What Different Careers are Available in Child Care?
Working in the child care industry can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path, but the multiple options within the industry can present a challenge to those attempting to determine the required level of education for their chosen path. The child care industry encompasses a variety of job titles and positions, so a career in child care can create some confusion regarding the required level of education. In order to better understand what level of education will be required in order to successfully embark upon a career in the industry, caregivers should learn more about the position which they’d most like to pursue and how the requirements for education can affect their success.
Pursuing a Career in Child Care: College Degrees
While some positions within the child care industry will not not require education beyond a high school diploma or the equivalent, more advanced positions with higher earning potential are often reserved for those with degrees in a relevant field. For instance, an hourly worker or aide in a daycare center may be able to obtain work with little more than a high school education, CPR certification and first aid training, but an administrator in the same building will need to have a degree in child development, early education or a similarly relevant field. Daycare centers which also offer preschool services will also require preschool teachers within the facility to hold early education degrees to ensure competence and an appropriate knowledge base.
Another important factor for hopeful child care workers to consider is the impact of state regulations upon the education requirements. In some states, licensed child care centers are required to employ workers who hold college degrees relevant to child care in order to maintain licensure and remain compliant with legal guidelines. Laws within the same state may not apply to unlicensed daycare centers or home daycares with a relatively low number of enrolled children.
Daycare directors act in a supervisory and administrative role in most cases, so a business management degree will be of great benefit to those seeking to enter this section of the child care industry. The responsibilities for a director will be less focused on direct care, and based heavily upon their ability to competently and efficiently handle the business aspect of daycare operations. However, state laws may require directors to hold a degree within the child care field in order to remain compliant with state child care hiring guidelines.
Careers in Child Care Which Don’t Require College Degrees
Depending on the state in which a child care worker hopes to work and the size of the facility in question, a college degree may not be a legal requirement. Small centers and home daycares which are not subject to state licensing requirements may also be exempt from governmental oversight, which allows owners and operators more flexibility in hiring.
In most cases, child care workers who have a high school education will only be eligible to work as a teaching assistant, room supervisor or hourly aide within a child care facility. Career advancement and promotion beyond this point will almost certainly require the completion of coursework in early education, childhood development psychology or youth and family human services. Earning a certificate of completion or an associate degree will increase the earning potential of child care workers who are employed in a center-based care setting.
Education requirements for babysitters and private nannies will be much more flexible, based solely upon the demands set forth by employers seeking an in-home childcare provider. There are no federal mandates requiring nannies and babysitters to obtain higher education, nor are they required to be licensed child care providers on a state level in most cases. Some parents will insist upon hiring a full-time nanny who holds a degree relevant to child care, and earning potential rises significantly for those with higher education. Still, the baseline requirements for these child care workers are lower than those set forth on a state level for employees of large daycare centers.
Required Education for All Child Care Workers
While the requirements vary from state to state and from family to family for in-home childcare providers, there are some requirements which should be met by all hopeful child care workers. This includes first aid training and CPR certification, at bare minimum. All child care workers must be equipped to handle an emergency situation, and educated in the correct life-saving measures to protect their charges in the event of an accident or serious injury.
Basic health and safety training, along with child abuse prevention and reporting protocols are imperative for child care workers. For those who work in a daycare setting, these subjects may even be part of pre-employment training and orientation.