Early education is critical for setting children up for future success. As the importance of early education gains more attention, the demand for qualified daycare teachers and childcare workers also increases.
If you’re preparing to join this growing industry, you may have already asked yourself: how much do daycare teachers make?
In this guide, you’ll learn about the average childcare worker's salary, including how annual wages differ based on location and experience. We’ll also share tips on advancing your career and increasing your salary as an early childhood educator.
How much do daycare workers and teachers make?
Daycare worker salary ranges between $13,000 - $50,000, with the average total compensation falling between $21,000 - $30,000 per year. The question of daycare workers' salaries is essential because of the role these professionals play in a child’s life.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics cited the median daycare teacher salary to be $30,520/year. The 2021 median pay for teacher assistants was $29,360/year. For childcare workers, their median salary for 2021 was $27,490/year which translates to an hourly rate of $11.65 per hour. This varies based on the childcare center’s work requirements.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects that the employment of daycare workers will experience a two percent growth from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all jobs. Although this growth is limited, about 160,200 job openings for daycare workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.
In several online databases, the average salary reported for “Daycare Teacher” job titles was higher than the average salary reported for “Daycare Worker” job titles, with discrepancies ranging between $1,000 - $5,000 per year.
While these roles are virtually identical in function, the data shows that centers regarding their employees as “teachers” rather than “workers” offer greater compensation. If you’re an aspiring early childhood educator, you may want to consider this when evaluating jobs.
What is the average daycare worker’s salary based on geographic location?
The average salary of a childcare worker differs based on geographic location, ranging from $22,293 in low-cost living regions to $39,375 in high-cost living regions in the United States.
|Region's cost of living||Average yearly pay for daycare workers||Average pay per hour for daycare workers|
|High (based on data from CA and NY)||$39,375||$18.93|
|Medium (based on data from TX, CO, FL)||$25,025||$12.03|
|Low (based on data from TN, IA, KY)||$22,293||$10.72|
Of the top five highest paying cities for daycare workers, two are located in New York state. The typical annual wages in these five cities all top the national average salary of $25,500.
City Average yearly pay for daycare workers Average pay per hour for daycare workers New York, NY $50,297 $24.18 San Jose, CA $41,712 $20.05 Chicago, IL $36,829 $17.71 Brooklyn, NY $35,992 $17.30 Omaha, NE $26,534 $12.76
What is the average daycare worker salary based on experience level?
An entry-level childcare worker's salary can be an average of $19,760, while an experienced daycare worker with more than five years of experience can expect to earn closer to $21,600.
Data also shows that the average compensation for childcare teachers increases with years of experience—up to almost $24,000 with 20 years of experience or more.
|Years of experience||Average yearly pay for daycare workers||Average pay per hour for daycare workers|
|Less than 1 year||$19,760||$9.50|
How much is daycare salary per hour?
Most childcare workers work 40 hours a week, although working part-time is also common. Early childhood educators employed at larger centers typically work normal business hours, from 9 to 5. In contrast, those working at in-home daycares tend to work longer to accommodate more flexible parent work schedules.
Some childcare workers may also work during evenings and weekends, depending on the service hours of their program. Although some childcare teacher jobs are salaried, most early educators earn an hourly wage. The average daycare salary ranges from $10.50 to $14.42 per hour.
What are the most common benefits for daycare workers?
Depending on their employer, childcare teachers may be eligible for benefits packages. The most common benefits for daycare workers include:
Paid time off
Other common benefits include free childcare or tuition assistance, flexible scheduling, and professional development assistance.
What do daycare workers do?
Typically, daycare workers are responsible for teaching and maintaining a safe learning environment for learners. They mostly work for childcare agencies, centers, and individual homes to provide early childhood education and nanny services.
Here’s what daycare workers do (based on role):
Child care center administrators
These are childcare center directors that manage the daycare center programs, budgets, workers, and schedules. They develop, implement, and communicate policies to staff members and discuss learners’ progress with parents.
Administrators also establish the fee for services rendered and ensure the center is properly maintained. If there are additional workers to be hired and trained, the directors take charge to ensure the onboarding process goes well. Childcare center administrators make sure the learning programs conform to the educational standards set by the state.
The qualifications for this role include a bachelor’s degree or higher diploma in early childhood education. However, requirements by state. Other states may require a nationally accredited certification in addition or instead of a degree.
Preschool teachers work with children below the age of 5 years to teach them how to read and write. Other subjects may include art and science to prepare the children for kindergarten.
More often, these teachers target lessons to various aspects of the child’s development, like their motor development or language skills, then track their progress.
The state requirements for a preschool teacher vary. Some states require a high school diploma, while others will ask for a college degree and a certification from the National Child Care Association or the Council of Professional Recognition.
