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Early childhood education/social pedagogy as a career

Since an early childhood education institution is the first education institution in a child’s life, the kindergarten teacher plays an important role. Kindergarten teachers may work in a variety of settings, e.g. in a crèche for children aged between one and three, in a kindergarten group for children between approximately three and six years old, or in an extended-age group for children between approximately one and six years old. They also have the option to gain the additional qualification of after-school care teacher during their training, enabling them to look after children aged between six and 14 in an after-school club.

Qualified kindergarten teachers are in great demand and employment opportunities are very good in all federal states.

In addition to kindergarten teachers, there are also assistants. As teaching assistants have educational knowledge, they help kindergarten teachers to prepare educational work.

The social pedagogy profession is also of great importance in our society. Social pedagogues work, for example, in shared-living communities, where they look after school children, teenagers and (young) adults, in social facilities for people with disabilities and in extracurricular youth work.

Qualified social pedagogues are in great demand. Here too, employment opportunities are very good in all federal states.

Training opportunities

Kindergarten teacher training or social pedagogue training can be undertaken at a Training Institute for Early Childhood Education (BAfEP) or a Training Institute for Social Pedagogy (BASOP) respectively. These types of school are colleges for higher vocational education (BHS) and, like all other BHS, conclude with a Reifeprüfung and diploma examination. In addition, both five-year higher-level school types lead to a university entrance qualification. The courses can also be completed as a postsecondary VET course and then conclude with a diploma examination. The admission requirements are a Reifeprüfung, limited higher education entrance examination (Studienberechtigungsprüfung) or higher education entrance examination (Berufsreifeprüfung). A postsecondary VET course takes two years or, if attended part-time while in employment, five to six semesters.

As of the 2019/2020 school year, there is also a three-year College for Teaching Assistant Careers. After attending this three-year college (or any other college), students have the opportunity to qualify as a kindergarten teacher after a further three years of training.

The prerequisite for attending these training courses is a positive aptitude test.

For the special needs sector, i.e. working with children, young people and adults with disabilities, there are three-year courses for inclusive early childhood education at the BAfEP and for inclusive social pedagogy at the BASOP. These are part-time courses for those in employment. Upon completing the course, students qualify as a special needs kindergarten teacher or special needs educator.

The prerequisite for attending these courses is prior completion of basic training as a kindergarten teacher or social pedagogue.

Applicants should apply or register at the BAfEP or BASOP school directly. More information, e.g. about open days, is available on the schools’ websites. Contact details for the schools and links to their websites can be found here:www.schule.at/schulfuehrer.html (in German only)

Training Institutes for Early Childhood Education, Training Institutes for Social Pedagogy, Colleges for Teaching Assistant Careers 

Recruitment requirements

The profession of kindergarten teacher is a regulated profession. This means that specific training is required, i.e. training at a BAfEP. Only those who have completed this training are allowed to work as kindergarten teachers. This basic law on recruitment requirements applies throughout Austria. In addition, each federal state sets out further specific provisions for the recruitment framework in state laws. These include regulations on opening hours, for example, or the number of children per group. The basic law on recruitment requirements can be accessed at the following link: https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/GeltendeFassung.wxe?Abfrage=Bundesnormen&Gesetzesnummer=10008227 (in German only).