34,054May 01, 2023
25th Percentile Preschool Teacher Salary$37,760May 01, 2023
50th Percentile Preschool Teacher Salary$41,830May 01, 2023
75th Percentile Preschool Teacher Salary$47,810May 01, 2023
1 more row

What is the average pay for a Preschool Teacher in California? ›

Salaries by years of experience in California
Years of experiencePer hour
1 to 2 years$18.70
3 to 5 years-
6 to 9 years$20.01
More than 10 years$22.27
1 more row

How much are preschool teachers paid in Florida? ›

Salaries by years of experience in Florida
Years of experiencePer hour
1 to 2 years$13.92
3 to 5 years-
6 to 9 years$14.89
More than 10 years$16.57
1 more row

What are two benefits of preschool? ›

Preschool is a great option for many families. Preschool advantages include a consistent structure and routine, and a focus on early education (which can inspire a love of learning). Most programs also teach children a variety of cognitive, social, emotional, and language skills.

What state pays preschool teachers the most? ›

Preschool Teacher Salary By State: Highest-Paid Preschool Teachers by State [2023] Research Summary. After extensive research by the Zippia data science team, we identified these details of preschool teacher salary by state for the United States: Hawaii has the highest preschool teacher salary of $43,575.

What is the top end salary for a preschool teacher? ›

Preschool Teacher Salary in Los Angeles, CA
PercentileSalaryLast Updated
25th Percentile Preschool Teacher Salary$38,440May 01, 2023
50th Percentile Preschool Teacher Salary$42,580May 01, 2023
75th Percentile Preschool Teacher Salary$48,660May 01, 2023
90th Percentile Preschool Teacher Salary$54,196May 01, 2023
1 more row

What is the highest daycare teacher salary? ›

Daycare worker salary ranges between $18,000 - $37,000, with the average total compensation falling around $27,490 per year in 2021.

What is the best state to be a preschool teacher? ›

Best States For a Preschool Teacher

Our research found that New Mexico is the best state for preschool teachers, while Hawaii and California are ranked highest in terms of median salary. New Mexico has a median salary of $38,878 and Hawaii has the highest median salary among all 50 states for preschool teachers.

Do you need a degree to teach preschool in California? ›

California preschool teachers need to obtain specific certification credentials as educators. You don't have to earn a bachelor's degree, but you'll need to complete either educational or experience minimum hours before you can begin teaching preschool students in a classroom.

How many hours a day is preschool in California? ›

The California State Preschool Program defines a full-day program as one that lasts at least 6.5 hours. Program lengths vary, but are often not long enough to cover the hours that working parents need care for their children. That is especially the case if a parent works a regular eight-hour day.

Do you need a degree to be a Preschool Teacher in Florida? ›

To become a preschool teacher in Florida, you must complete an approved teacher education program, which consists of a bachelor's degree or higher and all necessary requirements to become a licensed teacher in Florida, including a 10-week field experience in a preschool setting.

How many hours a day is preschool in Florida? ›

Florida VPK Programs are typically 3 hours each day. Many providers offer “wrap-around care” which covers the remainder of the day for a fee. The VPK School Year Program includes a total of 540 instructional hours. The VPK Summer Program includes 300 instructional hours.

How much do daycare teachers get paid in Florida? ›

The average salary for a daycare teacher in Florida is $21,500 per year.

What are the pros and cons of being a preschool teacher? ›

The pros of being a preschool teacher include working with children and helping to shape the future leaders of the world, while the cons include not making very much money and dealing with a lot of day-to-day stress. Becoming a preschool teacher can be extremely rewarding.

What is the best age to start preschool? ›

Most preschool programs are designed for children between ages of two and five years old. Preschools tend to fill up quickly, so it's best to start looking for options when your child is around one year old or even sooner.

