Early Childhood Teacher Certification in New York

New York’s Early Childhood Education Scene

New York, known as the Empire State, is also recognized as one of the top states in the nation for its education system. It is ranked the third best state on Education Week’s Quality Counts report card, which is the most comprehensive assessment of education in the United States. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is part of the University of the State of New York (USNY), one of the most complete, interconnected systems of educational services in the country. The state’s early childhood education system is comprised of child care, Early Head Start, Head Start, and Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK). There are many opportunities for those pursuing a career in early childhood education in the state of New York.

Getting Your New York Teaching Certification

The New York State Education Department includes extensive information about the ways to obtain certification/licensure. You will need to familiarize yourself with this site, as it contains many resources valuable to both aspiring teachers and current teachers.

There are four main types of certificates available. The Initial Certificate is an entry-level certificate for classroom teachers that is valid for five years. The Professional Certificate is an advanced-level certificate for classroom teachers that is continuously valid, conditional upon completing mandatory professional development hours. The Provisional Certificate is an entry-level certificate for pupil personnel professionals that is valid for five years. Lastly, the Permanent Certificate is an advanced-level certificate for pupil personnel professionals that is valid for life unless otherwise revoked.

Certificates are available to an applicant who:

  • has graduated from an approved teacher preparation program
  • is a career changer
  • holds U.S. or Non-U.S. Credentials
  • possesses a certificate from another state
  • holds an NYS Professional License
  • is a college professor with an advanced degree in math or science
  • or is a National Board certified teacher.

To apply, register online through the TEACH System. Visit the Office of Teaching Initiatives for information about required tests, regulations, fees, etc.

Check out the Frequently Asked Questions page or contact the customer service department should you have any further questions about the licensure/certification process.


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New York’s Degree Programs in Early Childhood Education

There are approximately 50 accredited early childhood education colleges in New York.

is a private institution with a strong academic reputation and impressive student-to-faculty ratio. It offers a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree in early childhood education (infant/toddler, pre-K, or K through two). It has a large network of partnership schools and serves some of the poorest communities in New York City.

is a private Ivy League research institution that offers three initial certification programs in early childhood education. Master’s degrees in early childhood education (birth through eight years), early childhood special education (birth through eight years), and a dual certification are available. Columbia also offers a master’s degree in elementary education (grades one through six).

part of the State University of New York system, offers undergraduate programs in early childhood (birth through grade two), childhood (grades one through six), and a combination of both. Graduate students can pursue a master’s degree in childhood and early childhood curriculum and instruction, as well as childhood and early childhood education initial teacher certification at the master’s level.

has small classes and a beautiful campus. It offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in early childhood education (birth through grade two), early childhood and childhood education (birth through two and grades one through six), and elementary education (grades one through six).

Getting a Job as an Early Childhood Teacher in New York

There are several different avenues you can take in pursuing a career in this constantly evolving field.

Public schools employ the vast majority of career seekers in early childhood education. To apply for a job in New York City, check the New York City Department of Education page. The Online Application System for Educators (OLAS) serves several school districts and regions of New York state as well. Applicants can view open positions through this site and school districts can view applicant information, resumes and cover letters.

Other employers to become familiar with are private and Montessori schools and Head Start. Be sure to research the child care centers in your area, such as Bright Horizons, as many of these centers are in constant need of highly qualified teachers and assistant teachers. GreatSchools.org can help you find top-rated preschools and elementary schools in your community as well.

Professional Groups for Teachers

There are many professional organizations for teachers in the state of New York that share similar goals.

The New York State Union of Teachers (NYSUT) represents more than 600,000 teachers and school-related professionals. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest professional employee organization.

The New York State Association for the Education of Young Children (NYSAEYC) increases public awareness of the importance of early childhood education and provides professional development for educators. It is also an affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), an organization consisting of 80,000 members.

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) negotiates and advocates for fair salaries, professional opportunities and improved working conditions. It represents about 200,000 educators in New York City public schools.

The New York State Council of Educational Associations (NYSCEA) is an organization consisting of professional educational associations that meet to learn from and communicate with the New York State Education Department.


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New York ECE Bloggers

The New York Times Education blog covers hot topics current in New York schools.

The Education Speaks blog is devoted to discussing the issues shaping New York’s public education system. Several devoted teachers also offer insightful information through their personal blogs.

Little Busy Bodies is written by a preschool teacher who shares her thoughts about reaching the early childhood learner.

Erica Bohror’s First Grade is written by a first grade teacher who shares numerous resources and lesson plan ideas for the classroom.

Chalk Talk is written by a veteran kindergarten teacher of 14 years who shares her teaching ideas and tips for early childhood teachers.

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