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Child Development Careers: Salary and Job Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in child development. Read on to learn more about career options, along with salary and job outlook information.

What Is A Child Development Professional?

A child development professional is a professional who is directly involved in the education and development of young children. This may be in a childcare or educational environment. Childcare workers, preschool teachers and elementary school teachers are all child development professionals. These professionals are instrumental in the development of socially appropriate behavior, learning, and gross and fine motor skills in young children. Childcare workers may do this through organized crafts, games and activities, while preschool and elementary school teachers use an age-appropriate curriculum to teach their students and use activities to further develop their students' skills.

Preschool TeacherElementary School TeacherChildcare Worker
Degree RequiredHigh school diploma; college education preferredBachelor's degreeHigh school diploma; college education for advancement
Educational Field of StudyEarly childhood educationElementary educationEarly childhood education
Training RequiredSome states require work experienceStudent teaching requiredState-required training program
Licensure/CertificationLicense and certification often required; CPR certificationState licensure required for public schoolsLicensure, certification, CPR certification required in some states
Job Growth (2018-2028)7%*3%*2%*
Average Salary (2018)$34,410*$62,200*$24,610*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Child Development Careers Can I Find?

Workers in child development careers provide care and education to babies, toddlers, preschool children and secondary school children. These careers include teaching in elementary and secondary schools, kindergarten classrooms and preschools. Alternatively, you could care for children in your home, the home of your employer or a childcare center.

In these careers, you would encourage children to grow intellectually, physically and emotionally through age-appropriate activities and lessons. You can use play to develop language, reading, logic and social skills in language, literacy, social interaction and logic. You would encourage children to socialize and cooperate. If you teach children in elementary school or older, you would prepare lessons, administer tests and maintain a disciplined environment.

What Educational and Certification Requirements Are There?

The educational requirements for workers in child development careers depend on where you work and how old the children are. While some entry-level jobs might only require a high school diploma, some preschool teachers and childcare workers may need to obtain a postsecondary education in child development or early childhood education. In an early childhood education program, you would study child development, nutrition, first aid, child psychology and children's literature. You might also spend time observing children and infants in a laboratory and interacting with them as you implement techniques and concepts from the program. You might need to obtain the Child Development Credential to be a childcare worker in some states.

To become a school teacher, you could major in the subject that you want to teach in conjunction with a teacher education program. Most bachelor's and master's degree programs in teaching include a student-teaching internship. You may also need to pursue a master's degree in some states. To teach in any public elementary, middle or secondary schools, you need to obtain licensure or certification from your state.

Where Might I Work?

In a child development career, you could find a position in a preschool or nursery school, an early childhood special education program or an after-school program. As a childcare worker, you might work in a private household or a center such as Head Start, Children's Home Society or a preschool. You might teach in classrooms in elementary, middle or secondary schools in the public and private sectors, depending on your education and credentials.

What Might I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provided separate salary statistics for teachers at different levels of the school system. For example, elementary school teachers, excluding special education teachers earned an average annual wage of $62,200 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that childcare workers earned a yearly average of $24,610 as of May 2018. That same year, the average annual wage for preschool teachers was $34,410.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Middle and high school teachers perform some tasks that are similar to those of elementary and preschool teachers. They are responsible for developing lesson plans and instructing students with age-appropriate material. Special education teachers also instruct students, but they typically use a modified curriculum that is tailored to the individual needs of their students, based on their special needs. This may mean instructing using sign language in the case of a student who is nonverbal, for example. At minimum, middle, high school and special education teachers need a bachelor's degree to teach. Certification and/or licensure is also needed.