What is the most important part of preschool? ›

According to Bouffard, self-regulation -- the ability to manage one's behavior and emotions in a given situation -- is the the most important skill to foster at this age. “Good pre-K programs effectively build students' self-regulation skills that will help them experience success in pre-K and beyond,” said Bouffard.

What is the most important issue in early childhood education? ›

Lack of parent engagement and communication.

As any teacher can attest to, trying to build an engaged and communicative parent base is another one of the prominent issues in early childhood education.

What is the importance of early childhood teachers? ›

Early childhood educators are, in a way, the building blocks of learning. They help lay the foundation for education and discovery, for the rest of a child's life. Research shows that without early education, children are likely to fall behind throughout their academic careers.

What is the role of the teacher in early childhood education? ›

Duties and Responsibilities

Plans and prepares classroom setting; oversees safety and educational programs; supervises children in the classroom; provides a supportive environment in which children can learn and practice appropriate and acceptable individual and group behaviors.

How much does a preschool teacher earn in us? ›

Salaries by years of experience in the United States
Years of experiencePer hour
1 to 2 years$15.29
3 to 5 years-
6 to 9 years$16.35
More than 10 years$18.20
1 more row

Where do starting teachers get paid the most? ›

Where teachers are paid the most
  1. New York. Average salary: $80,286.
  2. Illinois. Average salary: $70,696.
  3. Michigan. Average salary: $70,137.
  4. Pennsylvania. Average salary: $69,949.
  5. Washington. Average salary: $69,005.
Mar 16, 2023

What country pays early childhood teachers the most? ›

According to an OECD report, Luxembourg (a European country) has the highest-paid teachers in the world.

How much do most teachers make a month? ›

As of May 17, 2023, the average monthly pay for a Teacher in the United States is $2,743 a month. While ZipRecruiter is seeing monthly salaries as high as $4,500 and as low as $1,292, the majority of Teacher salaries currently range between $2,000 (25th percentile) to $3,083 (75th percentile) across the United States.

What is the long term outlook for a preschool teacher? ›

Job Outlook

Employment of preschool teachers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. About 63,100 openings for preschool teachers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

What is the highest Teacher salary per month? ›

Highest salary that a Teacher can earn is ₹5.1 Lakhs per year (₹42.5k per month). How does Teacher Salary in India change with experience? An Entry Level Teacher with less than three years of experience earns an average salary of ₹2.2 Lakhs per year.

What is the highest paid teaching role? ›

Top 100 Highest Paying Jobs In Education
  • Assistant Head Teacher - Search Assistant Head Teacher Jobs.
  • Deputy Head Teacher - Search Deputy Head Teacher Jobs.
  • Preschool Head Teacher - Search Preschool Head Teacher Jobs.
  • Governess - Search Governess Jobs.
  • Principal - Search Principal Jobs.
  • Tutor - Search Tutor Jobs.
Oct 14, 2022

What is the highest paying teacher role? ›

8 of the Highest Paying Jobs in Education
  • School Principal.
  • University or College Administrator.
  • Professor.
  • Speech Pathologist.
  • Instructional Coordinator.
  • Special Education Teacher.
  • Librarian.
  • High School Teacher.

How much do childcare teachers make in the US? ›

Childcare Teacher Salary
Annual SalaryMonthly Pay
Top Earners$33,000$2,750
75th Percentile$29,000$2,416
25th Percentile$21,000$1,750

How old are most preschool teachers? ›

Preschool Teacher Age
Preschool Teacher YearsPercentages
40+ years48%
30-40 years27%
20-30 years23%
Sep 9, 2022

What are the best majors to be a preschool teacher? ›

What Should I Major in to Become a Preschool Teacher?
  • Early Childhood Education, 21%
  • Elementary Education, 13%
  • Human Development, 11%
  • Psychology, 10%
  • Other Majors, 45%

Can you teach in California without a teaching certificate? ›

Individuals who want to teach in high school in California must earn a Single Subject Teaching Credential.

