How to Become a Childcare Worker: The Ultimate Guide (2023)

If you’re thinking about going into the childcare profession, read this guide to get to grips with the careers you could step into, the average salary you could earn, and the qualifications you need to get started.

Key points:

  • The EMSI predicted there would be 111,000 jobs in childcare by 2025 in Cardiff alone. Childcare professionals are in demand.
  • You can get into childcare via a college course, an apprenticeship or by gaining a work experience placement
  • To work directly with children, you must have (or be working towards) specific qualifications

What is a childcare worker?

A childcare worker is a qualified and trustworthy person, who is responsible for the health, safety and wellbeing of a child while their parents or guardians are working, or fulfilling other responsibilities, like learning or caring.

How to Become a Childcare Worker: The Ultimate Guide (1)

What does a childcare worker do?

A childcare worker has specific duties and responsibilities, depending on their setting.

An early years playworker, for example, will create an engaging environment where children learn through safe activities and imaginative play, designed to develop their social skills.

Regardless of the title, people who work with children are responsible for their progression and development. They adhere to educational frameworks and comply with childcare laws and legislation.

What childcare jobs are there?

TheCardiff and Vale Collegereported the EMSI’s predictions, that there would be 111,000 jobs in childcare by 2025 in Cardiff alone.

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It’s a growing industry for would-be childcare workers, with plenty of opportunities to specialise in particular vocations and environments.

Types of childcare vocations

  • Nursery worker
  • Nursery assistant
  • Nursery officer
  • Early years educator
  • Pre-school assistant
  • Playgroup assistant
  • Childcare worker
  • Nanny
  • Childminder

There are many more which are specific to the childcare setting. There will be a crossover of duties and responsibilities, meaning you can gain experience but change your career direction later down the line.

Childcare workers typically operate in:

  • Nurseries
  • Sessional care
  • Creche
  • Schools
  • Private and public healthcare settings, like hospitals and doctors surgeries
  • Playgroups
  • Residential homes and private residences
  • Childminders

To work in any of these places, you need to be passionate about developing the abilities of children and have an awareness that everything you do should be in the name of positively impacting their lives.

How to work in childcare

Your root into childcare could be via:

  • A childcare or education course achieved at college or in a sixth form
  • Work experience or volunteering in a childcare setting
  • Achildcare apprenticeship, working and learning at the same time
  • Applying directly to a setting as a trainee

But the avenues into childcare depend on the type of childcare worker you want to be, and where you live in the UK.

For example, the experience required to work in a nursery, children’s residential care, or a children’s social care role, will vary between England and Wales.

But wherever you live and work, we can say that if you want to work directly with children, you must be DBS checked and qualified to do so.

Relevant work experience, or equivalent qualifications, can mitigate the need for specific qualifications, but it depends on the setting and role.

Childcare jobs and average salaries of childcare workers

There’s a big spectrum of childcare jobs in Wales. Careers Wales has abig list of careers you can explore, which tells you how in-demand a role is, the salary expectations, plus a bit about the role and its duties and responsibilities.

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We researched the most popular childcare jobs on the 24th June 2021, to compare the hours and salary expectation for entry-level and more experienced workers:

Job title: Childminder

  • Setting: Private homes
  • Hours: It varies, but usually it’s up to 38 hours per week
  • Salary: £15,500 starting, £23,500 experienced

Job title: Care assistant / Childcare support worker

  • Setting: Day centres, special schools, day centres and residential homes
  • Hours: 37.5 hours
  • Salary: £15,000 starting, £20,000 experienced

Job title: Nursery assistant

  • Setting: A private, or charity-run, nursery
  • Hours: 35-40 hours per week
  • Salary: £14,500 starting, £17,500 experienced

Job title: Nursery nurse

  • Setting: Childcare environments suitable for children between 0-5 years old
  • Hours: 38-40 hours per week
  • Salary: £14,000 starting, £17,000 experienced

Job title: Nursery worker / Nursery assistant

  • Setting: Nurseries, creche, planning fun and educational activities
  • Hours: 35-40 hours per week
  • Salary: £14,500 starting, £17,500 experienced

Job title: Early years teacher / Nursery school teacher

  • Setting: Nurseries and primary schools, with children aged 3-to 7-year-olds
  • Hours: 33 hours per week
  • Salary: £17,682 starting, £40,490 experienced

Job title: Playworker

  • Setting: Nurseries
  • Hours: 35-39 hours per week
  • Salary: £15,000 starting, £17,500 experienced

Job title: Teaching assistant

  • Setting: Schools
  • Hours: 37 hours per week
  • Salary: £14,500 starting, £18,000 experienced

You can progress from an entry-level role into a senior position once you’ve gained experience and your childcare qualifications.

