How Can I Become a Child Care Director?

Explore a career as a child care director. Read about education, training and certification requirements, salary and potential job growth to see if this is the right career choice for you. Schools offering Child Care Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Child Care Director?

Child care directors manage schools or centers that care for young children and typically help prepare them for entry into kindergarten. Directors oversee staff, scheduling, facility maintenance and operations, budgets and the day-to-day activities of the center. They develop policies, procedures, educational programs and standards and make sure that they are implemented by the other staff members. Child care directors also meet with parents to communicate these standards and procedures, as well as to update them about their children's progress. In addition to hiring new staff members, they must train their staff and lead them in professional development activities.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about this career.

Education Required High school diploma at minimum; associate's or bachelor's degree required for most positions
Education Field of Study Early Childhood Education
Licensure Child Development Associate certification required for most jobs; certification in First Aid and CPR required for some jobs
Key Skills Business and budgeting, leadership, organizational and record keeping skills
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% (for all preschool and childcare center directors)
Average Salary (2015)* $52,760 (for all preschool and childcare center directors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Schooling Do I Need to Become a Child Care Director?

Child care providers need varying amounts of schooling depending on their responsibilities and the state in which they practice. If you choose to work as a self-employed child care director, usually little to no schooling is required. However, if you find a position at a child care center, some educational requirements may be necessary.

Requirements for child care providers vary from state to state, but some require you to be 21 years of age, have a high school diploma or its equivalent, have a criminal background check done and have legal state or national residency/citizenship status. As you work your way up from an entry-level position to a child care director, your state will most likely require one or more of the following: an associate's degree in early childhood education, a bachelor's degree specializing in elementary education or 60 credit hours towards such a degree, 4,000 hours experience in a licensed child care program, at least nine hours of continuing education annually, a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or a Montessori Director certificate achieved from the American or International Montessori Institute. Frequently, your state will have online, weekend and night classes that will allow you to meet these education requirements as you work.

How Do I Advance in the Field?

Earning additional certifications, after completing the required schooling certification in your state, are a good way to advance. If your state doesn't require you to complete fire prevention, poison, child abuse prevention and first aid training programs, you should consider taking them to enhance your employment opportunities. Further accolades, like affiliation with the Head Start program, positive parent recommendations and even a master's degree in early childhood education or business management, will all help you into a top position as a child care director at a reputable care facility or school.

What Daily Activities Will I Be Engaged In?

A director's duties are often a step removed from those of a normal child care professional. You could be overseeing and directing student play and progress, educational and health standards, employee training and recruitment, or care facility fund management. You probably will have some time devoted to caring to children, so don't forget how to teach children the same determination, self-control and teamwork skills that you exhibit yourself.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in working with children but you don't want to oversee an entire care center, there are several other similar career options you could pursue. Child care workers need a high school diploma or equivalent to care for children in child care centers. They bathe and feed the children in their care, and they may teach some children in preparation for kindergarten. Teaching is another option that can be done at various levels, including preschool, elementary, middle school and high school. Teachers focus on educating children in basic subjects, such as math and English, and preparing them for the next level of schooling or college. Preschool teachers typically only require an associate's degree, while upper-level teachers need to possess a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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