Working with small children can be one of the most rewarding experiences, but the choice to become a child care worker should not be made lightly. Sure, the rewards are plentiful; days filled with playing with young children, helping them learn and discover new things. Still, as with any profession, there are challenges to consider when choosing to commit yourself to caring for children.
According the 2010-11 Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, child care workers should have no problem finding and keeping a job. While the increase in number of jobs is relatively low at a projected 11 percent over a ten-year period from 2008 to 2018, the bureau notes that the rate of people leaving the profession provide consistent openings for new workers. In addition, the relatively new emphasis on early childhood education will likely lead to an increased need for child care workers.
Being a Positive Role Model
Children look up to those who provide their care on a daily basis. With the amount of time children spend in child care, a child care worker has the opportunity to impact children for the rest their lives and teach them positive lessons in sharing, playing with others and picking up after themselves. Along with valuable life lessons, a child care worker becomes a part of a child's life.
Days of Creativity, Play and Learning
Working in a child care setting allows you to explore your creativity as you come up with activities that engage young children in learning, creating and playing. Days are filled with reading, drawing, painting and games. Essentially, your job requires you to play with young children, and play is an important part of a child's development.
Children Require Constant Attention
It takes a lot of energy to keep up with children, and it takes a lot of energy keeping your eye on them all day. Children, however, do require your full-time attention. In a child care center, it may be easier to take a break here and there, as there are more workers on staff. With in-home child care that becomes much more difficult. There is no one to cover for you while you take a break.
Child care starts early in the morning in order to accommodate parents whose work days typically start as early at 7 a.m. At the same time, most child care providers keep children until as late as 6 p.m. to give parents drive time after the workday ends at 5 p.m. In a child care center there may be shifts or part-time opportunities, but in-home care givers are watching children all day.
Wages for Child Care Workers
The median pay for a child care worker in a center was just over $9 an hour in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For a child care worker working full-time, that comes to approximately $18,000 a year. The amount of pay for those doing in-home child care is more difficult to track, but you do have the ability to set your own rates.