What is the minimum age for preschool in California? ›

Parents of 4-year-old children may choose to enroll their child in any available TK program, CSPP, Head Start, private preschool or any other prekindergarten program for which the family is eligible.

Are preschool teachers exempt or nonexempt in California? ›

Teachers are exempt if their primary duty is teaching, tutoring, instructing or lecturing in this activity as a teacher in educational establishment.

What is the income limit for preschool in California? ›

State Fiscal Year 2022–23 Schedule of Income Ceilings
Family SizeFamily Yearly Income Ceiling (100% of SMI)Maximum Monthly Income for 15% above Income Eligibility Threshold
7 more rows

How many days a week is best for preschool? ›

A two-day attendance routine is ideal for children starting in preschool to get into the rhythm and become settled. If your child has not attended childcare before preschool, it does not matter; our Transition to School program provides and equips children appropriately for this milestone.

How many days a week is good for preschool? ›

When a child attends preschool on a consistent basis, typically four consecutive days and often full-time five days per week enrollment, experience has shown that regularity of attendance with the same group of students and teachers encourages the child's sense of security and self-confidence.

Can a 4 year old start preschool in Florida? ›

Florida was one of the first states in the country to offer free prekindergarten to all 4-year-olds. Children must live in Florida and be 4 years old on or before Sept. 1 of the current school year to be eligible.

How much do VPK teachers make in Florida? ›

As of May 16, 2023, the average annual pay for a Vpk Teacher in Florida is $20,506 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $9.86 an hour. This is the equivalent of $394/week or $1,708/month.

What degree do I need to be a preschool teacher in Texas? ›

a) A graduate or undergraduate degree in early childhood education or early childhood special education or a non- early childhood education undergraduate degree with a documented minimum of 15 hours of coursework in early childhood education; or b) Documented completion of the Texas School Ready Training Program (TSR ...

How many days can a child miss VPK in Florida? ›

Providers are paid for a full VPK day when a child attends any VPK portion of the day. The state also pays for up to one day's worth of absences for every four days a child attends. VPK providers cannot charge parents for their children's absences from the VPK Program.

How much does VPK pay per child Florida? ›

The base student allocation appropriated for 2021-2022 remains unchanged for both the VPK Summer Program and VPK School Year Program. The base student allocation for 2021-2022 is $2,122 for the VPK Summer program and $2,486 for the VPK School-Year program.

How many hours should a preschooler get? ›

Preschool-aged children who are 3 to 5 years old should get around 10 to 13 total hours of sleep per day .

What is the hourly rate for a preschool teacher in Florida? ›

Salaries by years of experience in Florida
Years of experiencePer hour
1 to 2 years$13.91
3 to 5 years-
6 to 9 years$14.88
More than 10 years$16.56
1 more row

What school district pays teachers the most in Florida? ›

Highest paying cities for High School Teachers near Florida
  • Boca Raton, FL. $60,960 per year. 68 salaries reported.
  • West Palm Beach, FL. $57,479 per year. 95 salaries reported.
  • Miami, FL. $56,077 per year. 161 salaries reported.
  • Tampa, FL. $54,451 per year. 131 salaries reported.
  • Orlando, FL. $52,781 per year. ...
  • Show more nearby cities.

How much does a pre K teacher make an hour in Florida? ›

How much does a Pre K Teacher make in Florida? As of May 17, 2023, the average annual pay for a Pre K Teacher in Florida is $23,983 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $11.53 an hour. This is the equivalent of $461/week or $1,998/month.

What are benefits of teaching? ›

Benefits of Being a Teacher
  • 1) No Two Days are the Same. ...
  • 2) Chance to Make an Impact on a Community. ...
  • 3) Job Security. ...
  • 4) A Chance to be Creative. ...
  • 5) Unlimited Impact. ...
  • 6) Flexible Work Schedules. ...
  • 7) Lifelong Learning. ...
  • 8) Opportunity to Travel.

