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Career Guide: How to Become A Childcare Director

Learn more about the requirements to be a childcare director.

Career Guide: How to Become A Childcare Director

Career Guide: How to Become A Childcare Director

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 are the requirements to be a childcare director?

Before opening a daycare or childcare center, it is important to understand the regulations you must follow to obtain a license to operate. The specific requirements and regulations for childcare licensing vary from state to state and by center type (i.e. home-based or center-based program). Each state’s licensing requirements also usually include qualifications or requirements that the childcare center director must meet such as age requirements, education qualifications, or training certifications.

For example, some states require that a childcare center director has a degree in child development, while other states require a director to have a combination of relevant coursework from an accredited college and teaching experience. Obtaining a childcare license ensures that the program follows proper child-staff ratios, child supervision policies, and health and safety procedures at the center. 

Although 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.

What is the average salary of a childcare director?

The average salary of a childcare director differs based on geographic location and things like education level and years of experience.

As of September 2022, Glassdoor reported the average annual salary of a childcare director in the United States at around $50,000. While the average director salary heavily depends on location and experience level, the “most likely range” varies between $41,000/year and $65,000/year. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of preschool and childcare center directors is projected to grow 8 percent from 2021 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations. It is expected that the population group of children under 5 years of age will continue to grow, increasing the demand for childcare with working families continuing to rely on the services childcare centers provide.

How to become a childcare director

 

Education

A college degree is preferred but not always necessary to become a childcare director. This will depend on your state's requirements and whether you're opening your own center or 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.

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 a minimum number of years of teaching experience is usually required.

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.

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 Childhood Higher Education accreditation system and the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential from the Council for Professional Recognition.

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 center license

If you are opening your own childcare center, most states require you to obtain a license prior to opening for business. It is important to note that every state has different requirements and standards for childcare 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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