By: Meghan, guest author – you can follow her journey to becoming a teacher at @journalofafutureteacher
Please note: According to the UMD website, “As of September 14, 2020, students may no longer be admitted to the UECH major due to program restructuring.” However, UMD still offers a minor in Early Childhood Studies.
For any new college graduate, the future may seem completely open and daunting. You have your degree (hooray!), but what can you do with it? How can you apply it in the real world?
When it comes to a Unified Early Childhood Studies major, there are several career options. Thankfully, you would be qualified for several entry-level positions after graduation with this major. Additionally, there are other careers that become available if you were to pursue a graduate degree.
What is the Unified Early Childhood Studies (UECH) major?
Hold on a second! Before diving into possible careers, what is the Unified Early Childhood Studies (UECH) major?
The UECH major is a program which “has an interdisciplinary curriculum that prepares you to work in a variety of settings with children of diverse ability levels, from birth through age eight. With your courses in child development, early childhood special education, and parent-child relations, you can pursue a dual licensure in early childhood education and early childhood special education” (source).
The UECH major requires around 1400 hours of in-classroom experience working with children in the settings as listed above. After taking prerequisite courses, students enter into a block program, which provides intense instruction and in-classroom experiences within the field of early childhood education. Students are required to complete five blocks, one block per semester.
Last fall, I was admitted into the UECH block program after an application process. I am currently in Block 1 as a sophomore. As I have observed so far in my experience in the blocks, there are several courses that are linked with a separate classroom experience, or practicum.
Although I am unable to complete practicum in-person due to COVID-19 regulations, I still gain observational skills and knowledge that I will apply in my career as an early childhood educator. For example, in my Early Relationships course, I will gain observational skills and knowledge on the importance of families and early relationships in early childhood.
Put simply, the UECH major will give you the required skills to earn licensure in both early childhood education and early childhood special education. The early childhood education field serves children from birth through age eight.
If you are looking for a career in an early childhood field immediately after graduation, here are a few entry-level careers suited for a Unified Early Childhood Studies major:
- K-3 General Education Teacher
- Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
- Child Advocate and Child Care Center Director
After certification, you would be qualified for any one of these three positions.
There are several other career opportunities that exist for someone with a degree in UECH. These could include: Nanny, Preschool teacher, Toddler teacher, Infant teacher, Teacher’s assistant or aide, Family Support Specialist, Early Childhood Consultant, and many more!
Generally, you would be qualified to work in most early childhood settings.
Advanced Degree Positions
If you decide to earn a graduate degree after completing the UECH program, there are a few career opportunities that you would be qualified for, including the following: Dean of Students, Principal, Academic Advisor, School Counselor, and more.
Even if you decide to pursue an entry-level position in an early childhood setting, a graduate degree may be helpful to your career. For example, I have worked with teachers who have received a master’s degree in curriculum and several different kinds of certifications. As an educator, you are always able to expand your knowledge and individualize your studies if you continue your education with advanced degrees.
Careers of Recent Graduates
Are you interested in what recent graduates from the UECH program are up to? Here is a sample of positions UECH graduates have received within the first year after graduation (source):
- Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
- Special Education Teacher
- Infant Teacher
- English Language Teacher (Abroad)
- After School Enrichment Instructor & Manager
As seen through this list, there are several other career opportunities for Unified Early Childhood Studies students. To reiterate, the UECH major spans the first eight years of life and addresses early childhood education and early childhood special education.
Conclusion: Why major in Unified Early Childhood Studies?
Early childhood educators are currently in high demand.
If you graduate with a degree in UECH, you have the ability to support young children during their most sensitive periods of development. The first five years of life create the foundation for healthy brain development and success in various settings.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) further describes the importance of a child’s first five years of life: “Recent research confirms that the first five years are particularly important for the development of the child’s brain, and the first three years are the most critical in shaping the child’s brain architecture. Early experiences provide the base for the brain’s organizational development and functioning throughout life. They have a direct impact on how children develop learning skills as well as social and emotional abilities.”
Early childhood educators and UECH majors work to support a child’s early development and their relationships with surrounding family and community members.
Other sources used:
• Early Childhood Education Zone
• What can I do with an Early Childhood Education Degree?