Child care management certificate programs are designed to prepare students to care for children in environments like day cares and after-school programs and focus on subjects like recognizing child abuse and special needs children. In contrast, doctoral programs in early childhood education prepare students for advanced research and educational positions, and they offer specialization options in subjects like curriculum development or literacy. Some child care management positions require candidates to attain licensure, depending on the state they work.
Individuals applying to a child care management certificate program need to have a high school diploma or GED. A criminal background check and math and English placement tests are also requirements. Certificate candidates who fail to achieve a minimum score are required to take supplemental coursework before enrolling in the core child care management courses.
Most doctoral degree programs in early childhood education require candidates to have successfully completed a master's degree program from an accredited institution. Some programs require applicants to have their master's degree in childhood education or a related field, while other programs accept applicants with a master's degree in any field. Additional requirements include graduate test scores and letters of recommendation. Also, a large number of programs expect applicants to have significant experience working with children in an official capacity.
Certificate in Child Care Management
As an academic field of study, child care management refers to the education and training of employees at day care or child care facilities. These 1-year or less programs equip certificate candidates with the skills and knowledge needed to create a productive and nurturing learning environment for children up to five years old. A smaller number of programs are available for those providing before- or after-school care in the K-12 grade range. The curriculum is designed to provide the educational tools relevant to fostering a child's intellectual and emotional development. Courses include:
- Special needs children
- Day care administration
- Recognizing child abuse
- Infant health and nutrition
- Art for children
Doctoral Degree in Early Childhood Education
Doctoral degrees in early childhood education are offered in both the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree formats. These programs are designed to train individuals for senior research and teaching positions, working on improving the pedagogy behind childhood education. The degree candidate chooses a focus or concentration for their program, such as curriculum development or literacy and special needs children. This concentration impacts what classes need to be taken, which faculty members will serve as advisers and what research project will constitute the doctoral dissertation. These programs are completed in four years for full-time students.
The nature of coursework depends largely on the academic focus of the program, chosen by the student in conjunction with his or her academic advisers. Degree candidates also receive credits for time spent working on their dissertation. Core courses include:
- Historical analysis of early childhood education
- Literacy development in childhood education
- Advanced research methodologies
- Families and children's schooling
- Social and cultural components of learning
Popular Career Options
Because of the high degree of specialization involved with these doctoral degree programs, many graduates seek employment opportunities in academia, as professors, or in the research sector, as senior educational researchers. Some other possible job titles are listed below.
- Curriculum specialist
- Educational consultant
- Senior administrator
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for preschool and childcare center directors are expected to be moderate, with a 7% increase in jobs predicted during the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). The BLS lists the mean salary for preschool and childcare center education administrators at $52,760, while the mean salary for child care workers was $22,310 per year, as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Licensing requirements for child care professionals vary between states, with most states requiring individuals to be licensed if they are providing care for more than five children. This licensing process generally involves graduating from an accredited child care management program, as well as enrolling in a number of continuing education credits per year. The Council for Professional Recognition is a non-profit organization, which offers a Child Development Associate National Credentialing Program. This credentialing program, while not required by most states, may help increase employment opportunities (www.cdacouncil.org).
Individuals looking to begin a career in child care management can do so with a certificate and, if required, licensure. A PhD in early childhood education, however, is best for those looking to serve in administration or some type of specialist position.