Childcare Workers

Career, Salary and Education Information

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a childcare worker with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Childcare Worker Jobs

  • Child Care Workers - Temporary Sitters Unlimited - Plano, TX

    Acceot only the assignments you are available for! tempsitters.apply@gmail.com START IMMEDIATELY IF QUALIFIED: *Must have spotless background

  • Personal Assistant Instructor - SEIU Healthcare - Peoria, IL

    The PAI will also work closely with METC, staff, and leaders to communicate with union members about

  • Childcare Worker - CHAMPIONS CHRISTIAN ACA - Stone Mountain, GA

    Maintain a clean and sterile environment Qualifications • Proven experience in this field is a plus • Excellent verbal communication and

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What Childcare Workers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Childcare workers attend to the basic needs of children, such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and overseeing play. They may help younger children prepare for kindergarten or assist older children with homework.

Duties of Childcare Workers

Childcare workers typically do the following:

  • Supervise and monitor the safety of children
  • Prepare and organize mealtimes and snacks for children
  • Help children keep good hygiene
  • Change the diapers of infants and toddlers
  • Organize activities or implement a curriculum that allows children to learn about the world and explore their interests
  • Develop schedules and routines to ensure that children have enough physical activity, rest, and playtime
  • Watch for signs of emotional or developmental problems in children and bring them to the attention of their parents
  • Keep records of children's progress, routines, and interests

Childcare workers read and play with babies and toddlers to introduce basic concepts, such as manners. For example, they teach them how to share and take turns by playing games with other children.

Childcare workers help preschool-age children prepare for kindergarten. Young children learn from playing, solving problems, questioning, and experimenting. Childcare workers use play and other instructional techniques to help children's development. For example, they use storytelling and rhyming games to teach language and vocabulary. They may help improve children's social skills by having them work together to build something in a sandbox. Childcare workers may teach math by having children count when building with blocks. They also involve the children in creative activities, such as art, dance, and music.

Childcare workers may watch school-age children before and after school. They often help these children with homework and may take them to afterschool activities, such as sports practices and club meetings.

During the summer, when children are out of school, childcare workers may watch older children as well as younger ones for the entire day while the parents are at work.

The following are examples of types of childcare workers:

Childcare center workers work in teams in childcare centers including programs that offer Head Start and Early Head Start. They often work with preschool teachers and teacher assistants to teach children through a structured curriculum. They prepare daily and long-term schedules of activities to stimulate and educate the children in their care. They also monitor and keep records of the children's progress.

Family childcare providers care for children in the providers' own homes during traditional working hours. They need to ensure that their homes and all staff they employ meet the regulations for family childcare providers. They perform tasks related to running their business, such as writing contracts that set rates of pay, when payment can be expected, and the number of hours children can be in care. Furthermore, they establish policies including those regarding whether sick children can be in their care, who can pick children up, and how behavioral issues will be dealt with. Family childcare providers may spend some of their time marketing their services to prospective families.

Nannies work in the homes of the children they care for and the parents that employ them. Most often, they work full time for one family. They may be responsible for driving children to school, appointments, or afterschool activities. Some live in the homes of the families that employ them.

Work Environment for Childcare Workers[About this section] [To Top]

Childcare workers hold about 1.2 million jobs. The largest employers of childcare workers are as follows:

Self-employed workers 29%
Child day care services 25
Private households 18
Elementary and secondary schools; local 8
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 7

Family childcare workers care for children in their own homes. They may convert a portion of their living space into a dedicated space for the children. Nannies usually work in their employers' homes.

Many states limit the number of children that each staff member is responsible for by regulating the ratio of staff to children. The ratios vary with the age of the children. Childcare workers are responsible for a relatively few number of babies and toddlers. However, workers can be responsible for greater numbers of older children.

Childcare Work Schedules

Although most childcare workers work full time, about 2 in 5 work part time.

Childcare workers' schedules vary widely. Childcare centers are open year round, with long hours so that parents can drop off and pick up their children before and after work. Some centers employ full-time and part-time staff with staggered shifts to cover the entire day.

Family childcare providers may work long or unusual hours to fit parents' work schedules. In some cases, these childcare providers may offer evening and overnight care to meet the needs of families. After the children go home, childcare providers often have further responsibilities, such as shopping for food or supplies, doing accounting, keeping records, and cleaning.

