Day Care Management Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a day care management degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Day Care Management: Degrees at A Glance

People who work in the day care management industry care for children (typically from birth through age 8) when their parents/guardians are unavailable. Typical job responsibilities include supervising and monitoring the safety of children, assisting with learning objectives, preparing meals/snacks, organizing activities and keeping records. More advanced positions will typically deal with the business of running a day care facility, teaching children and managing employees. Salaries in this field may vary based on education, experience and location.

Child care workers are employed in a variety of settings, including child care centers, homes and schools. Child care workers may work irregular hours, including very early shifts or late evening shifts, to accommodate the schedules of their clients. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), careers in the child care industry are expected to grow by 20% from 2010 to 2020, faster than average compared to other careers. Varying levels of education and experience are required for careers in day care management. Day care management programs may also be called early childhood education, early childhood administration or early childhood management.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? - People who enjoy working with children
- Professionals who are new to the healthcare services industry and/or seeking a career change
- People who want to start their own child care businesses
- Those who want to work in child care management, policy and research positions
- Child care workers who want to become managers
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual salary) - Child care worker ($21,300)*
- Teaching Assistant ($20,200)**
- Nanny/Au pair (18,700)***
- Manager of a child care business administrator ($51,300)*
- Kindergarten teacher ($52,400)*
- Special Education elementary school teacher ($56,500)*
- Social worker ($44,400)*
Time to Completion Typically 2 years (full-time) Typically 4 years (full-time)
Common Graduation Requirements - Complete coursework (approx. 60 credits)
- Complete internship, if applicable
- Complete coursework (approx. 80 credits)
- Complete internship and/or seminar requirements// - Meet GPA requirements, if applicable
Prerequisites - College placement exams
- SAT, ACT or equivalent scores
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Criminal background check
- Medical records confirming negative TB test
All of the associate's requirements plus
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal statement essay
Online Availability Yes Yes

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 mean figures). ** (median salary figures). *** (average salary figures).

Associate's Degrees

Associate's degrees in day care management typically combine practical and theoretical knowledge. Curricula can include instruction on educational and nutrition standards, health and safety procedures, childhood development models and special needs children.

Some, but not all, programs incorporate information on how to start and manage your own day care business. Programs that don't incorporate business information may recommend that students complete a certificate program in management after they finish their associate's degree. Without continuing your education, it may be difficult to earn advancement opportunities.

Pros and Cons


  • If you think you might pursue a higher degree at some point, you may be able to transfer credits from your day care management associate's program to a bachelor's degree program.
  • Entry-level careers have few barriers to entry, and there are opportunities to advance with additional education and training.
  • Careers in the child care industry are expected to see strong growth over the next several years in response to increasing youth populations and the roles of parents in the workforce.


  • Every state has different regulations for child care centers and preschools, which can pose a challenge for workers who move frequently or are unsure where they will settle down.
  • Students with just an associate's degree may find that career options are limited and not as lucrative as jobs that require a bachelor's degree.
  • Work in day care/child care centers may be physically demanding due to long, irregular shifts and the physical aspects of the position, such as kneeling or carrying children.

Common Courses and Requirements

Students can expect an associate's program in day care management to include courses in child growth and development, health and safety, nutrition, psychology, laws and regulations and business management. Programs may be structured to include independent coursework, lectures and lab/research hours. The research component typically requires observing/working in a child care facility or pre-school classroom.

Online Degree Options

Online associate's degrees in day care management exist, but are rare. While the courses are more flexible than traditional programs, the coursework revolves around independent study and will likely not include a lab/research component. You need to make sure any prospective program is accredited and will prepare you for employment.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

To further your employment options, consider becoming certified in infant and toddler first aid and CPR. Also, depending on your career goals, you may benefit from a Child Care Professional (CCP) designation from the National Child Care Association.

Bachelor's Degrees

When evaluating schools, remember that every state has their own laws and regulations regarding child care and that if you move, you may need to take additional steps to meet these requirements. Similar to associate's degrees, bachelor's programs also combine applied and theoretical knowledge. However, bachelor's programs are more focused and time-intensive and generally include internship requirements.

Pros and Cons


  • A bachelor's degree will open the door to a variety of employment options, including management and teaching.
  • Students with bachelor's degrees in day care management typically have higher salaries than their counterparts with associate's degrees.
  • Opportunity to make a difference in children's lives.


  • It is common for schools and employers to perform a background check and require a negative tuberculosis (TB) medical report.
  • You may have a difficult time finding a 100%-online bachelor's degree program.
  • If your dream is to teach child care management courses at the post-secondary level, you will need to pursue a higher degree.

Common Courses and Requirements

Day care management bachelor's programs are similar to associate's programs, but are more detailed and focused. Common courses may include theoretical foundations of child care, applied child care administration, nutrition, curriculum development, infant/toddler care and planning and psychology. Additional requirements may include participation in a seminar and/or internship at a human service agency, elementary/nursery school or day care center.

Online Degree Options

Online bachelor's degrees in day care management are available online; however, they are not widely available at this time. Keep in mind that while many bachelor's programs in day care management are not 100% online, it is fairly common for programs to include some online components. For example, you may be able to complete your coursework online, but you will satisfy an internship experience on- or off-campus.

Stand Out with this Degree

There are several options to consider if you want to stand out with your bachelor's degree in day care management.

  • Specializing in a particular area of study, such as psychology or special education, can help you gain employment in niche markets.
  • Minoring in a related field, such as business or social work, or another language, such as Spanish, can broaden your employment options

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