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Day Care Worker Job Description, Career as a Day Care Worker, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training High school and on-the-job training

Salary Average—$9.76 per hour

Employment Outlook Very good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Workers in day care centers help preschool children in their educational and personal growth. Under a director's supervision, they provide all the necessary primary care for infants and independent and group activities for toddlers and older children. Through games and exercises, they help children develop self-esteem, curiosity, imagination, physical skills, and speech. Workers also oversee the children's health and nutrition, sometimes having the children participate in the preparation of breakfast and lunch.

Some day care centers are nonprofit organizations operated or subsidized by community or government agencies, while others are privately owned. Many corporations run day care centers for the children of their employees. Children's parents may assist staff members.

Education and Training Requirements

Day care workers must have high school diplomas and know how to make children feel secure. Some form of on-the-job training is usually required. Many workers enroll in formal programs that include courses in education, nutrition, psychology, and speech. Some two-year colleges offer associate's degrees in preschool or early childhood education.

Workers interested in advancement to administrative positions need bachelor's degrees. Some centers require teaching certification for higher-level positions.

Getting the Job

Job seekers can apply directly to day care centers. State departments of education often have information about state-run centers. School placement offices, newspaper classified ads, and job banks on the Internet are other sources of employment information.

Day care workers tend to the needs of preschool children at a day care center. They use a variety of games and exercises to aid a child's growth. (© Jacques M. Chenet/Corbis.)

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Day care workers usually start as staff assistants. After a period of training, they take responsibility for the care of a group of children. With extensive experience, they may advance to supervisor. Workers with college degrees in early childhood development or related fields may start at positions with more responsibility.

The job outlook is very good through 2014. Turnover in the field is high. In addition, increases in the number of children under age five and in the number of women of childbearing age entering the labor force are expected over the next decade, creating a demand for day care.

Working Conditions

Many day care centers are open twelve hours each day, with staff working eight-hour shifts. Usually a worker is in charge of a group of six to twelve children. Some centers are in modern buildings specially designed for day care, while others are in remodeled homes or older buildings. Some are on the premises of factories or corporations where the children's parents are employed.

Where to Go for More Information

National Association for the Education of Young Children
1313 L St. NW, Ste. 500
Washington, DC 20005
(800) 424-2460

National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies
3101 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 350
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 341-4100

National Child Care Association
2025 M St. NW, Ste. 800
Washington, DC 20036-3309
(800) 543-7161

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings and benefits of day care workers vary according to education, experience, and the type of day care center. In 2004 the average wage was $9.76 per hour. Benefits ranged from minimal to average when compared with other professions.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesEducation & Training