Preschool Director Career Guide 2024

Table of Contents

Preschool Director Salary in United States for 2023

Average Annual Salary: $49,690 Hourly Rate: $23.89

Data sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor via the ONET Web API. Updated at December 8, 2023

Best Colleges and Universities for Preschool Directors in 2023

Best College Majors for Preschool Directors in 2023

Projected Job Employment for Preschool Director:

Estimated YearProjected YearEstimated EmploymentProjected Employment% ChangeProjected Annual Job Opening

Preschool Director Career Path Overview

The career path of a Preschool Director is rewarding and multifaceted, offering various opportunities for professional growth and development. This career path typically begins with acquiring relevant education and experience in early childhood education or related fields, followed by advancement into leadership roles such as a preschool director. This role requires a unique blend of educational expertise, administrative skills, and interpersonal abilities.

Education Requirements

Preschool directors usually need at least a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field. Some states require preschool directors to have a degree in child development, which includes coursework in child psychology, child nutrition, and child behavior. A master's degree in education administration or a related field can also be beneficial and may be required for some positions.

Experience and Skills

Before stepping into the role of a Preschool Director, individuals typically gain experience in the field of education. This may involve working as a teacher or assistant teacher in an early childhood setting. It's crucial to develop an understanding of child development, teaching strategies, and classroom management during this time. Preschool Directors also need strong leadership skills to manage staff, design program plans, and handle administrative tasks. They must have excellent communication skills to interact with teachers, parents, and children. Additionally, organizational skills are vital for managing the school’s resources effectively.

Licensing and Certification

Most states require Preschool Directors to be licensed, though the requirements vary by state. Generally, licensing requires a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, passing an exam, and completing a certain number of hours of childcare experience. Some states also require directors to complete annual continuing education credits. In addition to state licensing, Preschool Directors can also pursue certification from professional organizations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This certification can enhance a director's professional standing and may offer additional career advancement opportunities.

Career Advancement

Preschool Directors have various opportunities for career advancement. With additional education or experience, they could move into positions as education administrators in elementary and secondary schools, or become superintendents. Some may also choose to transition into roles in child and family social services, while others might decide to open their own preschools.

Job Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a steady job growth rate for education administrators, including Preschool Directors, over the next decade. The median annual wage for education administrators at the preschool level was $48,210 as of May 2020. Salaries can vary greatly depending on location, experience, and the size of the school. In conclusion, becoming a Preschool Director offers an opportunity to make a significant impact on early childhood education. This career path requires a solid educational foundation, relevant experience, and a dedication to nurturing young learners' growth and development.

Preschool Director Career Path Education and Training

If you're considering a career path as a Preschool Director, it's important to understand the education and training requirements that will prepare you for this role. This is a leadership position that calls for a combination of education in early childhood development and management skills.

Educational Requirements

The first step on your journey to becoming a Preschool Director is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Although the specific degree can vary, common fields of study include early childhood education, child development or a related field. These programs provide foundational knowledge in child development, learning strategies, and curriculum design. In some cases, preschools may require their directors to hold a master’s degree in early childhood education or educational leadership. This advanced degree provides deeper insights into educational theory, child psychology, and leadership methods.

Certification and Licensing

Depending on the state where you plan to work, you may also need to acquire specific certification or licensing. Many states require Preschool Directors to hold a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or a Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) credential. The CDA credential involves coursework, experience in the field, and a period of observation. The CCP credential, on the other hand, requires ongoing professional development and a demonstration of competency in certain areas.

Experience in Early Childhood Education

In addition to educational prerequisites, experience working with children is often a key requirement for becoming a Preschool Director. This experience can be gained through roles such as a preschool teacher or child care worker. This hands-on experience allows future directors to understand the day-to-day operations of a preschool and how best to support both staff and students.

Management Training

As Preschool Directors are responsible for overseeing staff, developing program policies, managing budgets, and communicating with parents and community members, having experience or training in management can be highly beneficial. This might include coursework or a degree in educational administration, business management, or a related field.