What are benefits of being a kindergarten teacher? ›

Most common benefits for Kindergarten Teachers
  • 401(k)
  • 401(k) matching.
  • Dental insurance.
  • Disability insurance.
  • Employee discount.
  • Flexible schedule.
  • Flexible spending account.
  • Health insurance.

What qualities do you think a preschool teacher needs to have? ›

10 Qualities of Great Early Childhood Educators
  • Patience. Full of curiosity and excitement, and eager to learn, touch, and do, little kids can be impulsive and reactive. ...
  • Passion for Teaching. ...
  • Love for Young Children. ...
  • Caring and Compassion. ...
  • Flexibility. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Creativity. ...
  • Organization.
Aug 13, 2021

What do preschool teachers struggle with? ›

One often overlooked challenge of teaching is the physical demands associated with the job. Preschool teachers rarely have time to sit and rest during the school day. They spend most of the day on their feet, bending, lifting, dancing, and playing with children.

What is challenging about being a preschool teacher? ›

As a preschool teacher, you face several new and unique challenges on an everyday basis. You often find yourself struggling with establishing the right curriculum, dealing with the different needs of toddlers at the same time, and communicating minor details about the kids with the parents.

Do teachers have a lot of benefits? ›

School districts often offer substantial health care benefits packages, another reason many teachers choose the profession as self-pay has become expensive. Benefits usually include dental, health, and vision.

Is teaching a good career financially? ›

While teachers receive low pay, they receive several financial benefits that can help balance the scales. Although teachers earn less than other college graduates, they often qualify for special financial programs. One of the best programs is loan forgiveness.

What are the pros and cons of being a teacher? ›

The Pros and Cons of Teaching
Pros of TeachingCons of Teaching
Summer vacations and holidaysSalary
Connecting with other teachers and staffLack of support from administration
Always learning and continuing to growContinuous professional development requirements
1 more row
Jun 12, 2022

Why do I love teaching preschool? ›

There is a somewhat noble feeling that goes along with teaching preschool education. Knowing that you are taking care of the most vulnerable people among us, helping them learn and grow into responsible people – and keeping them safe – is a big responsibility. One that you will definitely feel good about.

What are benefits of being an elementary school teacher? ›

There are several advantages to becoming an elementary school teacher, including:
  • Impact on children. ...
  • Motivated students. ...
  • Generous vacation days. ...
  • Job security. ...
  • Learning opportunities. ...
  • Behavioral challenges. ...
  • Long hours. ...
  • Difficult parents.
Mar 30, 2023

Did you know facts about teachers? ›

Here are 10 facts about teachers that make us appreciate their work more.
  • Teachers Become Teachers because They Care About Education. ...
  • Teachers DO NOT Only Work During School Hours and Get Summer Off. ...
  • Teachers Want the Best for Their Students. ...
  • Collaboration is Key. ...
  • Teachers Have Outside Lives. ...
  • Teacher Are Constantly Learning.

How many teachers should be in a preschool classroom? ›

What are the Child Care Ratios under NAEYC?
Age CategoryStaff-to-Child RatioMaximum Class Size
Infant (Birth – 15 months)1 teacher:4 children8 Children
Toddler/Two (12-36 months)1 teacher:6 children12 Children
Preschool (30 months-5 years)1 teacher:10 children20 Children

What are 5 skills you need as an early childhood educator? ›

5 Essential Skills for an Early Childhood Educator
  • Patience. Children go through different stages of learning. ...
  • Communication. Young children aren't always good at expressing themselves or effectively communicating—that's why ECE teachers need to be excellent communicators. ...
  • Creativity. ...
  • Organization. ...
  • Enthusiasm.

What is the most important trait of an early childhood teacher? ›

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the most important characteristic for teachers of early childhood development is enthusiasm and passion for children. This goes well beyond enjoying being will children. It means wanting to make a difference to each and every child.


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