Teacher assistants work under the supervision of teachers to provide additional education attention to preschoolers. For instance, they assist with record keeping, explain concepts to students, and teach learning skills and proper behavior.
Most teacher assistants work part-time. Their requirements can be an associate degree or high school diploma, depending on the state. Most child care institutions provide on-the-job training to upskill the professional staff.
Childcare workers support the professional staff by organizing learning activities, preparing and serving meals to the children, and helping with ensuring proper hygiene.
They also help to teach the little ones routines involving social stimulation, physical activities, rest, and play. Sometimes they monitor the children’s progress.
Requirements and qualifications for daycare workers also vary by state. Some states don’t put much emphasis on the requirements, while others may only need post-secondary certification in early childhood education. Others will just ask for national accreditation from relevant organizations.
What are the typical responsibilities of a daycare worker?
A daycare or childcare worker is responsible for providing a safe, nurturing, and educational environment for the children in their program. Their responsibilities include everything from helping children learn life skills to teaching developmentally appropriate lesson plans. More specifically, daycare workers:
- Lead children in activities that teach new skills and follow state developmental guidelines
- Keep a record of each child’s daily activities
- Communicate proactively with parents and families
- Maintain clean, safe, and orderly childcare facilities
- Provide snacks and meals to children
- Help children with hygiene, such as changing diapers and washing their hands
- Address behavioral issues
How do I increase my salary as a daycare worker?
The various designations for daycare workers mean there’s room for upskilling in specialized fields of work. This, in turn, will attract more childcare workers' salaries based on one’s years of experience, location, qualifications, and other factors.
Here are a few ways you can invest in your professional development, advance your career, and potentially earn a higher average salary as a childcare teacher:
- Advance your education
- Get a CDA accreditation
- Pursue bigger career opportunities
Advance your education
Educational requirements for daycare workers vary by state and childcare program, but most entry-level positions require a high school diploma. A study by Zippia found that 30% of childcare workers have a high school diploma, 20% hold a bachelor’s degree, and 13% have an associate’s degree. Of the daycare workers who pursued higher education, 10% majored in psychology, 9% majored in business and nursing, and 8% majored in early childhood education.
Typically, the more education you have as a childcare teacher, the more opportunities you’ll have for increased pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that daycare workers with bachelor’s degrees and higher will earn more on average than those with associate’s degrees. To learn more about degree programs that could be a great fit for you, check out NAEYC’s Early Childhood Higher Education Directory.
Many schools and training programs also offer continuing education courses that could benefit new and experienced childcare professionals. These courses cover a breadth of ECE subjects, from child development to health and safety. One popular online program that many childcare providers use is the Child Care Education Institute (CCEI), which offers training for directors and daycare staff.
Get a CDA accreditation
Another great way to advance your career in early childhood education is to obtain a Child Development Associate (CDA) accreditation.
Getting an accreditation requires a fair amount of work and time, including passing the CDA exam, undergoing an observation period, and submitting a professional portfolio. However, a study from Zippia shows that 29% of early childhood educators are certified, so having a CDA credential can give you a competitive edge and help you negotiate for higher pay.
A CDA credential can also be a stepping stone for higher degrees in early childhood education. Many degree programs will offer credits to students with CDA credentials, so putting the time and effort into acquiring the credential can certainly pay off in the long run. You can learn more about how to apply for CDA accreditation on the CDA website.
Pursue bigger career opportunities
If you’re an experienced childcare worker, you can explore other career paths that offer more leadership opportunities and higher salaries. For example, some daycare staff advance to higher positions in their field, such as supervising or administrative roles within their programs.
Other childcare workers transition to different but related roles, such as curriculum designers, licensing specialists, and ECE consultants. There are many ways to make a difference in early education, and being a childcare worker lays an excellent foundation for exploring other roles in the ECE field.
If you’re looking to build your resume to become a childcare or preschool director one day, NAEYC offers some great professional development tips that any early childhood educator (ECE) professional can do.
To learn more about the average salary that a daycare director makes, check out our daycare director salary guide.
Annual performance review time is a great opportunity to discuss your professional development. A staff evaluation form highlights your strengths and outlines a clear path for improvement and growth.
While working in a childcare center allows you to interact and be around children, it also lets you boost your career as an educator. Once you attain more skills, you will attract a much higher salary package.
Thank you for your continued effort in making your daycare center a fun, safe, and nurturing place for our children. If you want to improve your teaching staff’s working experience in your program, reach out to us today.
Brightwheel is the complete solution for early education providers, enabling you to streamline your center’s operations and build a stand-out reputation. Brightwheel connects the most critical aspects of running your center—including sign in and out, parent communications, tuition billing, and licensing and compliance—in one easy-to-use tool, along with providing best-in-class customer support and coaching. Brightwheel is trusted by thousands of early education centers and millions of parents. Learn more at mybrightwheel.com.