What qualifications do you need to be a childcare worker?

The qualifications you pursue depend on what kind of childcare worker you want to be.

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If you’re a school leaver, you can opt to take a childcare course at college.

Sixth form or college childcare courses usually have a big emphasis on work experience and placements in nurseries and schools. You need to be able to prove you have experience of working with children to get a childcare worker role when you graduate.

Alternatively, and this is a popular route, you can learn on the job with a childcare apprenticeship.

What is a childcare apprenticeship?

Childcare apprenticeshipsare an earn-while-you-learn route into a childcare role.

You’re interviewed and hired as a nursery nurse, early years teacher, or teaching assistant, and your employer claims the course fees back from the Welsh Government to fund your studies.

You fulfil the role as outlined in your job description, and you sign up to learn the course materials, complete assignments and take assessments and tests to earn the apprenticeship and prove your abilities.

Apprenticeships are open to young learners who have just left school, or to those who have been working for a number of years.

There are usually no barriers to entry. If you’re lacking GCSEs in English or Maths, the apprenticeship consists of Essential Skills Wales qualifications to cover off skills gaps. Plus, you get a coach to help you navigate any topics you find more difficult.

How to Become a Childcare Worker: The Ultimate Guide (2)

What childcare courses are there?

Children’s Care, Play, Learning Development (CCPLD)

You can take a CCPLD inLevels 2,3and 4.

This apprenticeship will give you the qualifications to work with nursery age children, up to around 8 years old.

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You can take a Playwork apprenticeship inLevels 2,3anddiploma level 5.

It’s aimed at holiday clubs, breakfast and after school club or youth groups.

Whichever childcare career you plump for, there are opportunities to move into other fields and branch out.

For example, if you start with a CCPLD Level 2 qualification, you might discover that your real passion is in early years imagination play in afterschool clubs. In that case, you could advance your expertise with a Playwork Level 3 qualification, to specialise.

What jobs can you get with a Level 2 in Childcare?

  • Level 2 Nursery nurse
  • Early years practitioner
  • Day nursery assistant
  • Childcare practitioner

What jobs can you do with a Level 3 in Childcare?

  • Teaching assistant
  • Nursery room leader
  • Senior nursery practitioner
  • Level 3 Nursery nurse
  • Nursery manager

What is the need for childcare in the UK?

According to the Office of National Statistics:

  • There were around eight million families with dependent children in the UK in 2019.
  • From April to June 2019, 3 in 4 mothers with dependent children (75.1%) were in work.
  • Almost 3 in 10 mothers (28.5%) with a child aged 14 years and under said they had reduced their working hours because of childcare reasons. This compared with 1 in 20 fathers (4.8%).

Parents and guardians have social and economic responsibilities that take them away from parenting. They need trustworthy people who are invested in their wellbeing, progression and development to take care of them in their absence.

The Money Advice Servicesays that the average cost of childcare in the UK is £14,000 a year. According to theOECD Family Database, the UK’s childcare system is one of the most expensive in the world. The cost has increased by27% since 2009.For a lot of families, the cost of childcare is equivalent to one parent’s monthly salary.

With that in mind, it’s little wonder that families expect exceptional quality care from childcare providers.

Inspire a new generation

Childcare apprenticeshipsand qualifications show you how to be a positive influence in a child’s life.

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To become a bright star in the childcare industry (someone the children will love to be around) immerse yourself in everything a fully-funded qualification has to offer and transfer it into your place of work.


What is the highest paid job in childcare? ›

High Paying Daycare Jobs
  • Early Childhood Director. Salary range: $40,500-$66,000 per year. ...
  • Child Life Specialist. Salary range: $40,500-$54,000 per year. ...
  • Nursery School Teacher. Salary range: $33,000-$54,000 per year. ...
  • Early Childhood Specialist. ...
  • Nursery Manager. ...
  • Child Development Specialist. ...
  • Day Care Director. ...
  • Nursery Technician.

