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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

 Training Institutes for Early Childhood Education/Social Pedagogy

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.

Until the 2021/22 school year, students wishing to work in the special needs/inclusive sector were able to take a three-year course in inclusive early childhood education at the BafEP. This was a part-time course for those in employment; upon completing the course, students qualified as inclusive early childhood educators. As of the 2022/23 academic year, these courses are available as university courses at the university colleges of teacher education.

Students can still take a three-year course in inclusive social pedagogy at the BASOP, which is a part-time course taken alongside work and leads to a qualification as a special needs educator. The prerequisite for attending a course is prior completion of basic social pedagogue training.

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)

Studying early childhood education at university

As of the 2021/22 academic year, a new university course in early childhood education is available at the university colleges of teacher education. This allows people with relevant prior training to enter the profession of early childhood education from another field and to qualify as a group leader in early childhood education.

Under Section 52f (2) of the 2005 Higher Education Act, a prerequisite for admission to the university course is a completed course of training in a relevant professional field. The target group are teachers who have completed a bachelor’s degree in primary education or a teacher training course for special schools as well as people who have completed a bachelor’s degree in educational theory or educational science (180 ECTS). Pursuant to Section 52 (2) (3) of the 2005 Higher Education Act, applicants must demonstrate language proficiency of at least C1 level under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to the Member States No. R (98) 6 of 17 March 1998 concerning modern languages. Completion of a self-evaluation tool before the start of the university course is another admission requirement.

The university course is divided into 12 modules, including a theory- and practice-oriented portfolio. The standard duration of the university course is two semesters, with a maximum duration of six semesters (standard duration plus four semesters). On completion of the university course, graduates are to be issued with a university course certificate which ultimately qualifies them to lead groups.

At the same time, students who complete the course receive a comprehensive qualification corresponding to the course that provides a qualification in early language support (Article 11 (1) (3) of the agreement pursuant to Article 15a of the Federal Constitutional Law (B-VG) on early childhood education for the 2018/19 to 2021/22 kindergarten years).

The university course in early childhood education is offered at the following university colleges of teacher education:

North-east network

South-east network

Central Austria network

Studying inclusive early childhood education at university

As of the 2022/23 academic year, a new university course in inclusive early childhood education is available at the university colleges of teacher education. Building on relevant training in early childhood education, the course provides a professional, academic and practice-oriented qualification as an inclusive early childhood educator and qualifies graduates to work in this profession.

Under Section 52f (2) of the 2005 Higher Education Act, a prerequisite for admission to the university course is a completed course of training in a relevant professional field: the target group are people who have completed an early childhood education course at a Training Institute for Early Childhood Education (BAfEP) or a university course in early childhood education (60 ECTS). Applicants must demonstrate language proficiency of at least C1 level under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to the Member States No. R (98) 6 of 17 March 1998 concerning modern languages.

The university course is divided into 20 modules. Five modules must be completed each semester. The standard duration of the university course is four semesters, with a maximum duration of eight semesters (standard duration plus four semesters). On completion of the university course, graduates are to be issued with a university course certificate which ultimately qualifies them to lead groups.

The university course in inclusive early childhood education is offered at the following university colleges of teacher education:

North-east network

South-east network

Central Austria network

West network

 

Recruitment requirements

The profession of kindergarten teacher is a regulated profession. This means that specific training is required, i.e. either training at a BAfEP or additionally, from 2022 onwards, successful completion of a university course in early childhood education.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 (in German only).