Daycare Teacher: Duties, Outlook and Requirements

Learn how to become a preschool teacher or daycare teacher. Read about the requirements as well as details about schooling, certification, and a preschool teacher job description, to find out if this is the career for you.

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The education requirements, licensure, and job duties of daycare teachers can vary, depending on the type of school or organization they work for. The job outlook and salary for this profession depend on level of education and experience.

Daycare Teacher Job Description

Daycare teachers care for and educate children in childcare facilities. These professionals may be entry-level childcare workers with high school diplomas or preschool teachers with some postsecondary education. Teaching young children requires utilizing play to engage children and motivate them to learn, and these teachers must be creative, patient, and understanding when working with children. State licensure and certification in early childhood education or child care may be required.

Required Education High school diploma for entry-level; associate's or bachelor's degree in early childhood education for some preschool teachers
Other Requirements State licensure and/or certification
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 2% for childcare workers; 7% for preschool teachers
Median Salary (2018)* $23,240 annually for childcare workers; $29,780 for preschool teachers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Daycare Teacher Duties

Daycare teachers incorporate learning opportunities using a child's natural inclination to play. Therefore, these teachers must create and implement activities and lesson plans that simultaneously engage and educate children. In addition to teaching, these daycare workers often must provide diverse basic care needs, including supplying proper nutrition, performing cleaning duties and dealing with behavioral issues. They also are tasked with speaking with parents to discuss a child's educational development. Working at a daycare is both mentally and physically demanding, and aspiring daycare teachers should be prepared for the often rigorous requirements of this position.

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for childcare workers is expected to be slower than average at 2% between 2018 and 2028. Job growth for preschool teachers is projected to be faster than average at 7% during the same period (www.bls.gov). In May 2018, the BLS reported the median annual salary for childcare workers was $23,240. At that same time, preschool teachers with an associate's degree or higher earned a median annual salary of $28,570, according to the BLS.

Requirements to Work at a Daycare

Educational Requirements

A high school degree or equivalent generally is the minimum requirement to become a daycare teacher. While certificate and degree programs in early childhood education are available, they are not required; however, having a degree will help if you are looking toward future advancement within a daycare facility. If your goal is becoming a preschool teacher, you may need to earn a degree and obtain certification.

Professional Certification

While licensing requirements vary by state, the National Child Care Association offers the Child Care Professional (CCP) certification (www.nccanet.org). This certification requires both classroom experience and continuing education courses, and it is available to those who hold a high school diploma or equivalent. The Council for Professional Recognition offers the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, which is part of the licensing regulations for 49 states (www.cdacouncil.org).

Daycare teachers engage and educate children in daycare settings, and need only a high school diploma or equivalent for entry-level positions. Advancement to preschool teacher typically requires a degree, and state licensure or certification may also be required. Demand for daycare teachers is steady, though salaries for these jobs is below average.

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