What are 5 skills you need as an early childhood educator? ›

5 Essential Skills for an Early Childhood Educator
  • Patience. Children go through different stages of learning. ...
  • Communication. Young children aren't always good at expressing themselves or effectively communicating—that's why ECE teachers need to be excellent communicators. ...
  • Creativity. ...
  • Organization. ...
  • Enthusiasm.

What are the most important qualities of child care staff and why? ›

5 Qualities of A Good Childcare Provider
  • Patience : Patience is the most important quality a childcare provider should have. ...
  • Communication skills : Having strong communication skills is an essential trait to be successful as a childcare provider. ...
  • Positive regard for kids : ...
  • Energy : ...
  • Proper training :

What state pays daycare workers the most? ›

Geographic profile for Childcare Workers:
StateEmployment (1)Hourly mean wage
Texas43,200$ 11.43
New York41,720$ 15.89
California28,240$ 17.02
Florida27,740$ 13.25
1 more row

Is childcare a stressful job? ›

Let's face it, working in child care is exceptionally stressful. Being a child care provider is a tough job that requires an unimaginable amount of patience. Child care providers are human and have bad days just like everyone else. Unfortunately, their bad days sometimes have bigger consequences.

What are some weaknesses in childcare? ›

A childcare business may have weaknesses relative to competitors, such as a relatively small physical facility, previous financial or legal issues, and lack of experience.

What knowledge do you need to work in childcare? ›

Effective communication and engagement

They should have effective skills in consultation and negotiation, and be able to summarise and explain information or choices to children, young people and their carers. They need to understand how effective communication works and be aware of confidentiality, ethics and respect.

What are the three A's of child care? ›

The 3A's of child care—Attention, Approval, and Affection—are powerful tools.

How do you usually handle misbehaving children? ›

10 healthy discipline strategies that work
  1. Show and tell. Teach children right from wrong with calm words and actions. ...
  2. Set limits. ...
  3. Give consequences. ...
  4. Hear them out. ...
  5. Give them your attention. ...
  6. Catch them being good. ...
  7. Know when not to respond. ...
  8. Be prepared for trouble.
Nov 5, 2018

Where is childcare needed the most? ›

Detailed List Of The Best States For Childcare Providers
RankState# Of People
46 more rows
Aug 1, 2022

How can I make money owning a daycare? ›

Interesting things child care centers do to increase their revenue include:
  1. Charge for enrichment programs. ...
  2. Expand “other fees” you charge. ...
  3. Limit “discounts” and “credits”. ...
  4. Consider new ways to offer specials. ...
  5. Ensure regular tuition increases. ...
  6. Take advantage of Food Program money. ...
  7. Find grants.
Mar 15, 2019

How much do most daycares pay? ›

Daycare worker salary ranges between $18,000 - $37,000, with the average total compensation falling around $27,490 per year in 2021. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cited the median daycare teacher salary in 2021 to be $30,210/year.

Why do childcare workers quit? ›

Long working hours with no breaks

Some have even reported that they aren't able to mentally log off work, increasing its toll on their mental state. Aside from having more work hours in a week, childcare workers find almost no time to take a breather and regain their composure while working with their children.

Why are people leaving a daycare job? ›

41% said they left because they wanted to earn more money. 32% wanted more opportunities for professional growth. 25% wanted better benefits. 20% wanted better working conditions.

Why are staff leaving childcare? ›

The most common reason for staff considering leaving the sector was “feeling undervalued by government”, with 77% of respondents citing this reason. Two thirds of respondents (66%) said that their experience of working during the pandemic had increased the likelihood of them leaving the sector.

What is the biggest challenge in childcare? ›

A common challenge shared by most early childhood educators is paperwork. There can sometimes be a lot to get through, in a short amount of administration time. Of course, with practise and experience, dealing with this necessary part of the job becomes easier – all things you're taught during your studies at Selmar.

Why is working at a daycare so hard? ›

Physical demands: Day care work can be physically demanding, as well. Depending on your role, you may have to lift babies and small children, crouch down to speak with them at their eye level, be able to hear and see them well and also get hands-on to play and care for them.

What questions will they ask in a childcare interview? ›

Operational and Situational questions
  • What do you like most about working with children?
  • What do you like least about working with children?
  • What age groups do you prefer to work with?
  • Describe a time you resolved an issue with an unhappy parent.
  • What's the relationship between customer service and child care?