Continuing Education

The field of early childhood education is constantly evolving with new research and methodologies. As such, Preschool Directors should be committed to lifelong learning and professional development. This might involve attending workshops, conferences, or additional coursework to stay updated on the latest trends and advancements in the field. To sum up, the career path of a Preschool Director is rooted in education and experience in early childhood development, supplemented by management training. This combination prepares individuals to effectively lead preschool programs, ensuring they provide the highest quality of early education possible.

Preschool Director Career Path Progression

As an expert in the field, I can tell you that the career path progression of a Preschool Director is one filled with opportunities for growth, continuous learning, and rewarding experiences.

Starting as a Preschool Teacher

The journey typically begins with a role as a preschool teacher. In this position, individuals gain hands-on experience with children, teaching them foundational knowledge and skills. They also learn about classroom management, curriculum planning, and child development. A bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field is generally required for this role, along with some states requiring certification.

Moving to a Lead Teacher or Coordinator Role

After gaining experience and demonstrating competence and commitment in the preschool teaching role, individuals often move up to a lead teacher or coordinator position. This role involves more administrative tasks such as overseeing lesson plans, coordinating with other teachers, and handling parent-teacher relations. These positions provide an opportunity for aspiring directors to develop leadership skills and gain a broader understanding of preschool operations.

Stepping into an Assistant Director Position

The next step on the career path is often an assistant director position. Here, individuals start to take on more responsibilities related to the overall management of the preschool. This could involve staff hiring and training, budgeting, ensuring compliance with state regulations, and more. This role serves as a stepping stone to the director position, offering valuable experience in administrative tasks while still maintaining some level of interaction with children and teachers.

Becoming a Preschool Director

Finally, after gaining sufficient experience and demonstrating a strong ability to manage and lead, individuals can become Preschool Directors. This role involves overseeing all aspects of the preschool’s operations from curriculum planning to staff management and financial oversight. Many preschool directors also engage in community outreach to promote their programs and build relationships with families and local organizations.

Continuing Education and Professional Development

Even after reaching the director level, the learning doesn't stop. Many Preschool Directors engage in continuing education and professional development to stay updated on the latest in early childhood education research, teaching methodologies, and administrative practices. Some directors may even go on to earn a master’s degree in early childhood education or educational leadership to further enhance their skills and knowledge. In conclusion, the career path progression of a Preschool Director is marked by continuous learning, skill-building, and increasing responsibility. It's a rewarding journey that requires dedication, passion for early childhood education, and strong leadership skills.

Preschool Director Career Path Specializations and Subfields

The field of early childhood education presents numerous avenues for specialization, offering preschool directors a broad spectrum of opportunities to expand their professional skills and focus on specific areas of interest. Diving into these specializations can significantly enhance a director's career trajectory and make them more marketable in the competitive educational field. Some of these specializations include:

Early Childhood Education Administration

One major specialization within the preschool director career path is in early childhood education administration. This specialization focuses on managing the administrative aspects of an early childhood education center or preschool. Skills learned include budgeting, personnel management, program development, and compliance with state and federal regulations.

Special Education

Another important subfield is special education. Preschool directors with this specialization are trained to accommodate children with diverse needs, including physical, cognitive, emotional, or learning disabilities. They work closely with teachers, parents, and other professionals to create inclusive learning environments that support every child's growth and development.

Curriculum and Instruction

A specialization in curriculum and instruction provides preschool directors with the skills needed to develop age-appropriate curriculums that stimulate young minds. Directors focusing on this area work to ensure that educational programs are engaging, nurturing, and promote the overall development of children.

Child Development

Child development is a crucial area of focus for preschool directors. Understanding the stages of child development helps directors plan suitable activities, understand behavior patterns, and create an environment conducive to learning and growth.

