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Early Childhood Education

Children playing with toys from the ECC child care center.

Department: Education

Program Type: Education and Liberal Arts

Planning to Transfer? Learn more about the transfer process including the importance of choosing a major and transfer school.


Few occupations have as much direct impact on the life of young people as that of being an educator. If you want to make a difference daily, a career in teaching is a great choice. Elgin Community College offers several degree and certificate programs to prepare you for a university transfer to complete a Bachelor's Degree in elementary education.

Prepare for Immediate Employment

Educators can study for a certificate or AAS option at Elgin Community College. The US Department of Labor estimates kindergarten and elementary school teachers are projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, (accessed February 22, 2021).

Plan of Study and Course Descriptions

Review the ECC catalog for details about the plan of study and course descriptions.

Associate Degree

Vocational Specialist Certificate

Basic Certificate

How Do I Become a Teacher in Illinois?

To become a licensed teacher in Illinois, you must complete a 4-year Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Elementary Education (K-8) or Secondary Education for high school. Both include a final semester practicum as a teacher’s assistant (TA) at a qualifying school district. Upon graduation, you need to be granted a teaching certificate from the state, known as the Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL). ECC course curriculums must be strategically structured to meet university BS requirements for transfer. ECC offers pre-education courses through the Education Department and education-related courses in literature, math, music, psychology, and physical education.

Are Teachers in Demand?

Yes. Covid and cultural changes have affected academic policies at all levels, creating high turnover and personnel remapping of teaching professionals, opening the door for diverse opportunities in the field of education.

What's the Difference Between a Teacher and a Teacher’s Aide?

The amount of training between a teacher and a teacher’s aide is significant. Teachers must have a bachelor’s degree (four years) and an Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL). A Teacher’s Aide must also be licensed but does not require a bachelor’s degree. Licensing is done on a state-by-state basis. However, Illinois does offer full reciprocity if you have a license in another state.

Teacher’s Aides do not work independently. They work under the direction and supervision of a teacher. The teacher aide’s goal is to provide individualized attention to students and make the teacher’s job easier and more efficient. A teacher’s aide typically works in schools, at childcare centers, and for religious organizations. They generally do not work during the summer. Many teacher’s aides do not require a college degree but do have some amount of education and training similar to a Basic Vocational Certificate at ECC, which requires only 13 credit hours and is a stackable certificate that can be a starting point before going on to a Vocational Specialist Certificate, which typically takes 30 credit hours or up to 18 months to complete. 

Why should I get my Degree at ECC?

Our EDN program emphasizes diverse learning experiences and a community-minded approach. With access to various resources in the EDN classroom and opportunities for community engagement, we cultivate future teachers who are caring, community-minded, and culturally competent, ready to impact diverse educational settings positively. 

What Do Teachers Do?

  • Observe students to evaluate their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Instruct an entire class or smaller groups of students
  • Create lesson plans based on different subjects, such as reading, science, and math
  • Grade student assignments
  • Communicate with parents or guardians about their child’s progress

Becoming an Elementary or High School Education Teacher 

Elgin Community College offers an Associate in Science of Elementary Education for students who aspire to become licensed elementary teachers in the state of Illinois. Fundamental courses for teachers include the historical origins and philosophy of education, cultural awareness, technology, and emerging issues. Education-related courses in literature, math, music, and physical education are also offered.

Students interested in pursuing this path are urged to develop a best-colleges educational plan with an academic advisor to map out selected courses. Courses you take at ECC with plans to transfer to a college or university will differ based on the institution you choose to attend. We are endorsed by the Illinois Director's Credential Level I, Infant/Toddler credential, the ECC Credentials Level 2-4, and ESL/Bilingual Credential through Gateways for Illinois.

In addition to specific elementary education degrees or certifications, students in the career program will also receive appropriate gateways to opportunity credentials. Teachers must be certified by the state in which they reside and work. In Illinois, you need a degree in education and must be certified with an Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL).

Get additional information, including course listings and class descriptions.

Are you thinking about getting a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education?

Learn a typical course schedule to complete the Associate in Science (AS) degree within two years, then transfer to an accredited institution to complete a BS degree in Elementary Education.

Transfers Pathway Available

Learn more about ECC guidance plans regarding course requirements for select institutions.  ECC offers the PLEDGE program in partnership with NIU, enabling students to pursue a BS in Education: Elementary Education degree with an ESL/Bilingual endorsement. This unique initiative facilitates a seamless transition from ECC to NIU, empowering students to complete their degrees while remaining at ECC.

Learn more about Education Training at ECC!

Earning an Associate Degree at Elgin Community College can set your career in motion.

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Fax: 847-608-5458

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*Bilingual Admissions Coordinator: 847-214-7689


Dawn Munson
Professor II of Education

Building B, Room B278