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Early Childhood Educator or Mental Health Counselor

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hi there, 

I am trying and trying to make this decision and finally decided I should ask out there in the world and see if anyone can give me some good information. I am currently in a graduate program for certification and a masters in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. I have done a year and while I love working with children, especially at the kindergarten age, my heart has always been more in the counseling area rather than academic. I went with Early Childhood because I have always volunteered in my children's schools and have been told many times that I am meant to do that. It is a really nice compliment and it is definitely where I have more experience but I am so not interested in the academics. I have a bachelors in psychology. My question is, what is the job situation like in both of these fields? I have heard over and over again that teaching jobs are just so hard to come by at this time and i am so worried because I am taking student loans and will be in trouble if I cannot find a job. My program requires me to do an internship but also to do all of this individual field hours per class. I tried to get field hours at the local school (my children do not go there so I don't have that in) and was turned down which really worried me. I am considering changing my program to mental health counseling but am not sure of that job market either. I am in the new england area. Does anyone have any insight about either job market? Thank you so much.

post #2 of 6

What about becoming a school psychologist? It would utilize your skills in early childhood education but also allow you to counsel and consult with families and problem-solve in similar ways as a family therapist might, just in the school setting. With the increase in childhood developmental disorders such as autism, special education school psychologists will be in high demand. School psychologist can be hired with a masters degree, it doesn't require a doctorate although that can be a goal if you desire. 


I am a ECE (PreK) with an associates degree and four years experience as a lead teacher in a classroom. For years I planned on getting a bachelors in Elementary Ed and getting certified to get the salary and benefits but after realizing how much more I enjoy working one on one with kids and families, how passionate I am about child development and the science behind it all and how overwhelming managing a whole classroom of diverse kids can be...I plan to go the school psychologist route if I can get back to school any time soon (two young ones and pg right now so that throws a wrench in those plans...)


Good luck with your decision! Have you seen this website? Great resource for career info, job outlook forecasts, wages etc! 



post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Wow- thanks for the suggestions and the link. I love the idea of a school psychologist. I just think all of the schooling that lies ahead scares me but maybe that is silly. I guess you have to follow what you really love and not worry as much about the job market. I was originally going to become a school counselor but I was talked out of it because of all of the budget cuts. I know the state I live in has a shortage of school psychologists though. I am glad to hear that you love being a lead teacher for early childhood. I think I would love that too in many ways. So much to think about. Thanks again for the response. Sometimes it is just so nice to hear an encouraging word. Good luck to you!!!

post #4 of 6

In VT you'd be in high demand if you were a mental health counselor that was experienced and comfortable working with the early childhood age group! There is demand for this through the statewide Children's Integrated Services program. Not sure if New Hampshire has something comfortable. I'd look at Southern New Hampshire University as a possibility for integrating these two fields.




I can't find it but they used to offer a certificate program in early childhood mental health in their community mental health graduate program. There is still a course listed at the bottom of the above page.

post #5 of 6

Here in CA you would definitely be more in demand as a mental health counselor (assuming you were licensed). There are so many opportunities with it, too....you can work with foster family agencies, government agencies, military social services, etc, and there are so many specialties, too. It is hard to get internships/supervised hours, though, you do need to be proactive about that and start networking asap. Good luck!

post #6 of 6

I would also vote for the Mental Health Counselor degree - especially if that's more your passion. I think there's so much more you could do with it. Good luck!

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