Childcare workers attend to the basic needs of children, such as dressing, feeding, and overseeing play.
What they do
Childcare workers typically do the following:
- Supervise and monitor the safety of children
- Prepare and organize mealtimes and snacks for children
- Help children keep good hygiene
- Change the diapers of infants and toddlers
- Organize activities or implement a curriculum that allows children to learn about the world and explore their interests
- Develop schedules and routines to ensure that children have enough physical activity, rest, and playtime
- Watch for signs of emotional or developmental problems in children and bring potential problems to the attention of parents or guardians
- Keep records of children’s progress, routines, and interests
Childcare workers read and play with babies and toddlers to introduce basic concepts. For example, they teach them how to share and take turns by playing games with other children.
Childcare workers help preschool-age children prepare for kindergarten. Young children learn from playing, questioning, and experimenting. Childcare workers use play and other instructional techniques to help children’s development. For example, they may use storytelling and rhyming games to teach language and vocabulary. They may help improve children’s social skills by having them work together to build something in a sandbox. Or they may teach about numbers by having children count when building with blocks. They also involve children in creative activities, such as art, dance, and music.
Childcare workers may also watch school-age children before and after school. They often help these children with their homework and may take them to afterschool activities, such as sports practices and club meetings.
During the summer, when children are out of school, childcare workers may watch older children as well as younger ones while the parents are at work.
The following are examples of types of childcare workers:
Childcare center workers work in facilities that include programs offering Head Start and Early Head Start. They often take a team-based approach and may work with preschool teachers and teacher assistants to teach children through a structured curriculum. They prepare daily and long-term schedules of activities to stimulate and educate the children in their care. They also monitor and keep records of the children’s progress.
Family childcare providers run a business out of their own homes to care for children during standard working hours. They need to ensure that their homes and all staff they employ meet the regulations for family childcare providers. They also prepare contracts that set rates of pay, when payment can be expected, and the number of hours children can be in care. Furthermore, they establish policies such as whether sick children can be in their care, who can pick children up, and how behavioral issues will be dealt with. Family childcare providers may market their services to prospective families.
Nannies work in the homes of the families whose children they care for. Most often, they work full time for one family. They may be responsible for driving children to school, appointments, or afterschool activities. Some live in the homes of the families employing them.
Family childcare workers care for children in their own homes. They may convert a portion of their living space into a dedicated space for the children. Nannies usually work in their employers’ homes.
Many states limit the number of children that each staff member is responsible for by regulating the ratio of staff to children. Ratios vary with the age of the children. Childcare workers are responsible for relatively few babies and toddlers. However, workers may be responsible for greater numbers of older children.
How to become a Childcare Worker
Education and training requirements vary by setting, state, and employer. They range from no formal education to a certification in early childhood education.
Childcare workers’ education requirements vary. Some states require these workers to have a high school diploma or equivalent, but others do not have any education requirements for entry-level positions. Employers often prefer to hire workers who have at least a high school diploma. However, workers with postsecondary education or an early childhood education credential may qualify for higher level positions.
Childcare workers in Head Start and Early Head Start programs must meet specific education and certification requirements, which vary by work setting and job title.
States do not regulate educational requirements for nannies. However, some employers may prefer to hire workers with at least some formal instruction in childhood education or a related field, particularly when they will be hired as full-time nannies.
Many states require childcare centers, including those in private homes, to be licensed. To qualify for licensure, staff often must pass a background check, have a complete record of immunizations, and meet a minimum training requirement. Some states require staff to have certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid.
Some states and employers require childcare workers to have a nationally recognized credential. Most often, states require the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. Obtaining the CDA credential requires coursework, experience in the field, and a period during which the applicant is observed while working with children. The CDA credential must be renewed every 3 years.
Other organizations, such as The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) may also offer optional accreditation.
Many states and employers require providers to complete some training before beginning work. Also, many states require staff in childcare centers to complete a minimum number of training hours annually. Training may include information about topics such as safe sleep practices for infants.
The median hourly wage for childcare workers was $11.65 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.65, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $17.21.
Employment of childcare workers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations.
Parents or guardians who work will continue to need the assistance of childcare workers. In addition, the demand for preschools and childcare facilities, and consequently childcare workers, should remain strong because early childhood education is widely recognized as important for a child’s intellectual and emotional development.
Similar Job Titles
Assistant Teacher, Caregiver, Child Care Worker, Child Caregiver, Childcare Provider, Childcare Worker, Daycare Teacher, Daycare Worker, Infant Teacher, Toddler Teacher
Preschool Teacher (except Special Education); Home Health Aides; Physical Therapist Aides; Lifeguards, Ski Patrol, and Other Recreational Protective Service Workers; Personal Care Aides
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO - The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. They are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.
- Association for Early Learning Leaders - The goal of this association is to strengthen the knowledge, skills and abilities of directors, owners, emerging leaders and other early learning professionals to ensure quality programs for young children.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children - This organization is a professional membership organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research.
- National Catholic Educational Association - NCEA works with Catholic educators to support ongoing faith formation and the teaching mission of the Catholic Church. Their membership includes nearly 150,000 educators serving 1.7 million students in Catholic education.
Magazines and Publications
In addition to enjoying being around children, it takes patience, stamina and good communication skills to handle a childcare worker’s responsibilities. Childcare workers care for children as a service to parents and families. Childcare workers’ tasks depend on the age of the child. They provide for basic needs such as feeding, changing diapers, and instituting a regular sleep time for babies and toddlers, and also introduce concepts like sharing and playing games. Childcare workers use storytelling, and hands-on activities to help prepare preschool-age children for kindergarten. School-age children may need help with homework, or rides to activities. Tasks also vary with work setting: Childcare center workers generally work full-time, in teams. They teach structured lessons, prepare activity schedules, and keep records of children’s progress. Family childcare providers work in their own homes to care for children during the parents’ work day. They must follow local regulations, set policies, and market their services. Nannies work full-time for one family, and are in charge of children throughout the day – including preparing meals and coordinating activities. Some nannies live with the family. Babysitters typically work part-time for multiple families, as needed. Education and training requirements vary from no formal education to postsecondary education in early childhood education. Employers often prefer at least a high school education. Many states require childcare centers, including those in homes, to be licensed. Some employers require childcare workers to have a nationally-recognized credential from a childcare association.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org