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Preschool and childcare center directors supervise and lead staffs, oversee daily activities, design curriculums, and prepare budgets. They are responsible for all aspects of their program.
Preschool and childcare center directors typically do the following:
Some preschools and childcare centers are independently owned and operated. In these facilities, directors must follow the instructions and guidelines of the owner. Sometimes, directors own the facilities, so they decide how to operate them.
Other preschools and childcare centers are part of a national chain or franchise. The director of a chain or franchise also must ensure that the facility meets its parent organization’s standards and regulations.
In addition, some preschools and childcare centers, such as Head Start programs, receive state and federal funding. Directors of these schools and centers must ensure that their programs, staff, and facilities meet state and federal guidelines. For example, they must ensure that the staff meets the educational requirements set by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Preschool and childcare center directors held about 64,000 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most preschool and childcare center directors were as follows:
|Child day care services||51%|
|Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations||18|
|Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private||12|
|Individual and family services||4|
Although preschool and childcare center directors work in schools and childcare centers, they spend most of their day in an office. They also visit classrooms to check on students, speak to preschool teachers or childcare workers, and meet with parents.
Many preschool and childcare center directors find working in an early childhood educational environment rewarding, but they also have significant responsibilities. Coordinating and interacting with staff, parents, and children can be fast paced and stimulating, but can be stressful as well.
Preschool and childcare center directors generally work full time. When childcare centers are open, a director must always be on staff, so directors and assistant directors stagger their schedules to ensure that someone is always available.
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A college degree and experience in early childhood education is typically required to become a preschool and childcare center director. Some states or employers require preschool and childcare center directors to have a nationally recognized credential, such as the Child Development Associate (CDA).
Most states require preschool and childcare center directors to have at least an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. These degree programs teach students about child development, provide strategies for teaching young children, and discuss how to observe and document children’s progress. Employers may prefer candidates who have a degree, or at least some postsecondary coursework, in early childhood education.
Most states require preschool and childcare center directors to have experience in early childhood education. The amount of experience required varies by state.
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 preschool and childcare center directors to have a nationally recognized credential. Most often, states require the CDA credential offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. Obtaining the CDA credential requires coursework, experience in the field, and being observed while working with children. The credential is valid for 3 years and requires renewal.
Some states recognize the Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) designation offered by the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation. Some of the requirements for obtaining the CCP are that the candidate must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, have experience in the field, take courses in early childhood education, and pass an exam. The CCP accreditation requires renewal every 2 years through the CCP maintenance process.
Business skills. Preschool and childcare center directors manage childcare centers and need to be able to operate the business effectively.
Communication skills. Preschool and childcare center directors need to inform parents and staff about the progress of the children. They need good writing and speaking skills to convey this information successfully.
Interpersonal skills. Preschool and childcare center directors must be able to develop good relationships with parents, children, and staff.
Leadership skills. Preschool and childcare center directors supervise staff, so they need good leadership skills to inspire staff to work diligently. They also must enforce rules and regulations.
Organizational skills. Directors need to maintain clear records about children and staff. In addition, they must be able to multitask when several people or situations require their attention.
The median annual wage for preschool and childcare center directors was $45,670 in May 2015. 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 $28,890, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $86,870.
In May 2015, the median annual wages for preschool and childcare center directors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private||$67,280|
|Individual and family services||48,590|
|Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations||47,650|
|Child day care services||42,310|
Preschool and childcare center directors generally work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week. When childcare centers are open, a director must always be on staff, so directors and assistant directors stagger their schedules to ensure that someone is always available.
Employment of preschool and childcare center directors is projected to grow 7 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
The number of children who are of preschool age is expected to increase, although their share of the overall population should remain constant. As a result, a greater number of working parents will continue to need help caring for their children.
In addition, a continued focus on the importance of early childhood education—specifically preschool—should increase demand for childcare centers. Early childhood education is widely recognized as important for a child’s intellectual and emotional development.
However, the increasing cost of childcare and the increasing number of stay-at-home parents may reduce demand in the child daycare services industry.
Overall job opportunities for preschool and childcare center directors are expected to be favorable. Workers with formal postsecondary education, such as an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, should have better job prospects than those with only a high school diploma. Those with a bachelor’s degree should have the best prospects.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2014||Projected Employment, 2024||Change, 2014-24|
|Education administrators, preschool and childcare center/program||64,000||68,200||7||4,200|