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Child Development Career Options and Requirements

Child Development careers require a moderate amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties, requirements, and employment outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

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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 certification, and there are degree options that can be helpful for a career in this field.

Essential Information

Child Development careers incorporate the caring for and teaching of children from birth to age five. These professionals are responsible for instilling in children a strong foundation in social and emotional skills, as well as language and motor skills. The requirements for this career vary from state to state, but most of the time a high school diploma and a Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate.

Career Title Preschool Teacher
Education Requirements High School Diploma & CDA
Other Requirements Possible state licensure and insurance requirements
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 7%*
Median Salary (2015) $28,570*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options in Child Development

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.

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Child Development Job Requirements

The legal requirements necessary to become a child development professional vary by state. Some states simply require a high school diploma; however, most also require a Child Development Associate (CDA) certification. In order to obtain a CDA, 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.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information for Child Development Careers

Demand for childcare workers, in general, may increase by 5% between 2014 and 2024, 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 $20,320 in May 2014, while preschool teachers earned $28,570 and preschool and childcare center administrators earned $45,670 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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