Becoming a Daycare Director: Job Description & Salary Information

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A daycare director earns a mean wage of approximately $52,000 annually. Is this worth the education and training required? Learn the truth about job duties and career outlook, and read postings from real employers to decide if becoming a daycare director is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Daycare Director

As a daycare director, you would ensure the physical and emotional well-being of all children at your facility, make sure staff members are teaching and caring for children according to established guidelines and manage all the financial, operational and regulatory aspects involved. Following is a list of more pros and cons that can help you decide if this occupation is best for you.

Pros of Being a Daycare Director
High earning potential (top 90% earned $87,000 or more as of May 2014)*
Can get this job with only a high school diploma in most states (though many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree)*
Faster than average job growth (17% expected from 2012-2022)*
Satisfaction of working with children*

Cons of Being a Daycare Director
Work environment is often fast-paced*
Job can be demanding and stressful*
Some states require a degree and certification*
Might work long hours (more than 40 hours per week)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

As a daycare or child care center director, you would be responsible for all aspects of the facility's operation. This might include hiring, training and supervising staff; communicating with and resolving conflicts among children, staff and parents; overseeing day-to-day activities; developing budgets and setting fees for services; implementing educational programs and policies; and making sure the facility meets all state requirements.

If you work at a facility that's funded by a state and/or federal government program, such as Head Start, you must also ensure that your facility meets regulations mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services. Some other types of daycare centers include independently owned, national chain or franchise facility.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for daycare directors could grow at a faster-than-average rate of 17% from 2012-2022. Some factors that might contribute to this job growth include an increase in the population of preschool-aged children, the continued need for working parents to find child care and the growing emphasis on early childhood education programs. The BLS also noted that you are likely to have more favorable job opportunities if you have a 2-year or 4-year degree. As of May 2014, daycare directors received an average annual wage of $52,000. Those in the lowest tenth percentile earned about $29,000 or less annually, while those in the highest 90th percentile earned approximately $87,000 or more annually.

What Are the Requirements?

You only need a high school diploma to work as a daycare director in most states, according to the BLS. However, some states require that you have a degree in early childhood education. Additionally, you might need to have Child Development Associate (CDA) certification from the Council for Professional Recognition or the Child Care Professional (CCP) certification from the National Child Care Association (NCCA) in order to gain employment.

According to the BLS, you usually need a high school diploma or equivalent, completion of early childhood development courses and relevant work experience to be eligible for CDA or CCP certification. In addition, if you work in a state that requires your facility to be licensed, you might need to get proper immunizations and pass a background check.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Actual job postings show that most employers require daycare directors to have a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a closely related field. At least two years of related experience was listed as the minimum, though three years of experience was requested more often. Below are some job postings for daycare/child care center director positions that can give you an idea of what real employers were looking for during April-May 2012:

  • A child care center in New Jersey was seeking an applicant with at least five years of experience managing a center with over 100 students and a bachelor's degree in business management, early childhood or elementary education. The director would mentor staff members, ensure the facility met health and safety standards and communicate with parents and guardians regarding child development goals.
  • A Richmond, VA, child care center wanted to hire a candidate to perform daily management and implement policies and procedures. Job requirements included two years of experience in a director role, a 4-year degree in a related field and experience in budgeting, planning and staffing.
  • A Head Start program in South Carolina was looking for a director to oversee a full-year, full-day program in accordance with state regulations and standards. This position required three years of administration or supervision experience and a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related discipline. This employer preferred candidates with a master's degree.
  • A church in Iowa sought a director for its preschool and child care center. This candidate needed a bachelor's degree in early childhood education and at least three years of managerial or supervisory experience in an education environment. He or she also had to meet Iowa's Department of Human Services requirements.

How to Beat Out the Competition

Although an associate's degree could help you best the competition, a bachelor's degree can give you a greater competitive advantage, according to the BLS. Completing a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education could qualify you for a state-level teacher certificate or license. Additionally, you can select an age range concentration, such as birth through five years old or preschool through five years old. To earn your degree, you must complete a mandatory student teaching practicum. During your practicum, you'll be supervised by an experience teacher and observed by a teaching supervisor.

Alternative Careers

School Principal

If you're up for the challenge of working with older students, you can do so as an elementary, middle or high school principal. You would have some similar duties to that of daycare director, such as managing a budget and finances, meeting with parents and supervising teachers and other staff members. Other responsibilities you would have include implementing professional development programs that can help teachers improve their teaching skills, performing classroom observations to measure teachers' effectiveness, making sure your school meets performance standards by evaluating tests scores and ensuring that your facility meets safety standards.

According to the BLS, most schools and states require that you have a master's degree in education administration and be licensed as a school administrator. However, you are not required to be licensed to be a principal at a private school. The BLS also reported that you could earn a median salary of approximately $87,000 in this profession as of May 2011.

Preschool Teacher

If you enjoy working with young children but don't want the responsibility of running a daycare center, consider becoming a preschool teacher. In this position, you would have a more hands-on role in carrying out the program curriculum and interacting with students. Some of your duties would involve helping children develop language and motor skills through various activities, such as word games and storytelling. You would also encourage good social skills among your students by teaching them how to work together in group exercises.

The education required to work in this field depends on the type of facility you work in. Typically, you would need a high school diploma and certification in early childhood education to work at a child care center. You would need at least a 2-year degree in early childhood education or a related discipline to work at a Head Start Program and a similar 4-year degree to work at a public school. As of May 2011, non-special education preschool teachers earned a median wage of around $27,000, while special education preschool teachers earned a median wage of approximately $53,000, according to the BLS.

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Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • MS in Human Services
  • Bachelor: Human Services/Child and Family Welfare
  • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services

Which subject are you interested in?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Arts in Museum Studies
  • Master of Liberal Arts

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Family Dynamics
  • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Childhood and Adolescence Disorders

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Leo University

  • BA: Liberal Studies
  • AA: Liberal Arts

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Human Services

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • M.A. in Human Services - Human Services Counseling
  • M.A. in Human Services - Addictions Counseling
  • Bachelor of Science in Business - HR Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies

What is your highest level of education completed?

Northcentral University

  • PhD in Psychology - Gerontology
  • MS - Child & Adolescent Developmental Psychology (MSPSYCAD)

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Christian University

  • General Studies, A.A.

What is your highest level of education completed?