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Early Childhood Education

Program Requirements: 

If you are passionate about working with young children and their families, a degree in early childhood education might be the right fit for you. The Early Childhood Education program at Gateway Technical College is a two-year associate degree program offered at the Racine Campus. Students will learn how to teach infants, toddlers and young children as well as how to be advocates for children and their families. The program’s academically rigorous coursework will leave graduates with a unique, clear understanding of the profession. Specifically, students will develop an understanding of early childhood development, the best ways to teach children and how to work with families. Students will also learn about the impact that public policy decisions have on children and families. All classes are offered in a face-to-face format, with selected classes also offered online, providing flexibility for busy schedules. Student teaching experience will equip students with a professional portfolio to document skills and strengths. Early Childhood Education graduates will be ready to go from the Gateway classroom to a classroom of children.

What does an early childhood educator do?

Graduates of the Early Childhood Education associate degree program will have a variety of career options available upon graduation. Some may choose to be self-employed family childcare providers or to open a daycare business. Others may find jobs at childcare centers, pre-K programs, Head Start programs or in public schools, as teachers’ assistants.

Learning by doing

Students will have plenty of hands-on experience throughout coursework, working with real materials and supplies that are used in teaching children in early childhood programs. The student teaching experience provides hands-on experience in caring for and educating young children. Each semester, students will have practical experiences as a student teacher in licensed community early childhood programs, where they will gain new ideas and strategies for working with children from birth to five years.


Students are encouraged to participate in the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Participation provides students with networking and professional development opportunities.


Each of Gateway’s Early Childhood instructors has real world experience in many aspects of early childhood education programming and bring those experiences into the classroom. In addition, instructors utilize a variety of community resources to enhance teaching, including speakers and field trips.

Job and salary outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of childcare workers is projected to increase by 11 percent through 2020. An increasing emphasis on early childhood education programs will increase demand for these workers. The mean hourly wage of childcare workers was $10.44 per hour in 2014. Those graduates with higher levels of education and credentials are able to obtain positions with higher earnings.

Previous Gateway graduates have been employed by childcare centers throughout the three-county area including; Kenosha Unified Head Start Program, Racine Head Start and the SC Johnson Childcare Learning Center – A Bright Horizons Family Solutions Center

Certification and Licensing

One way to boost income potential is to earn certifications, which can be done simultaneously while earning the associate degree. Students completing the Early Childhood Education program have the opportunity to obtain inclusion, infant toddler and preschool credentials through the Wisconsin Registry.


These credentials benefit students as it relates to Wisconsin YoungStar, where licensed centers earn stars based in part on the educational achievements of their employees. Centers are motivated because rates for children in Wisconsin Shares vary, depending on the number of stars a center earns.


Gateway’s associate degree goes a long way towards earning credentials, as many of the required Gateway courses overlap with required certification courses. For both the Inclusion and the Infant Toddler Credentials, two of four courses are required for the associate degree. For the Preschool Credential, five of six courses are already required.


An additional option available is to take only the courses required for a specific certification(s), without earning an associate degree. This option might be good for those already working in the field who want to earn a credential or for those who are not ready or able to earn an associate degree. The credential process consists of completing all the courses in each credential, then submitting a portfolio, and finally, going before a commission for determination on whether or not the credential is earned. This all goes through the Wisconsin Registry.


Additional Requirements

After Acceptance

Background and Health Information requirement questions?
Please contact the Admissions Office at


Christine Spang

Christina Cook​

Program Administration

Terry Simmons, Dean