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Child care is a huge industry, with some people working privately for one family, many running their own businesses, and others employed by large organizations. Most child care workers perform the same duties, no matter who the employer is, and are able to do so with only a high school diploma.
Types of Child Care Workers
Child care workers are usually put into three categories: private household workers (which include babysitters and nannies), family child care providers (those who operate child care centers out of their private homes and may or may not have coworkers), and child care workers (those employed by public child care centers). Each of these careers has different requirements.
What Child Care Workers Do
Child care workers, no matter who they are employed by, are generally responsible for the children's basic care, such as feeding and bathing, some teaching, and organizing activities. Those who are predominantly responsible for teaching are usually considered preschool teachers. The employer may dictate whether or not the child care work does more care or more activities. One example is an after-school program, where the child care worker would be keeping the children occupied with activities until their parents can pick them up.
In most circumstances, the only requirement is a high school diploma. Child care experience, which can be as basic as babysitting as a teenager, is helpful when looking for a job. For a family child care provider, who is probably running his or her own business, nothing is required except for a license to operate as a day care center.
Some employers may want to hire people who have completed. (Some form of vocational school (some school districts offer child care courses at a vocational high school.) Others may require a certification from the Child Development Association or the National Child Care Association (this certification is called a Certified Childcare Professional).
When seeking employment with some day care centers, private firms, or publicly funded programs, you may be required to have some postsecondary education. This may include just a few college courses, a two-year degree or certification, or a bachelor's degree. Some supervisory, administrative, or advocacy roles may require a master's degree.
2016 Salary Information for Childcare Workers
Childcare workers earned a median annual salary of $21,170 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, childcare workers earned a 25th percentile salary of $18,680, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $25,490, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,216,600 people were employed in the U.S. as childcare workers.