Child Care Professional
If you love children and are interested in providing them with the best possible learning environments and developmental opportunities, you may want to consider a career as a child care professional. Continue reading to learn more about the academic requirements and possible career opportunities in the field of child care.
Is a Career in Child Care for Me?
Child care professionals primarily monitor children under the age of five. More than just occupying a child's time while parents are working, you'll also create nurturing environments that enhance a child's development and provide opportunities for them to learn and grow socially.
As a child care professional, you can work in different child care settings. You may open a day care in your own home. You can also work for established day care centers, watching children, managing playtime and helping with craft time. With additional experience or training, you may be able to take on more responsibilities. You could work part-time as a teaching assistant, helping public or private school teachers with lessons, grading and classroom management.
A bachelor's or master's degree program in early childhood education can lead to a career as a preschool teacher. Other opportunities involve directing or managing a day care center or a child care department at a hospital or other organization. In some instances, you may be able to pursue a career as a social worker or caseworker. Regardless of your work environment or title, you'll need to be able to fairly but firmly discipline children. You'll also benefit from having patience and being able to communicate well with children and parents.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment demand in the child care services industry would increase at an average to faster than average pace between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that as of May 2012, child care workers made a median salary of $19,510. Teacher assistants made a median salary of $23,640 and preschool teachers earned a median salary of $27,130 during this time period. Meanwhile, directors of child care centers had a median salary of $43,950.
How Can I Find a Job in Professional Child Care?
Training, Licensing and Certification
If you know you want to work with children for a living, you can get started even before you graduate high school by babysitting and working part-time at day care centers or as camp counselors. These roles can provide you with both job references and practical experience working with children. According to the BLS, most states require individuals who provide child care to more than just a few children from their homes or who work in child care centers to have a license. Obtaining a license may require passing a background check and meeting the minimum education requirements, which often includes an associate's degree. Earning voluntary national certifications, such as the Child Development Associate credential or the Child Care Professional credential, can also demonstrate that you're a professional who can care for children and handle any problems.
Depending on where you work, you can become a child care professional without a degree. However, plenty of child care degree programs are available that cover methods for furthering development, encouraging appropriate social behavior and addressing health and safety issues. Through associate's degree programs in professional child care and bachelor's degree programs in child care or early childhood education, you can study children's literature, explore methods for teaching young children and take introductory business courses. You also earn First Aid and CPR certifications and discover how infants, toddlers, young children and teens develop. Some child care classes address issues faced by child care professionals, including teachers and day care center workers, such as how to work with gifted or special-needs students and deal with behavioral problems.
Master's degree programs in early childhood education or child development can train you to arouse a child's curiosity and engage them in learning, while teaching them how to interact well with others. You might explore ways to create learning environments that can bolster children's imaginations and meet their emotional, social and developmental needs. You may also learn how to act as an advocate for children in a professional capacity and help parents understand ways they can help with their developmental needs.