Career Guide: How to Become A Childcare Director

Career Guide: How to Become A Childcare Director

child care director license

As many families shift to two-income households, the need for childcare is ever-present. As the childcare industry grows, it is paralleled by job growth and promotion opportunities. 

If you are pursuing a career in childcare to become a director, follow our career guide on how you can transition into this role.

What is a childcare director license or certification?

Although the requirements vary from state to state, childcare director licensing is necessary for running a childcare center. A childcare director license ensures that the provider and their program are held responsible for upholding required regulations within their facility. 

A childcare director license ensures that the program follows proper child-staff ratios, child supervision policies, and health and safety procedures at the center.

While some states allow exemptions in childcare licensing (for example, providers who care for relatives, care for a small number of children, or operate for a few hours a day), it is the norm for most facilities to obtain a license.

What is the role of a childcare director?

A childcare director is responsible for the full operations of running a daycare or childcare center, including managing the facility, setting policies and procedures, budgeting, hiring staff, overseeing curriculum, and maintaining relationships with families.

The duties and responsibilities of a childcare director include:

  • Developing the program and curriculum
  • Overseeing the hiring and training of staff
  • Managing facility operations
  • Creating a budget
  • Meeting with families and teachers
  • Marketing the facility to drive enrollment

Their duties extend beyond their responsibility to the children and include accountability towards the teachers, families, and facility. 

With education, experience, and practiced skills, childcare directors are an irreplaceable component in a child's early education.

Hiring qualified staff is an essential part of running a successful childcare center. Download our free toolkit for templates, checklists, and tips to hire an amazing team of early educators with confidence and ease.

The Childcare Directors Toolkit for Hiring Great Staff

Download our free childcare director's toolkit for hiring great staff!

General career details and requirements

Most states and cities have different requirements for childcare directors. While the experience level may vary, prior experience in early childhood education and development is required. In addition, certification in CPR and first aid is essential. 

As of December 2021, Glassdoor reports the average annual salary of a child care director in the United States at $51,584. While the average director salary heavily depends on location and experience level, the most likely range varies between $41K/year and $65K/year. 

How to become a childcare director


Step 1: Education

A college degree is preferred but not always necessary to become a childcare director. This will depend on the company or whether you’re applying with private or state organizations. 

An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in relevant fields — like early childhood education, education, or child development — is ideal. Because the job of a childcare director is multifaceted, a background in teaching and communications is also beneficial.

Step 2: Experience

To get a job in this role, you need experience in the field. That experience level may differ based on your state and the employer, but it is irreplaceable.

When gaining experience to become a childcare director, focus on the age group you’d like to work with. However, you’ll find it beneficial to have hands-on experience teaching each age group because it provides you with the opportunity to understand a child’s development at every stage.

In addition to teaching experience, childcare directors often need experience in administration and management. As previously stated, the role includes overseeing the teaching staff, managing the facility operations, and marketing the facility for enrollment. 

Experience in business and administrative tasks ensures you’re a well-rounded individual for a career as a childcare director.

Step 3: Professional organizations and certifications

As you build your career towards becoming a childcare director, you must obtain specific credentials and certifications from nationally-recognized organizations. 

There are many professional organizations to look into that will increase your knowledge and experience as a childcare provider. Examples include the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), which offers the Early Learning Program and Early Childhood Higher Education accreditation systems.

List of providers

Professional organizations that offer accreditation and provide certifications toward a career in child care include:

Once you have gained the education, experience, and credentials to become a childcare director, you’ll have all the tools to apply for a license.

Step 4. Childcare director license

When looking to become a childcare director, there is never a specific time when you have to apply for your license. Instead, it depends on whether you have the requirements regulated by your state. 

It is necessary to note that every state is different and oversees different standards within its facilities. Due to varying regulations across the nation, check the licensing requirements in your state to ensure a smooth application process.

Licensing requirements by state

The National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations is a helpful tool that allows you to get the licensing agency contact information and regulations for each state. Use the list below to search the regulation standards in your state.

Your future in childcare

Childcare directors can significantly benefit a child’s early development and are responsible for managing a center’s daily operations, staff, and resources.  

Becoming a childcare director can take years of education and experience. The process of earning this title is as important as the work itself. This guide starts your journey to become a skilled, professional childcare director in your community.

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