Research shows that 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 and childcare workers also increases.
If you’re considering pursuing a career in childcare or want more in-depth information about how much daycare workers make, then this article is for you. In this guide, you’ll learn about the average salary range for daycare workers, including how annual wages differ based on location and experience level. We’ll also share tips on advancing your career and increasing your salary as an early childhood educator.
What is the average daycare worker salary?
Daycare worker salaries can range between $13,000 - $50,000, with the average total compensation falling between $21,000 - $30,000 per year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this places the average yearly pay for daycare workers at about $25,500 below the median wage for workers in the United States, which was $51,168 at the end of 2020.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects that employment of daycare workers will grow 2 percent 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, this data shows that centers that regard their employees as “teachers” rather than “workers” may tend to skew towards higher compensation. If you’re an aspiring early childhood educator, you may want to consider this when evaluating jobs.
What is the average daycare worker salary based on geographic location?
The average salary of a childcare worker differs based on geographic location, ranging from $22,293 in low cost of living regions to $39,375 in high cost of 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 5 highest paying cities for daycare workers, 2 are located in New York state. The typical annual wages in these 5 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 daycare worker can expect to earn an average of $19,760, while an experienced daycare worker with more than 5 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 1-4 years $19,860 $9.93 5-9 years $21,600 $10.80 10-19 years $22,120 $11.06 20+ years $23,940 $11.97
How many hours a week do daycare workers work? What is their pay per hour?
Most childcare workers work 40 hours a week, although working part-time is also common. Early childhood educators who are employed at larger centers typically work normal business hours, from 9 to 5, while 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 hourly pay for daycare workers ranges from $10.50 - $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:
- Medical insurance
- Dental insurance
- Paid time off
- Retirement benefits
Other common benefits include free childcare or tuition assistance, flexible scheduling, and professional development assistance.
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. This includes 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 wide range of daycare worker salaries indicates that there’s room for increased pay based on 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.
Educational requirements for daycare workers will vary by state and childcare program, although most entry-level positions will 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 compared to 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 both 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 trainings for both directors and daycare staff.
Get a CDA credential.
Another great way to advance your career in early childhood education is to obtain a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Getting a CDA credential 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.
Acquiring a CDA credential can also serve as 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 a CDA credential 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, such as supervising or administrative roles within their programs. If you’re looking to build up your resume to one day become a childcare or preschool director, NAEYC offers some great professional development tips that any ECE professional can do.
To learn more about the average salary that a daycare director makes, check out our daycare director salary guide!
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 a great foundation for exploring other roles in the ECE field!
Further reading for daycare workers
At brightwheel, we’re committed to providing helpful resources for childcare providers. Check out these additional articles for daycare staff:
Daycare workers play an incredibly important role in supporting child development and shaping healthy future generations. We are grateful for everyone who is making an impact in early education—thank you for all that you do!
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