Nannies may work either full or part time. Full-time nannies may work more than 40 hours a week to give parents enough time to commute to and from work.

How to Become a Childcare Worker[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Childcare Workers near you!

Education and training requirements vary by setting, state, and employer. They range from no formal education to a certification in early childhood education.

Education for Childcare Workers

Childcare workers must meet education and training requirements, which vary by state. Some states require these workers to have a high school diploma or equivalent, but many states do not have any education requirements for entry-level positions. However, workers with postsecondary education or an early childhood education credential may be qualified for higher level positions.

Employers often prefer to hire workers with at least a high school diploma and, in some cases, postsecondary education in early childhood education.

Workers in Head Start programs must at least be enrolled in a program in which they will earn a postsecondary degree in early childhood education or a child development credential.

States do not regulate educational requirements for nannies. However, some employers may prefer to hire workers with at least some formal instruction in childhood education or a related field, particularly when they will be hired as full-time nannies.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Childcare Workers

Many states require childcare centers, including those in private homes, to be licensed. To qualify for licensure, staff must pass a background check, have a complete record of immunizations, and meet a minimum training requirement. Some states require staff to have certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid.

Some states and employers require childcare workers to have a nationally recognized credential. Most often, states require the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. Obtaining the CDA credential requires coursework, experience in the field, and a period during which the applicant is observed while working with children. The CDA credential is valid for 3 years and requires renewal.

The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) offers a nationally recognized accreditation for family childcare providers. This accreditation requires training and experience in the field, as well as a period during which the applicant is observed while working with children.

Childcare Worker Training

Many states and employers require providers to complete some training before beginning work. Also, many states require staff in childcare centers to complete a minimum number of hours of training annually. Training may include information about basic care of babies, such as how to warm a bottle, and customer-service skills.

Advancement for Childcare Workers

Childcare workers may advance to become a preschool or childcare center director with a couple years of experience and a bachelor's degree.

Important Qualities for Childcare Workers

Communication skills. Childcare workers must be able to talk with parents and colleagues about the progress of the children in their care. They need good speaking skills to provide this information effectively and good listening skills to understand parents' instructions.

Decisionmaking skills. Good judgment is necessary for childcare workers so they can respond to emergencies or difficult situations.

Instructional skills. Childcare workers need to be able to explain things in terms young children can understand.

Interpersonal skills. Childcare workers need to work well with people in order to develop good relationships with parents, children, and colleagues.

Patience. Working with children can be frustrating, so childcare workers need to be able to respond calmly to overwhelming and difficult situations.

Physical stamina. Working with children can be physically taxing, so childcare workers should have a lot of energy.

Childcare Worker Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median hourly wage for childcare workers is $10.18. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.26, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $15.25.

The median hourly wages for childcare workers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local $11.70
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 9.90
Child day care services 9.58

Pay varies with the worker's education and work setting. Those in formal childcare settings and those with more education usually earn higher wages. Pay for self-employed workers is based on the number of hours they work and the number and ages of the children in their care.

Although most childcare workers work full time, about 2 in 5 work part time.

Childcare workers' schedules vary widely. Childcare centers usually are open year round, with long hours so that parents can drop off and pick up their children before and after work. Some centers employ full-time and part-time staff with staggered shifts to cover the entire day.

Family childcare providers may work long or unusual hours in order to fit parents' work schedules. In some cases, these childcare providers may offer evening and overnight care to meet the needs of families. After the children go home, childcare providers often have more responsibilities, such as shopping for food or supplies, doing accounting, keeping records, and cleaning.

Nannies may work either full or part time. Full-time nannies may work more than 40 hours a week to give parents enough time to commute to and from work.

Job Outlook for Childcare Workers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of childcare workers is projected to grow 7 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Parents who work will continue to need the assistance of childcare workers. In addition, the demand for preschools and childcare facilities, and consequently childcare workers, should remain strong because early childhood education is widely recognized as important for a child's intellectual and emotional development.

However, the increasing cost of childcare and the growth in the number of stay-at-home parents may reduce demand for childcare workers.

Job Prospects for Childcare Workers

Overall job opportunities for childcare workers are expected to be favorable. Those with a high school diploma or equivalent should have little trouble finding employment because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. Workers who attain the Child Development Associate credential should have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for Childcare Workers, 2016-26
Occupational Title Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26
Percent Numeric
Childcare workers 1,216,600 1,298,700 7 82,100


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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