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Everything to Know About a Preschool Teacher Salary

Learn about the average preschool teacher salary and job outlook to decide if it’s the right career for you.

Everything to Know About a Preschool Teacher Salary

Everything to Know About a Preschool Teacher Salary

Being an educator is one of the most important and rewarding careers. It offers the ability to make a difference in a child's life and have a hand in shaping the next generation. If you’re considering a job in education, one of the first things to figure out is what age group you prefer. If you’d prefer working with very young children, then being a preschool teacher could be a great option. 

This article provides valuable insight into the average preschool teacher salary as well as more details about what the job entails, education requirements, and the projected job outlook.

What is the average preschool teacher salary? 

Preschool teacher salaries can range from around $23,000 to $58,000 annually. As of May 2022 data, the median annual wage was around $35,330 or $16.99 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Preschool teachers earning the least earn roughly $23,900 yearly, while top earners earn about $58,500.

Percentile wage estimates for preschool teachers




50% (median)



Hourly wage






Annual wage






Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022

What is the average preschool teacher's salary based on geographic location? 

Preschool teacher salaries vary based on geographic location, ranging from $24,540 to $32,220 in a low-paying state like Alabama to $40,010 to $59,110 in a high-paying state like California.

Top paying states

Annual mean wage for preschool teachers

District of Columbia




New York


New Jersey




Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022

The average salaries in the top paying metropolitan areas all top the national average.

Metropolitan area

Annual mean wage for preschool teachers

Madera, CA $69,480
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $57,070
Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ $53,490
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $52,060
Ocean City, NJ $51,840
Binghamton, NY $50,500
Salinas, CA $50,000
Odessa, TX $49,810
Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ $49,450
Modesto, CA $49,060

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022

How much does a preschool teacher make based on experience level? 

The average entry-level annual salary for a preschool teacher is around $40,000, while an experienced teacher with 15+ years of experience can make an average of $54,000 per year or more.

Years of experience

Average preschool teacher salary

0-1 years


1-3 years


4-6 years


7-9 years


10-14 years


15+ years


Source: Glassdoor, October 2023

What are preschool teacher jobs really like?

Preschool typically begins for children between two and five years old. It’s a very tender time for children, especially regarding their overall development and growth. Preschool teachers have an immense responsibility to prepare these young children for the rest of their education. They do so by focusing on the four developmental domains: cognitive, physical, social-emotional, and language. Progress in these domains serves as the foundation for the academic skills children will learn in elementary school and beyond. 

Since preschool teachers work with young children, they may be in a public or private elementary school, a standalone preschool, or an early childhood education program. Their classroom sizes can vary with a range of 10-24 children. 

The role of a preschool teacher is to teach foundational skills that contribute to a child's learning and growth. Preschool is where children learn essential social and emotional skills that help them with conflict resolution, communication, and problem-solving.

Preschool teachers are also more involved with the families of their children since this is such a critical developmental stage. This communication between teacher and family is essential because it helps ensure alignment between what they’re learning at school and practicing at home. 

Overall, the main responsibilities of a preschool teacher include:

  • Developing lesson plans based on the learning objectives and outcomes set by the school 
  • Teaching educational basics like the alphabet, numbers, colors, writing, and reading
  • Assessing each child’s academic, social, and behavioral progress throughout the year and continuously adjusting their educational plan as needed
  • Communicating with families about their child’s learning plan, overall development, and what they can do at home to supplement what they learn at school
  • Managing a classroom, including helping children resolve conflicts and increasing their attention span
  • Understanding how to identify and adjust to children who are experiencing behavioral issues, have a learning disorder, or are neurodiverse

Preschool teacher education requirements

The beginning of your journey to becoming an educator is, naturally, a good education. The minimum amount of education required to become a preschool teacher will depend on your state and whether you’ll teach in public schools. On top of a degree, a state or your specific school may also require an educator preparation program, various certifications, and a teaching license. Certain states may also require your degree to be in early childhood education specifically, or will require additional qualifications. Also, you may be required to renew your license or certification every few years. 

Benefits of preschool teacher jobs

As with any job, you’ll be offered certain benefits in addition to your annual salary. This may include healthcare, childcare services, paid time off, retirement benefits, or opportunities for raises or professional development. Separately, there will also be the terms of your employment as a teacher. This may include your maximum classroom size, being provided an assistant, or whether the school year is 10 months long or year-round. The best preschool teacher job offer for you will depend on what fits your lifestyle and needs, and you can often negotiate for what’s most important to you. 

Preschool differs from daycare, but there can be some overlap in age groups served and daycare teacher salary. Daycares are typically full-time childcare programs suitable for working families that typically serve infants and toddlers. Daycare is focused less on structure and academic growth and more on childcare and skills development.

Most daycares only require a GED or high school diploma to be a daycare worker, but more education and experience is typically recommended to move up to a daycare director. If flexible hours and more freedom in your day-to-day are especially important benefits to you, then being a daycare worker is another great career option to consider.

Job outlook for preschool teachers

The demand for preschool teachers is growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment of preschool teachers is expected to grow 3% from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations. They project about 56,300 openings for preschool teachers each year over the next decade. This means that there are many opportunities for preschool teachers to find work once they graduate from school. If you want a rewarding career with an opportunity to positively influence children's development, then it’s definitely a great option to consider. But, keep in mind that there can be a lot of variation in salary, benefits, and job satisfaction in the education sector.

Generally, as you gain more experience in any career path, your salary should also increase. For preschool teachers, additional education usually provides a better opportunity for increasing your salary or landing a position with more responsibility. A study from the National Center for Education Statistics reveals that educators with a master’s degree will typically earn higher than those with just a bachelor’s degree, even if they have equal experience.

So, are you ready to become a preschool teacher?

Preschool teaching can vary widely from state to state and program to program. If you decide to pursue it as a career, be open-minded throughout the process. You may discover that you’re more suited to another age group or a different part of the education sector such as administration. If your motivation is to influence the next generation and make a positive impact, then becoming a preschool teacher might be right for you.

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