Certified Child Care Provider Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Child care providers earn a median wage of about $20,000. Is the job worth the training and long work hours required? Learn the truth about job duties and read postings from real employers to decide if this profession is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Certified Child Care Provider

Working as a certified child care provider can allow you to witness children say their first words or take their first steps, but you must also handle the stress of taking care of many children at once. Below is a list of pros and cons that can help you decide if becoming a certified child care provider is right for you.

Pros of Being a Certified Child Care Provider
Good job growth (14% projected from 2012-2022)*
Can be fun performing play activities with children*
Can get a job with a high school diploma*
Option to work in formal centers or your private home*

Cons of Being a Certified Child Care Provider
May work long or unusual hours*
May need immunizations*
May deal with disruptive or rude children*
Wages are usually on the low end (median salary of $19,730 as of May 2014)*
Home-based positions may require other duties (driving to appointments or attending after-school activities)*

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

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Roles

As a child care provider, you usually can work at a child care center or at a family's home. In a home setting, you may work only during hours when parents are away as a babysitter, or you may work full time as a live-in nanny. Your duties in a client's home may involve going grocery shopping, preparing meals, helping with homework, monitoring younger children during baths, taking children to appointments and performing household chores.

At a privately-owned or public child care center, such as those operating under the Early Head Start and Head Start programs, you might assist teachers with curriculum for preschool-aged children. You can help children learn language and social skills through play sessions that may involve activities, such as art, dance and storytelling. You would also be responsible for making sure children get a balance of learning, playing and napping. You may need to monitor their development to update parents on their progress. You may also care for infants and toddlers by changing their diapers, cleaning and feeding them.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), child care providers in the tenth percentile of wage earners made about $16,500 or less per year, while those in the 90th percentile earned over $30,000 as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). During this time, psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals paid child care providers an average of about $37,000 annually, which was the highest mean salary earned among all industries that provided child care.

The BLS also noted that employment for this profession was expected to increase at a rate of 14% from 2012-2022, which is about as fast as average compared to other occupations. Some factors that have contributed to this increase include the growing demand for child care providers to assist teachers in promoting healthy childhood development and the continued need for providers to take care of children while parents are at work.

Career Requirements

Education

Although many states don't have specific education requirements for child care providers, most employers expect these workers to have a high school diploma at minimum, according to the BLS. In addition, you can be a more favorable candidate if you have formal postsecondary training or college credits in a related discipline. If you plan on working for a Head Start program, you'll need a child development credential or an associate's degree in early childhood education after 2013.

Certification Requirements

Although some employers and states require candidates to be certified, this requirement may not be widespread. The most common certifications for this occupation are the Child Development Associate (CDA) designation offered by the Council for Professional Recognition and the Child Care Professional (CCP) credential offered by the National Child Care Association.

Some of the requirements for the CDA designation include possession of a high school diploma or its equivalent, completion of at least 120 hours of formal early childhood education training, accumulation of 480 hours of professional work experience and participation in formal observation at a child care facility under the supervision of a CDA advisor. You might specialize your credential in preschool, infancy or family child care. The NCCA offers membership to individuals under various states, so each state may have specific requirements. Typically, you need to complete a high school education, take continuing education courses and gain formal work experience to be eligible for the CCP credential, according to the BLS.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Job postings show that a high school diploma is the minimum education required by most employers. Most postings also show that 1-3 years of experience working with children in a formal setting is preferred. Here is a list of real job postings for child care positions that can help you understand what employers were looking for in April 2012.

  • A Forth Worth, TX, child care center seeks a child care provider with at least two years of experience in the field, CDA certification and a health card. This candidate must design and implement curriculum for infants and toddlers based on the Head Start program, maintain child assessment records and supervise teacher assistants and volunteers.
  • A home care services company in North Carolina is looking for a babysitter to work under the supervision of a registered nurse. This position requires a high school diploma or its equivalent, three years of experience working with children, three references from non-relatives and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification.
  • A nanny services agency in Iowa is looking to hire nannies for part- and full-time positions. Candidates must meet at least one of these requirements: one year of experience as a nanny, one year of experience in a daycare setting or a degree in a child development discipline.
  • A children's services company in Tucson, AZ, is seeking a part-time child care worker for a group home. This candidate must be at least 21 years of age, have a high school education and earn one year of related experience.

How Can I Stand Out?

Since some employers request early childhood education training, you can set yourself apart as a child care provider by earning a degree in the subject. An Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education program can equip you with the education necessary to employ a variety of instructional techniques and ensure the safety of the children you care for. If you plan on immediately transferring to a bachelor's degree program, you may earn an Associate of Arts instead.

To advance beyond a child care provider, you can complete a bachelor's degree program in early childhood education. Completion of this degree program is especially important if you plan on pursuing a career teaching young children or directing a child care center. Your coursework may cover topics, such as birth and parenthood, classroom management, language and literacy, family relationships, health and wellness. As part of your undergraduate program, you're usually required to complete a student teaching practicum. Your practicum may be full time and can last several weeks. During this time, you can work under the supervision and mentorship of an experienced teacher.

Alternative Career Paths

Preschool Teacher

If you have an interest or a passion for teaching young children, working as a preschool teacher can be a step up from a child care provider. You would help children between the ages of three and five to understand basic math, reading and comprehension skills to prepare them for further education. You can also help children develop motor and social skills primarily through play activities, such as storytelling, counting with building blocks or interacting through games.

According to the BLS, you usually need a high school diploma or certification for positions at child care centers. For positions at Head Start programs, an associate's degree is required, but a bachelor's degree will be necessary for many of the same positions after 2013. In addition, you need a license to teach at a public school in all U.S. states. As of May 2011, the median salary for preschool teachers was almost $27,000, according to the BLS.

Child and Family Social Worker

If you want a job that focuses more on protecting children and helping families in need of support, you might consider becoming a child and family social worker. In this position, some of your responsibilities would involve responding to cases involving child abuse or neglect, assisting families in need of child care services, coordinating adoption or foster care services and providing mental health counseling to children and their families.

You generally need a bachelor's degree in social work to apply for most positions, according to the BLS. However, you might need a master's degree in social work and licensure from your state for a clinical position in this field. This occupation was expected to experience faster-than-average growth of 20% from 2010-2020. Also, the median salary for this profession was approximately $41,000 as of May 2011.

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Colorado State University Global

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University of the Rockies

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Penn Foster Career School

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Southern New Hampshire University

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American InterContinental University

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Colorado Technical University

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Penn Foster High School

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