Family and Community Services

Preschool directors may also specialize in family and community services. This subfield involves working closely with families to support their children's development and learning at home. It also includes building relationships within the community to create a supportive network for the preschool. These specializations and subfields allow preschool directors to tailor their career paths to match their passions and interests. Each specialization comes with its unique challenges and rewards, offering directors the chance to make a significant impact on young learners' lives.

Preschool Director Career Path Job Market and Outlook

As you consider a career as a Preschool Director, it's vital to understand the current job market and future outlook of this profession. The job market for Preschool Directors is influenced by several factors such as changes in population, educational policies, funding for early childhood education, and societal attitudes towards preschool education. In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on early childhood education, causing a surge in demand for qualified Preschool Directors. This is due in part to research showing the profound impact of early education on children's cognitive and social development. Consequently, more parents are enrolling their children in preschools, driving the need for experienced and competent directors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for education administrators, including Preschool Directors, is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029. This growth rate is about as fast as the average for all occupations. However, the actual growth may vary by region, with areas experiencing population growth likely seeing a higher demand for Preschool Directors. Moreover, the job market for Preschool Directors can be competitive. Those with advanced degrees in early childhood education or related fields, along with several years of experience in childcare or educational administration, generally have the best job prospects. Certifications like the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or the Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) designation can also enhance a candidate's employability. The future outlook for Preschool Directors appears promising as well. With ongoing debates about the importance of preschool in preparing children for future academic success, the role of Preschool Directors in shaping quality educational programs is becoming increasingly recognized. Additionally, as more states move toward universal pre-K programs, opportunities for Preschool Directors will likely expand. In conclusion, while the job market for Preschool Directors can be competitive, those with the right qualifications and a commitment to quality early childhood education can find rewarding opportunities in this field. The continued focus on the importance of preschool education suggests a positive outlook for the profession in the years to come.

Preschool Director Career Path Salary and Compensation

The position of a Preschool Director is one that combines the reward of nurturing young minds with the satisfaction of leadership and management. When it comes to salary and compensation, various factors come into play, such as the size and location of the preschool, experience, and educational qualifications. Here, we will delve into an in-depth analysis of the salary and compensation packages that you can expect on a Preschool Director career path.

Average Salary

As per data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for education administrators, including preschool and childcare center directors, was $48,210 as of May 2020. However, salaries can vary widely depending on several factors. For instance, directors working in regions with a higher cost of living or at larger preschools often earn more.

Entry-Level Salary

If you're just starting your career as a Preschool Director, you can expect to earn a lower salary initially. Entry-level Preschool Directors typically earn between $30,000 and $40,000 per year. However, this figure can increase significantly with experience and further education.

Experienced Preschool Director Salary

With several years of experience under your belt and a proven track record of effective leadership, the salary for a Preschool Director can rise considerably. Experienced Preschool Directors can expect to earn anywhere from $50,000 to over $80,000 per year.

Additional Compensation

In addition to the base salary, Preschool Directors may also receive additional compensation in the form of benefits. These can include health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and sometimes even tuition reimbursement for further education. Some preschools may also offer bonuses based on performance or enrollment numbers.

Factors Influencing Salary

Several factors can influence the salary of a Preschool Director. These include the size and funding of the preschool, its geographical location, and the director's level of education and experience. For instance, directors at larger, private preschools in urban areas often earn more than those at smaller, rural schools. The Preschool Director's educational background also plays a significant role. Those with advanced degrees in early childhood education or related fields are often able to command higher salaries. In conclusion, while the salary for a Preschool Director can vary, it is generally competitive, with opportunities for growth and additional benefits. The fulfillment that comes from playing a pivotal role in shaping young minds, however, is priceless.

Preschool Director Career Path Tips for Success

Pursuing a career as a preschool director can be both challenging and rewarding. As a leader in early childhood education, you will play an essential role in shaping the future of young children. However, becoming successful in this career requires careful planning and diligent efforts. Here are some practical tips to guide you on your journey.

