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Child Development Career Options and Requirements

Sep 10, 2019

Child development careers require a moderate amount of formal education. Learn about the education, duties, skills requirements, and the overall child development specialist job outlook to determine if this is the career for you.

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Child Development Career List

Child development careers are positions that involve caring for and educating children up to the age of five. Usually these jobs are in daycare centers, early childhood education programs such as pre-schools, or in-home childcare centers. People entering this field typically gain experience as a pre-school teacher's aid or assistant. Some states require the Child Development Associate (CDA) certification, and there are degree options that can be helpful for a career in this field. Child development jobs can range from:

  • Preschool or daycare teacher
  • Assistant teacher
  • In-home childcare manager
  • Preschool director

Child Development Certificate Jobs

In order to obtain a CDA certificate, a candidate must be at least 18 years of age, possess a high school diploma, hold at least 480 hours of working with children over the past five years and have at least 120 clock hours of formal childhood education in the last five years. While this certification may not be necessary for an entry-level position, such as a teacher's aide, it is certainly helpful for advancement opportunities. Other requirements may arise for employment at certain state or federally funded centers or private schools, including an associate's or bachelor's degree in early childhood education, CPR and first aid certification, as well as one or more years of experience working with young children.

Day Care or Pre-School Teacher

Most commonly, child development teachers begin as a pre-school teacher's aide or assistant teacher. This allows the teacher to gain experience in the field, which is necessary for advancement into the position of teacher or lead teacher. Child development teachers can find employment within an early childhood school or Head Start program associated with a public or private school district or with a private day care facility. No matter the place of employment or exact job title, child development teachers are all responsible for teaching children through play, investigation and organized teaching methods. Child development teachers encourage creativity, language development and socialization through an age-specific curriculum.

Manage an In-Home Childcare Center

Many smaller childcare operations are run out of the home of a licensed day care or child development teacher. While the educational content is the same, there are extra responsibilities associated with this career option. For example, each state has licensing requirements that include certain safety standards, child-per-adult limitations and background checks. Legalities may also lead in-home childcare providers to insure themselves in case of an accidental injury. It is important for in-home childcare providers to have a strong reputation for safety and education in order to be successful.

Child Development Degree Jobs

Administrative or management positions at a preschool center most often require that candidates have their CDA as well as a bachelor's degree. At the very least, managers may expect workers to have done postsecondary coursework in early childhood education, where they learn strategies in observing, instructing, and supporting children through their progress.

Preschool Director

Another common career option in the childcare industry is the role of a preschool or childcare center director. These professionals oversee the general operations of the institution, including the supervision of staff, program plans, and budgeting. Other duties may involve communicating with parents on the educational progress of their child, developing professional development opportunities for their staff, and training new staff members. Directors may manage the preschool or center according to the owner's guidelines - or may be the owner of the establishment themselves.

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers are generally expected to have a bachelor's degree before practicing in public schools - sometimes in the specific field of special education. However, majoring in broader areas such as elementary education (or content areas such as math, science, etc.) while completing a minor in special education may also be acceptable. In a preschool or childcare setting, special education teachers assist with children who have learning, emotional, or physical disabilities, developing educational programs according to their needs. Such teachers may instruct students in groups or one-on-one. They provide students support in transitioning from one grade to the next, and from the school environment to life outside of it.

Child Development Specialist Job Outlook and Salary Information

Demand for childcare workers, in general, may increase by 2% between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reports preschool teachers and preschool and childcare center directors should see a 7% growth in employment opportunities over the same period of time. Salaries for child-development professionals can vary greatly based on the area that you choose to work in. Data from the BLS indicates childcare workers earned a median salary of $23,240 in May 2018, while preschool teachers earned $29,780 and preschool and childcare center administrators earned $47,940 in median salary that year.

A career in childhood development could range from working as a teacher for children under five or as a day care teacher, a teacher's assistant, or as an administrator or manager of a daycare center. People working in child development typically work to promote language, social and learning skills in young children. They may enter the field seeking relevant work experience, be certified as a Child Development Associate, or have a degree in childhood development.

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