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How to Become a Director of a Daycare Center: Career Guide

Find out how to become a daycare center director. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in daycare management.

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Do I Want to Be a Daycare Center Director?

A daycare center director oversees the operation of a child daycare facility. Common duties include supervising daycare staff, managing budgets and ensuring that the center is in compliance with state licensing requirements. Daycare center directors often promote a fun learning environment for children. Dealing with challenging employees, children and parents may be somewhat stressful. Directors may find rewards in observing the great strides taken by the children in their charge, however.

Job Requirements

Licensure of daycare centers typically requires having a manager who meets certain requirements. In many states, this includes being at least 21 years of age, holding a high school diploma and having a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or education degree. Some states require up to three years of experience working in a childcare center, although this sometimes can be offset if the manager has an associate or bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field. The following table notes some of the general requirements for pursuing this career:

Common Requirements
Experience Two years of supervisory experience typically required**
Certification Some employers and states require daycare center directors to be certified*
Degree Level Associate or bachelor's degree often preferred*
Degree Field Early childhood education or a similar program*
Key Skills Excellent communication, leadership and people skills*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ** job postings, August 2012.

Step 1: Work at a Licensed Daycare Facility

Gaining experience as a childcare worker can put one on the path to becoming a daycare center director. Childcare workers conduct age-appropriate activities, supervise and become involved in playtime and ensure the safety, health and nutrition of the children. They also might change and feed infants and toddlers and prepare older children for school with activities that improve social skills and learning. Additionally, workers might relay the progress of a child to his or her parents.

Step 2: Become Certified

According to the Council for Professional Recognition, most states require that daycare center directors have the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Qualifications for the CDA include a high school diploma or its equivalent, 120 hours of formal childcare education and a minimum of 480 hours working with children. The formal education requirement can be met through documented training at a daycare center or through a degree program, such as that described below.

Step 3: Earn a Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that some states and/or child care facilities require that directors have an associate or bachelor's degree. Programs in early childhood education are designed to prepare individuals for the care and education of young children, typically from birth to eight years old. Coursework usually covers educational psychology, infant education, child health and teaching methods. Additionally, students might have to complete a practicum. This allows them to demonstrate skills learned in the classroom by working with children under the supervision of an instructor.

Success Tip:

  • Take communication classes. Daycare center directors utilize written and verbal communication when interacting with parents and staff members. Enrolling in communication classes during college can be beneficial to honing these skills.

Step 4: Continue Your Education

Many schools offer continuing education courses for experienced daycare directors. Coursework might cover operations and financial management of a childcare facility, child care manager responsibilities and regulations.

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