Educational Qualifications

To start, you'll need a solid educational background. Most preschool directors hold at least a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field. Some states and institutions may require a master's degree. Completing coursework in child development, curriculum development, and organizational leadership can give you an edge. Additionally, acquiring certifications such as Child Development Associate (CDA) or Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) can further bolster your qualifications.


Hands-on experience is crucial in this field. Working as a preschool teacher provides valuable insights into children's learning needs and helps hone your skills in classroom management. Many successful preschool directors have several years of teaching experience before stepping into a leadership role.

Leadership Skills

As a director, you need excellent leadership skills. You'll be responsible for managing staff, overseeing curriculum implementation, and ensuring compliance with state regulations. Leadership training or experience in a managerial role can prove beneficial.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Effective communication and interpersonal skills are vital for success as a preschool director. You'll interact with teachers, parents, children, and community members regularly. Therefore, it's crucial to convey information clearly and build strong relationships.

Continuing Education

The field of early childhood education is continually evolving. Stay abreast of the latest research and trends by pursuing continuing education opportunities. Attend workshops, seminars, and conferences. Join professional organizations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to gain access to resources and networking opportunities.


Building a strong professional network can open doors to new opportunities and provide support during challenges. Connect with other early childhood education professionals, participate in community events, and leverage social media platforms to expand your network.

Patience and Empathy

Working with young children requires patience and empathy. Understanding their needs and handling their emotions effectively is critical for creating a nurturing learning environment. Following these tips can help you navigate your career path successfully as a preschool director. Remember, success doesn't come overnight. It takes time, effort, and commitment. However, the impact you make on young lives can be incredibly rewarding, making all the hard work worth it.

What is a Preschool Director?

A Preschool Director is a leadership position in early childhood education. They are responsible for overseeing and managing all aspects of the preschool's operations, including staff management, curriculum planning, financial budgeting, parent communication, and ensuring adherence to local and state regulations. A Preschool Director ensures that the preschool provides a safe, nurturing, and stimulating environment that promotes the social, physical, and intellectual growth of children.

What does a Preschool Director do?

A Preschool Director has a multifaceted role. They are involved in hiring, training, and supervising preschool teachers and support staff. They develop and implement curriculum standards, create educational policies, manage the preschool's budget, and organize school events. They also communicate with parents regarding their child's progress and any issues that may arise. Furthermore, they are responsible for maintaining the licensing requirements of the preschool and ensuring it complies with health and safety regulations.

How to become a Preschool Director?

Becoming a Preschool Director usually requires a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education or a related field. Some states also require certification in child development or early childhood education. Experience in teaching or child care is often required, as well as experience in administration or management. The prospective director should have strong leadership skills, excellent communication skills, and a passion for working with children.

What skills are needed to be a Preschool Director?

A Preschool Director needs to have strong leadership and management skills to oversee staff and run the preschool effectively. They should have excellent communication skills to interact with children, parents, and staff. They need to be organized and detail-oriented to manage the administrative tasks of running a preschool. Problem-solving skills are essential for dealing with any challenges that may arise. A strong understanding of child development and early childhood education is also crucial.

What is the job outlook for Preschool Directors?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for Preschool and Childcare Center Directors is projected to grow 1% from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations. However, the demand for preschool programs is expected to continue as more emphasis is placed on early childhood education, leading to potential job opportunities for Preschool Directors.

What is the average salary of a Preschool Director?

The median annual wage for preschool and childcare center directors was $48,210 in May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, wages can vary depending on factors such as location, years of experience, and the size of the preschool.

What are the career advancement opportunities for a Preschool Director?

Preschool Directors have various opportunities for career advancement. They may advance to higher-level administrative roles in larger preschools or childcare centers, or they could become a regional or district manager overseeing multiple locations. Some Preschool Directors may choose to open their own preschool or childcare center. Additionally, with further education, they may transition into roles in child development or early childhood education at the college level.