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Early Childhood Education Jobs: How to Work in ECE | Wonderschool

Child Care Director Resources

4th September 2021

The value of getting children started on the right track has fostered a renewed focus on the importance and benefits of quality early childhood education. As a result, the early childhood education industry has grown relatively steadily for the past several years, creating many opportunities.

According to research, the early childhood education industry was estimated at $245 billion in 2019. The industry is expected to reach over $480 billion by 2026, with an expected compound annual growth rate of over 10% through 2027.

With a firm understanding of the duties and specific requirements needed to get an early childhood education job, you can create a stable career in an industry that is robust and growing every year. If you enjoy children, helping them learn, and get a good start in life, a career in early childhood education may be the perfect option for you.

What is Early Childhood Education?

Early childhood education is a term used to describe any educational program serving children from birth through age eight or before they are old enough to enter kindergarten. This early age is the phase of life where a child’s foundation for cognitive, physical, and emotional development is formed.

The period before a child begins kindergarten is a time of rapid growth and development, and early childhood education plays a vital part in fostering a healthy foundation. Early childhood education enables children to use the skills and knowledge they have learned in a practical setting and allows them to learn and improve their social skills.

What Jobs Can You Get With a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education?

An early childhood education degree can open the door to a number of rewarding career opportunities in teaching and related fields. The expected growth in the number of early childhood education jobs offers qualified individuals diverse career opportunities ranging from education to social work.

Preschool Teacher

Early childhood development poses many unique challenges for children different from those faced by older, school-age children in kindergarten and beyond. As a preschool teacher, you will work with children to learn some of the basic concepts they will use as they continue their education.

Preschool teachers help young children explore and learn about the world around them by developing and planning activities to help them understand colors, shapes, and even letters and numbers. A preschool teacher needs a thorough understanding of child development to enable them to cultivate a creative, safe, secure, and nurturing environment.

Entry-level preschool teachers typically start their career as an assistant teacher or teacher’s aid to gain experience and benefit from the knowledge of an experienced mentor. Preschool teachers work in a variety of positions at care centers, public and private schools, and industry care centers. Because of the variety of opportunities available, the responsibilities of a preschool teacher can vary greatly.

The wide range of opportunities and positions available also means that compensation can vary. For example, the median pay for a preschool teacher in 2020 was $31,930, with the highest earners making over $50,000. In addition, salaries and job opportunities for preschool teachers vary by state and location, ranging from a high school diploma and a certificate to a four-year degree.

Kindergarten Teacher

Kindergarten teachers are responsible for helping young children to integrate into the world. As a kindergarten teacher, you will prepare children for the higher elementary grade levels and some aspects of life outside the educational system. These teachers prepare children by teaching them basic reading skills, art, music, social skills, and personal hygiene.

Kindergarten acts as a bridge between preschool and elementary school. Kindergarten teachers require special knowledge to foster growth during this formative year. For many children, their kindergarten teacher is one of the most critical educators they will have during their school years.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for a kindergarten teacher in 2020 was $60,660 per year. Entry-level kindergarten teachers typically earn around $37,000 to start with experienced, top-level teachers earning as much as $86,000 per year.

Childcare Worker

Childcare workers care for children when parents or family members aren’t able to. Among other things, a childcare worker often takes care of the basic needs of infants, toddlers, and younger children, such as changing diapers and preparing meals. These crucial workers are responsible for maintaining the children’s schedules, such as supervising playtime and ensuring naps are taken.

Childcare workers introduce babies and toddlers to basic concepts by playing with them and reading to them. Additionally, a child care worker teaches young children basic social skills like sharing, taking turns, and playing games with others.

Childcare workers may often be responsible for watching school-age children before or after school. For example, they may help with homework or ensure that the child attends after-school activities. When school is not in session, childcare workers may watch older and younger children for the day while parents are working.

The compensation of a childcare worker can vary greatly depending on the type of work and whether they are working in the private or public sector. In 2020 the median wage for a childcare worker was $25,460 per year or $12.24 per hour.

Nanny or In-Home Child Care Provider

A family employs a nanny or in-home childcare provider through a private contract. The primary difference between the two positions is the location where the services are provided.

A family can employ a nanny in a live-in capacity or a live-out situation. The primary responsibility of a nanny is the overall care of the child or children in a largely unsupervised setting. As a nanny, your duties will focus on any household chores and tasks related to the children, such as doing laundry and preparing meals.

In-home childcare is a childcare situation where you provide childcare on a regular and ongoing basis in your home. Typically, the state and local authorities limit the number of children that can be cared for in a home setting. In-home childcare providers usually require a license from the state and need basic training in first aid and safety, and many have training in early childhood education.

Childcare Center Director

A childcare center director is responsible for the day-to-day operations of a preschool, daycare, or another childcare center. These experienced educators actively work with teachers to improve standards, prepare budgets, and create programs that support the development of the life skills children need to succeed.

Like the heads of other organizations, childcare center directors have many duties and responsibilities. As a childcare center director, you are responsible for the administrative tasks involved with successfully running an organization, including:

  • Record Keeping
  • Ensuring the Facility is Safe and Effective
  • Overseeing the Hiring and Training of New Staff Members
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Building Strong Family Connections
  • Mentoring and Career Growth

The educational requirements for childcare center directors vary among states, but most require a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, while some require a local certificate in child development. Statistics show that the median salary of a childcare center director is $49,160 per year or $23.63 per hour.

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers work with children with a wide range of disabilities and have a variety of responsibilities. Children with special needs require unique, individualized instruction and guidance from specially trained professionals.

While other teachers focus primarily on academics, special education teachers are educators and advocates for students. Special education teachers work with students individually to help them overcome their limitations and achieve their full potential. A special education teacher handles multiple responsibilities, including creating and managing student’s individualized education programs and assessing their progress.

Special education teachers often guide general education teachers to accommodate student needs better. They also work with other paraprofessionals to develop behavior management plans and more. According to the bureau of labor statistics, the median salary for a special education teacher in 2020 was $61,420 per year.

Do You Need a Bachelor’s Degree to Work in ECE?

There are many entry-level positions for childcare workers that require a minimum of education and qualifications, so it is possible to enter the early childhood education industry with a high school diploma.

The requirements to work as a childcare center director, provide in-home childcare, or work as a nanny vary from state to state. While most of these positions require a bachelor’s degree, some areas only require an associate’s degree or certification. However, if you intend to work as a preschool, kindergarten, or special education teacher, nearly every position will require a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field.

While there are many possibilities to get an early childhood education job with minimum qualifications, the lack of a degree will limit your opportunities. The most lucrative career positions in the industry require a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field.

Want to Work in Early Childhood Education? Consider Starting Your Own Child Care Center!

A career in early childhood education offers many rewarding opportunities. Not only will you be entering a thriving industry with a growing need for trained and qualified people, but you will be playing a critical role in cultivating and developing the minds of young children. Individuals involved in early childhood education can impact the lives of countless children.

One of the most lucrative ways to benefit financially from the early childhood education industry is to start your child care center. At Wonderschool, we are experts in every aspect of the early childhood education industry and can help you achieve that goal.

Our team of experts is proud to partner with talented individuals committed to providing high-quality early childhood education opportunities for their communities. Our goal is to help provide you with the components necessary to provide your community with exceptional child care and early learning experiences.

We offer our partners access to our robust suite of marketing, sales, business management, and curriculum planning tools. At Wonderschool, we provide the support needed to start or change your career and build a successful child care program. To learn more about how you can enter the early childhood industry, contact us today.