Preschool and childcare center directors supervise and lead their staffs, design program plans, oversee daily activities, and prepare budgets.
What they do
Preschool and childcare center directors are responsible for all aspects of their center’s program. They typically do the following:
- Supervise preschool teachers and childcare workers
- Hire and train new staff members
- Provide professional development opportunities for staff
- Establish policies and communicate them to staff and parents
- Develop educational programs and standards
- Maintain instructional excellence
- Assist staff in communicating with parents and children
- Meet with parents and staff to discuss students’ progress
- Prepare budgets and allocate program funds
- Ensure that facilities are maintained and cleaned according to state regulations
Some preschools and childcare centers are independently owned and operated. In these facilities, directors must follow the instructions and guidelines of the owner. Sometimes, the directors are the owners, so they decide how to operate them.
Other preschools and childcare centers are part of a national chain or franchise. The director of a chain or franchise must ensure that the facility meets the parent organization’s standards and regulations.
In addition, some preschools and childcare centers, such as Head Start programs, receive state and federal funding. Directors need to follow the requirements set by Department of Health and Human Services for program, staff, and facilities.
Although preschool and childcare center directors work in schools and childcare centers, they spend most of their day in an office. They also visit classrooms to check on students, speak to preschool teachers or childcare workers, and meet with parents.
How to become a Preschool and Childcare Center Director
A bachelor’s degree and experience in early childhood education are typically required to become a preschool and childcare center director. However, educational requirements vary. Additionally, some employers require these directors to have a nationally recognized credential, such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.
Most states require preschool and childcare center directors to have at least a bachelor’s degree, but educational requirements vary by state. Employers may prefer candidates who have a degree, or at least some postsecondary coursework, in early childhood education. These programs teach child development, provide strategies for instructing young children, and show how to observe and document children’s progress.
Most positions for preschool and childcare center directors require several years of experience in early childhood education. The length of experience required varies by job.
States may require childcare centers, including those in private homes, to be licensed. To qualify for licensure, staff must pass a background check and meet a minimum training requirement. Some states have more requirements, such as requiring staff to have certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid.
Some employers have additional requirements, such as the CDA credential offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. Candidates need to pay a fee, take coursework, obtain experience in the field, and be observed while working with children. This credential needs to be renewed every 3 years.
The median annual wage for preschool and childcare center directors was $48,210 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 $30,850, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $82,590.
Employment of preschool and childcare center directors is projected to grow 1 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations.
Similar Job Titles
Administrator, Early Head Start Director, Education Coordinator, Education Director, Education Site Manager, Preschool Director, Preschool Program Director, Principal, Site Coordinator, Early Head Start Teacher
Human Resources Manager, Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor, Director-Religious Activities and Education, Recreation Worker, Patient Representative
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 Montessori Society
- Association for Childhood Education International
- Association for Early Learning Leaders
- Association of Christian Schools International
- Council for Exceptional Children
- National AfterSchool Association
- National Association for the Education of Young Children
- National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators
- National Association of Social Workers
Magazines and Publications
It takes a village to raise a child, as the saying goes. In childcare centers, education administrators are the “villagers” who oversee children’s daily activities, design programs for learning and fun, and supervise staff and budgets. This career is all about inspiring children’s love for learning. While some administrators work directly with children, most focus on developing curriculum and activities and managing the preschool or daycare facility. Education administrators visit classrooms regularly. They ensure that equipment and spaces are clean and that children are engaged. Hiring, training, and supervising staff are other important parts of the job. Parent communication is also key; administrators meet with parents to discuss their children’s needs and progress, and to work together on solving any behavior or learning issues. Administrators develop budgets and allocate program funds, review relevant state regulations, and establish policies to meet them. To ensure safety at their center, directors and assistants often share the responsibility of being available during all open hours. Many education administrators for preschool and childcare programs have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and related work experience. Some states require related certifications. Background checks are generally required.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org