Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start?

Contact a man who is currently working with young children and use him as a resource for beginning. Start out by serving as a substitute or volunteer in an early childhood program - they are usually very eager to find good subs and volunteers. Talk to the early childhood department at a technical school or university. Contact your local AEYC affiliate for advice.

What is it like being a man in early childhood?

Men can serve in any capacity in early childhood education that women do. You can be a family day care provider, child care center teacher or director, Head Start teacher or driver, public school special education teacher or family educator, college or technical school instructor, university lab school teacher, and this list just begins to scratch the surface of possibilities.

Who can I talk to, to find out about teaching?

A good place to start is to contact your local professional association or local college's early childhood and education department for names of men willing to talk to other men about teaching. If all else fails contact MenTeach and we can provide you with at least one man in your area to talk to. You can also post on the MenTeach forums to ask your questions.

What kind of training and experience do I need to get started in education?

Basically you can get started with some basic training or experience. Most child care centers will give any man a try at being a substitute aide or assistant if your references and background checks out.

To teach in an elementary or secondary school will require more training and experience. Once you substitute teach, part or full-time employment may be offered sooner or later. Child care and education teachers need varying levels of education and/or experience depending upon state rules. Higher paying jobs connected to public schools require bachelor's degrees in education and licensure and some teacher jobs require additional coursework such as in the case of an Early Childhood Special Education teacher. College instructors usually require at least a Master's degree and usually a Doctor's degree.

How can I earn enough money to support myself let alone a family?

There are no easy answers to this question. In child care, salaries are still pitifully low. If you want to stay in child care as a teacher you have to find other ways to supplement your income. (There are exceptions to this like the Massachusetts subsidy plan or the TEACH/Retain grants.)

A person can make a descent living as a public school teacher. And some schools and programs (for example, Head Start) do pay more. If a higher salary is really important to you and you want to stay in education, then you may have to consider higher paying options like being a director, principal, or working for the public schools, or teaching at a college.

If you work in special education, not only will you be in higher demand, you can also secure better pay. Another alternative is extra work like working evenings as a child care worker for evening programs or giving after hours workshops. This involves working more than a regular work week and can quickly lead to burnout – but – it can also be very rewarding because you will learn as much as you teach.

What age group of young children do men work best with?

Despite some misconceptions that men can only relate well with preschoolers or school-age children, men can also work well with infants and toddlers. Don't settle with an age group that does not seem right to you until you have tried a different age group.

At what age or stage in one's career is it best to get in the field?

There is no magical age here. It used to be that a lot of men stumbled into early childhood work in their 20s or 30s after starting a different career and not finding the first career meaningful. Sometimes men have a successful career and want to give back to the community. There have been police officers, lawyers, firefighters and soldiers.

Now we see more adolescent men in education courses at technical colleges and universities. We are also seeing men in their 40s and 50s dropping an unsatisfactory career and getting in education. And we are also seeing some men retiring and beginning a new career in education or child care. If it feels like the right thing to do, then it is the right time for you.

What are the benefits of working with children?

Talk to a man in education and he will tell you how great it is and how tough it is. Financial benefits are small. Pay is low and benefits are skimpy but if you find you love this work you will enjoy good physical and mental health. And the intangibles are too numerous to list here. Suffice it to say that the involvement in the growth, the joys, the energy, the love of children is a reward that has no price tag.

How can I earn more money?

Unions often raises salaries and benefits, so working in programs or school districts that have unions usually have higher salaries. You can seek outside work in early childhood and education like giving workshops, teaching classes, or doing respite care. You can move up to higher paying jobs like being a director, principal or working for the public schools.

Where can I get support from other men in education?

Some parts of the country have organizations and/or events for men in education. Contact your local professional association or MenTeach for more information. Seek out workshops at conferences that deal with issues about men and talk to the men there. Organize your own group if needed.