Childcare workers support children with their physical and emotional needs, foster critical skills development, and ensure a safe and fun learning environment. Childcare workers may work for childcare agencies, daycare centers, preschools, or individual families, depending on their education, skills, and interests.
Typically, childcare workers monitor children's developmental progress, oversee learning activities, and tend to children’s basic needs like preparing meals or changing diapers. Their education requirements depend on the specific organization and state regulations. At a minimum, you should have a high school diploma and CPR certifications.
The experience required also varies depending on the size and location of the childcare center. Large centers may demand prior professional experience or educational certifications, while other childcare centers will consider experience in related fields.
What is the role of a childcare worker?
Childcare workers' roles vary depending on a child’s needs and age. Typically, childcare workers are responsible for maintaining a fun and safe environment for children, monitoring children while in school, and enforcing good behavior. Experienced childcare workers teach children new skills while supporting their educational needs. They must love interacting with children and also be able to think on their feet.
Suppose you’re working with toddlers and infants. In that case, you’ll be responsible for feeding them, playing or reading to them, changing diapers or helping with potty training, and also maintaining clear communication with parents. For preschoolers, you’ll focus on serving healthy snacks and food and supporting their development and growth by creating activities that boost their physical, cognitive, language and social-emotional skills.
Some childcare providers are responsible for managing children’s behavior, preparing teaching materials, maintaining a clean and safe facility, and supervising children in their daily activities.
What are the typical responsibilities of a childcare professional?
The responsibilities of childcare professionals depend on the exact role you’re pursuing. You can work as a childcare center director or administrator, teacher, assistant teacher, or support staff. Here is a typical breakdown of their roles and responsibilities.
Childcare center directors or administrators
Some of the typical responsibilities of childcare center directors include:
Supervising lead staff
Overseeing daily operations and preparing program budgets
Developing and communicating new policies to staff members
Discussing children's progress and collaborating with families
Establishing fee structures
Ensuring daycare centers are well maintained
Hiring and training new staff
Ensuring daycare center programs are in line with the educational standards set by their state
Preschool teachers, also referred to as early childhood educators, typically:
- Educate and take care of children
- Help in building children’s developmental skills and track their progress
- Develop and deliver interactive lesson plans
- Establish and enforce behavior rules in the classroom
- Offer classroom resources and tools
- Adapt teaching materials and approaches to meet children's learning styles and interests
- Manage all classroom activities, including breaks, play, lessons, and meals
- Maintain positive relationships among the children
- Track progress and offer documented reports to families
- Implement lesson plans through collaboration with other staff members
- Adhere to all sanitation guidelines and health procedures
- Facilitate children's activities, including storytelling, games, and songs
- Maintain classroom inventories for supplies and materials
Assistant teachers are supervised by teachers and provide additional educational support to children. Their roles and responsibilities include:
- Assisting lead teachers through lessons
- Interacting with children and preparing relevant learning materials
- Instructing children on classroom behavior and procedures
- Tracking children's developmental progress
- Communicating with families
Roles and responsibilities of support staff include:
- Assisting teachers with lesson preparation and execution
- Implementing classroom routines and rules
- Helping children meet their social, intellectual, emotional, and physical needs based on their development
- Ensuring children's safety by constantly supervising them through sound and sight
- Maintaining classroom materials, equipment, and arranged spaces
- Creating an inviting, pleasant, and tidy atmosphere for children
Is working as a childcare professional for me?
If you have a passion for educating and interacting with children, this field will be full of rewarding experiences. This profession allows you to teach and help children in their early developmental stages. It also gives you the joy of seeing children improve and grow.
The childcare worker profession also offers opportunities to be creative. Part of the responsibilities includes developing classroom activities, crafts, and lesson plans, allowing you to put your creativity to work.
Most daycare centers have standard work schedules with flexible working hours. They follow regular daytime hours, which is important as it will offer you work schedules that are consistent. While some facilities open after and before standard operating hours to support working families, they may have two or three shifts to cover for such times.
What are the education and qualifications to become a childcare worker?
Qualifications vary depending on the exact role you want to pursue. Here are some education requirements necessary to become a childcare worker:
Childcare center directors or administrators
To become a childcare center director or administrator, you’ll need a bachelor’s or associate degree and at least five years of experience. Some employers ask for a recognized credential, for instance, the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential provided by the Council for Professional Recognition. Other centers require directors to be designated as Certified Childcare Professionals (CCP) offered by the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation.
To get the CCP certification, you must be 18 years of age, possess a high school diploma, take early childhood education courses, have experience in the field, and pass other relevant exams. The CCP accreditation is renewed after every two years by the CCP process of maintenance.
For licensing purposes, childcare center directors must pass a background check and meet training requirements with a complete immunization record.
You must also have relevant skills such as leadership, interpersonal, organizational, and written and verbal communication skills.
Teachers’ education requirements vary from one state to another. Typically, you’ll need a degree in education, early childhood education, or a related field and up to three years of experience. You’ll also be required to have completed or passed the state examination and obtained the appropriate certifications.
Assistant teachers assist lead teachers in running the classroom smoothly by doing common classroom tasks such as feeding children, monitoring their behavior, cleaning the classroom, and assisting with lessons. Requirements vary from state to state, but typically, you need a degree in education or a related field and three years of experience. However, most childcare centers offer on-the-job training for assistant teachers.
Support staff childcare workers need a high school diploma and certifications in CPR and first aid. They need experience in working with children and need to be physically fit. While they should be committed to lifelong learning, candidates should have a supportive and warm attitude towards children and readily accept supervision to improve their work performances.
Download our free toolkit for templates, checklists, and tips for hiring an amazing team of early educators.
What’s the average childcare worker's salary?
The average childcare worker’s salary varies depending on geographical location and experience. The average ranges between $13,000 and $50,000, with the average total compensation falling between $21,000 to $30,000 per year.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cited the average childcare worker salary to be $27,490 per year in 2021. An entry-level childcare worker’s salary can be an average of $19,760/year, while an experienced childcare worker with more than five years of experience in the field can earn closer to $21,600/year.
Data also shows that average compensation for childcare workers increases with their years of experience. Professionals with 20 years of experience or more may receive an average of approximately $24,000/year. While some childcare teachers are salaried, most earn an hourly wage ranging from $10.50 to $14.42 per hour.
FAQs about becoming a childcare worker
What is expected of a childcare worker?
Childcare workers are expected to attend to children’s basic needs like feeding them, preparing meals, changing diapers, and supervising playtime and activities. They are also expected to assist with lesson planning, maintain a clean and safe environment and communicate with families.
Why should you work as a childcare worker?
Working as a childcare worker is an incredibly rewarding profession and allows you to see children’s development firsthand as they grow while making a difference in their lives.
How can you become a childcare worker in the US?
To qualify, you need to have a high school diploma, early childhood education certification, and at least six months of experience in a childcare center for children under five years of age.
What are the vital qualities of a childcare worker?
As a childcare worker, you should have a passion for children and education. You should possess solid skills in communication, creativity, planning and instruction, decision-making, organization, analysis, and problem-solving while operating with compassion and empathy.
Childcare workers play an essential role in a child’s development. In addition to caring for their basic needs and ensuring their safety, childcare workers teach crucial developmental skills and prepare children to be engaged, independent learners in the future. Working in this profession allows you to be creative and nurturing as you make a difference in the important, early years of a child’s life.