What Are Some Entry-Level Jobs in Child Development?
Child development professionals support children's emotional, social and psychological growth. If you pursue an entry-level position in this field, you could care for children and encourage their development in a variety of settings.
Child Development Careers
Entry-level child development workers usually fall into two categories: those who watch children and those who assist teachers or other caregivers. Beyond simply keeping children safe, these workers can promote each child's developmental well-being. Education and licensing requirements vary for each of these child development positions, so you'll need to check the specific requirements for your state.
Important Facts About This Occupation
|Median Salary (2018)||$23,240 (for all childcare workers)|
|Entry-level Education||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||7% growth|
|Work Environment||Daycare centers, homes of children, or personal homes|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
As a home visitor, you care for and entertain children while their parents are away. Some home child care visitors stay for a short time, such as a babysitter, while some live with a family, as in the case of an au pair or nanny. Your duties might include preparing meals, putting children to bed and performing light housework. Most of these positions don't require licensing or formal education.
Child Care Center Worker
Child care centers can be independently run or exist within a school, and they are designed to provide educational care for many children at once. While you might not need to obtain licensure as a child care center worker, you may need to receive training, provide proof of experience in the field or undergo a criminal background check. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 25% of all child care workers were employed at child day care centers as of 2016 (www.bls.gov).
Family Child Care Provider
If you'd like to care for several children in your own home, you can become a family child care provider. This setup has conveniences as well as drawbacks; you won't have to travel to work, but you will have to follow safety and cleanliness regulations at your place of residence. The BLS reported that most states require you to be licensed, which means that you might need to receive child development training, undergo a background check and be immunized.
A paraeducator, or teacher's aide, assists licensed educators with tasks that range from supervising lunchtime to helping children complete classroom activities. To become a paraeducator, you'll need at least a high school diploma and on-the-job training; although the BLS noted that postsecondary education could increase your job prospects.
To move beyond entry-level positions in child development, you'll usually need to pursue formal education. Schools offer certificate, associate degree and bachelor's degree programs in child development that can lead to teaching jobs, as well as social work positions. In these programs, you'll explore topics like parent and teacher communication, positive reinforcement techniques, child safety, behavioral management and diversity in the classroom. These programs may also include an internship working with students within a classroom or other setting.
Child Development Associate Credential
The Council for Professional Recognition offers the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, which is sometimes needed to obtain child care positions (www.cdacouncil.org). You generally must meet a number of requirements to acquire the credential, including submitting proof of child care experience and training, completing a period of observation and passing an interview. You might receive a CDA credential in home visitation, family child care or preschool care.