Child Development Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career in child development? Get real job descriptions and education requirements to see if a career in child development is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Child Development

Careers in child development include the fields of caregiving, educational and administrative jobs. Three common careers that you could seek in this field are child care center worker, preschool teacher and child care center or preschool director. Here's information about each of these careers:

Child care center worker Preschool teacher Child care center or preschool director
Career Overview Child care center workers take care of and often educate young children in a daycare environment. Preschool teachers typically educate kids from 3-5 years old in order to prepare them for kindergarten. Child care center or preschool directors are in charge of managing education facilities for young learners.
Education Requirements High school diploma, GED or some postsecondary education Associate's degree or bachelor's degree are often required Some states require an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree
Program Length Roughly two years for an associate's degree 3-5 years for a bachelor's degree 3-5 years for a bachelor's degree
Certification and Licensing National certification required by many states and employers National certification is often required; public school teachers need a license National certification is often required; state license could be required
Job Outlook for 2012-2022 184,100 additional jobs expected (14% increase)* 76,400 additional jobs expected (17% increase) * 10,900 additional jobs expected (17% increase)*
Mean Salary (2014) Roughly $22,000* Roughly $32,000* Roughly $52,000*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Child Care Center Worker

Child care center workers are responsible for a number of tasks in daycare centers and schools for young children. In certain cases, you'll only be responsible for taking care of and ensuring the well being of kids when parents or guardians aren't present. In others, you'll help teachers with education and development. You might also record a child's progress or prepare activities for children. It's commonplace that you will be employed in a part-time or full-time work setting.

Requirements

Requirements vary widely for child care worker positions. For some positions, a GED or high school diploma is all that's required. For others, you may need to earn an associate's degree, certificate or even a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related discipline. In associate's degree programs in early childhood education, you can learn about communication skills, children's nutritional needs and child guidance.

Experience in the field is often requested by employers, and national certification in child care may be required by some states. The National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA) organization offers the Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) credential that you can earn. In addition to this, the Council for Professional Recognition offers a path to earn a Child Development Associate (CDA) certification.

In October 2012, employers listed the following job openings and requirements:

  • A Brooklyn, NY, family center was seeking a child care worker for an afternoon position. The worker would supervise children, observe interactions and assist children with homework or skill-building activities. A high school diploma and one year of experience were required.
  • A childcare center in the Seattle area was looking for a candidate with a bachelor's degree, two years of experience and CPR certification to run a classroom under a supervisor's direction.
  • An associate's degree or CDA certification were the minimum requirements for a job working with toddlers at a daycare center in New York. The center was seeking applicants with experience working with young children.

Standing Out

Because many employers seeking child care workers look for applicants with experience, you might want to find ways to get hands-on training working with children before applying for full-time jobs. For example, many child care centers have positions for volunteers or student interns. Additional opportunities to gain experience working with children include volunteering at children's library programs or helping out at after-school programs.

Preschool Teacher

Preschool teachers typically help children between the ages of three and five prepare for kindergarten. A lead teacher runs the classroom and usually sets the curriculum. Basic reading, writing, science and math are often covered. As a preschool teacher, you could potentially work in a wide variety of settings, from schools to libraries to daycare facilities.

Requirements

As is the case for child care center workers, varying amounts of education and experience are required for different preschool teaching jobs. Usually, employers will request that you have an associate's or bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field in addition to varying amounts of work experience. Bachelor's degree programs in early childhood education often include fieldwork or student teaching requirements to prepare you for entry into the field.

National certification, such as the CCP or the CDA credentials, could also be required. If you plan to work in a public school, you'll probably also need to earn a teaching license from the state in which you'll be working. According to the BLS, to acquire a teaching license, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree and take an exam.

These are a few job listings posted by preschools in October 2012:

  • A bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field along with a Child Development Permit from the state was required for a California-area lead preschool teacher position.
  • Candidates with bachelor's degrees who could speak both English and Spanish were sought by a preschool in North Carolina. In some instances, candidates with associate's degrees would be considered.
  • An early childhood associate's or bachelor's degree, along with first aid and CPR training, were required to teach preschool at a large corporation's child development center in Wisconsin.

Standing Out

Knowledge of a second language can be a solid way to stand out from other preschool teachers. In fact, some employers look for applicants who are fluent in Spanish. To prepare for this career while in school, you can seek out Spanish courses. You can also find Spanish language courses offered for working adults through colleges' extension offices or continuing education programs.

Child Care Center or Preschool Director

Child care center and preschool directors are typically in charge of hiring staff, developing a curriculum, setting budgets and monitoring staff relations with parents. Recruiting students, maintaining databases and setting disciplinary standards are also typically part of the job. Your job duties will often differ depending on the type of preschool or child care facility you are in charge of. For example, directing a federally funded preschool program will often require meeting government guidelines that aren't a part of overseeing a private national chain or independent program.

Requirements

Typically, a bachelor's degree is required for the job, although sometimes an associate's degree is accepted. In bachelor's degree programs, you can learn about lifespan development, motor development, multicultural education and teaching methods. Most employers ask that you have classroom experience, and you may need to acquire national certification. Some states also require programs and staff to be licensed, according to the BLS.

The following are a few examples of what employers were seeking in October 2012:

  • A preschool in CA was looking for a director for a full-time position. Applicants needed to have bachelor's degrees in adherence with California state requirements and extensive experience.
  • Five years of teaching experience combined with an early childhood bachelor's degree were required along with state certification for a preschool director position in Massachusetts. The position also required CPR and first aid certification.
  • A daycare education director with at least an associate's degree and 2-5 years of non-managerial experience was sought by a center in Brooklyn, NY.

Standing Out

Staying abreast of classroom technology developments can help you stand out as a preschool or daycare director in the job market. Computer skills are not only useful, but can be mandatory for certain jobs. Knowledge of software, such as Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint, is often a skill valued by employers in this field.

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