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Salary Range: Less than $30,000
Average Hourly: $12.24
Education: High school diploma or equivalent
Number of Jobs: 992,400
Jobs Added to 2029: 84,200
Growth: As fast as average
Go here to see salary and job data specific to the United Kingdom.
What Childcare Workers Do
Childcare workers typically do the following:
- Supervise and monitor the safety of children
- Prepare and organize mealtimes and snacks for children
- Help children keep good hygiene
- Change the diapers of infants and toddlers
- Organize activities or implement a curriculum that allows children to learn about the world and explore their interests
- Develop schedules and routines to ensure that children have enough physical activity, rest, and playtime
- Watch for signs of emotional or developmental problems in children and bring potential problems to the attention of parents or guardians
- Keep records of children’s progress, routines, and interests
Childcare workers read and play with babies and toddlers to introduce basic concepts. For example, they teach them how to share and take turns by playing games with other children.
Childcare workers help preschool-age children prepare for kindergarten. Young children learn from playing, questioning, and experimenting. Childcare workers use play and other instructional techniques to help children’s development. For example, they may use storytelling and rhyming games to teach language and vocabulary. They may help improve children’s social skills by having them work together to build something in a sandbox. Or they may teach about numbers by having children count when building with blocks. They also involve children in creative activities, such as art, dance, and music.
Childcare workers may also watch school-age children before and after school. They often help these children with their homework and may take them to afterschool activities, such as sports practices and club meetings.
During the summer, when children are out of school, childcare workers may watch older children as well as younger ones while the parents are at work.
The following are examples of types of childcare workers:
Childcare center workers work in facilities that include programs offering Head Start and Early Head Start. They often take a team-based approach and may work with preschool teachers and teacher assistants to teach children through a structured curriculum. They prepare daily and long-term schedules of activities to stimulate and educate the children in their care. They also monitor and keep records of the children’s progress.
Family childcare providers run a business out of their own homes to care for children during standard working hours. They need to ensure that their homes and all staff they employ meet the regulations for family childcare providers. They also prepare contracts that set rates of pay, when payment can be expected, and the number of hours children can be in care. Furthermore, they establish policies such as whether sick children can be in their care, who can pick children up, and how behavioral issues will be dealt with. Family childcare providers may market their services to prospective families.
Nannies work in the homes of the families whose children they care for. Most often, they work full time for one family. They may be responsible for driving children to school, appointments, or afterschool activities. Some live in the homes of the families employing them.
|Child day care services||28%|
|Elementary and secondary schools; local||9|
|Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations||8|
Family childcare workers care for children in their own homes. They may convert a portion of their living space into a dedicated space for the children. Nannies usually work in their employers’ homes.
Many states limit the number of children that each staff member is responsible for by regulating the ratio of staff to children. Ratios vary with the age of the children. Childcare workers are responsible for relatively few babies and toddlers. However, workers may be responsible for greater numbers of older children.
Childcare workers’ schedules vary, and part-time work is common.
Childcare centers usually are open year round, with long hours so that parents or guardians can drop off and pick up their children before and after work. Some centers employ full-time and part-time staff with staggered shifts to cover the entire day.
Family childcare providers may work long or irregular hours to fit parents’ work schedules. In some cases, these childcare providers offer evening and overnight care to meet the needs of families. After the children go home, family childcare providers often have more responsibilities, such as shopping for food or supplies, keeping records, and cleaning.
Nannies work either full or part time. Full-time nannies may work more than 40 hours a week to cover parents’ time commuting to and from work.
Employment of childcare workers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 150,300 openings for childcare workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
How to Become a Childcare Worker
Childcare workers’ education requirements vary. Some states require these workers to have a high school diploma or equivalent, but others do not have any education requirements for entry-level positions. Employers often prefer to hire workers who have at least a high school diploma. However, workers with postsecondary education or an early childhood education credential may qualify for higher level positions.
Childcare workers in Head Start and Early Head Start programs must meet specific education and certification requirements, which vary by work setting and job title.
States do not regulate educational requirements for nannies. However, some employers may prefer to hire workers with at least some formal instruction in childhood education or a related field, particularly when they will be hired as full-time nannies.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Many states require childcare centers, including those in private homes, to be licensed. To qualify for licensure, staff often must pass a background check, have a complete record of immunizations, and meet a minimum training requirement. Some states require staff to have certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid.
Some states and employers require childcare workers to have a nationally recognized credential. Most often, states require the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. Obtaining the CDA credential requires coursework, experience in the field, and a period during which the applicant is observed while working with children. The CDA credential must be renewed every 3 years.
Other organizations, such as The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) may also offer optional accreditation.
Many states and employers require providers to complete some training before beginning work. Also, many states require staff in childcare centers to complete a minimum number of training hours annually. Training may include information about topics such as safe sleep practices for infants.
With a couple of years of experience and a bachelor’s degree, childcare workers may advance to become a preschool or childcare center director.
Communication skills. Childcare workers need good speaking skills to provide direction or information effectively and good listening skills to understand parents’ instructions.
Decision-making skills. Good judgment is necessary for childcare workers so they can respond to emergencies or difficult situations.
Interpersonal skills. Childcare workers need to work well with people in order to develop good relationships with parents, children, and colleagues.
Patience. Childcare workers need to be able to respond calmly to overwhelming and difficult situations.
Physical stamina. Working with children can be physically demanding, so childcare workers should have a lot of energy.