What are red flags in daycare? ›

Red flags: Lack of interaction with adults; children not engaged with materials or adults; lack of materials in classroom. 2. Emotional support from caregivers. Child care teachers should be loving, attentive and focused on the children in their care.

What is the most important thing in childcare? ›

1. Social Skills. Attending daycare allows children to develop social skills early on which are valuable for their social and emotional development. Learning how to deal with other people allows children to grow and the earlier a child begins to build his or her social kills, the easier it will become.

What skills do daycarers need? ›

Skills Every Childcare Provider Should Have
  • Patience.
  • First Aid.
  • Playful.
  • Observant.
  • Communication.
  • Organisation.
  • Child development knowledge.
  • Creativity.
Jun 2, 2022

How do I pass a childcare interview? ›

The interview
  1. Always arrive on time to the interview. ...
  2. Try to stay relaxed. ...
  3. Be polite and professional. ...
  4. Give detailed answers to questions. ...
  5. Try to keep eye contact. ...
  6. Stay for a play session if asked by the Nursery. ...
  7. Be prepared to ask some questions of your own. ...
  8. Thank them.
Jul 8, 2015

What are hard skills for child care? ›

Key skills for child care workers
  • Communication skills. ...
  • Planning and instruction. ...
  • Decision-making skills. ...
  • Problem-solving skills. ...
  • Analytical skills. ...
  • Compassion and empathy. ...
  • Organizational skills. ...
  • Leadership skills.
Oct 9, 2020

What are the main responsibilities of a childcare worker? ›

Roles and responsibilities
  • Provide care for toddlers and young children.
  • Plan and implement early learning educational programs.
  • Organise games and recreational activities.
  • Prepare food and snacks.
  • Monitor kids' hygiene.
  • Encourage interpersonal skills through mediating social interactions.

How can I make the most money in early childhood education? ›

How to Make More Money As a Preschool Teacher
  1. Tutor. ...
  2. Teach English Online. ...
  3. Provide Childcare to Families During Breaks. ...
  4. Work in Public Schools or Private Schools That Pay Well. ...
  5. Open a Teachers-Pay-Teachers (TpT) Store. ...
  6. Freelance as a Writer. ...
  7. Start an Online Business. ...
  8. Work Towards Owning a Preschool.

Where do daycare teachers make the most money? ›

Highest-Paid Preschool Teachers By State
RankStateAverage Preschool Teacher Salary
3New York$40,587
4New Mexico$38,878
46 more rows
Aug 2, 2022

Is there a level 7 in childcare? ›

Postgraduate certificates and diplomas at level 7 in early years, early childhood studies, childcare or playwork with an element of assessed performance in an early years setting are considered full and relevant.

How can I get the most money for daycare? ›

Interesting things child care centers do to increase their revenue include:
  1. Charge for enrichment programs. ...
  2. Expand “other fees” you charge. ...
  3. Limit “discounts” and “credits”. ...
  4. Consider new ways to offer specials. ...
  5. Ensure regular tuition increases. ...
  6. Take advantage of Food Program money. ...
  7. Find grants.
Mar 15, 2019

What is the highest paying job with little schooling? ›

Check out these 25 high-paying jobs (from lowest to highest salary) that don't require a bachelor's degree!
  1. Air Traffic Controller.
  2. Elevator Installer and Repairer. ...
  3. Nuclear Technician. ...
  4. Web Developer. ...
  5. Dental Hygienist. ...
  6. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers/Cardiovascular Technologists. ...
  7. Aerospace Technician. ...
Jan 20, 2023

What is the highest paid preschool teacher? ›

How Much Does a Preschool Teacher Make? Preschool Teachers made a median salary of $30,210 in 2021. The best-paid 25% made $38,620 that year, while the lowest-paid 25% made $28,440.

Is childcare a good career choice? ›

There are so many perks to working in childcare, such as teaching the future leaders of tomorrow, supporting children's social and intellectual development, as well as working within an environment that is supportive and shares the same passion as you!

What teachers get paid the least? ›

Arizona ranks lowest in teacher salary when adjusted for cost of living and quality of life.

What is the lowest paid teacher State? ›

Mississippi has the lowest average teacher salary of $45,574, followed by West Virginia with $47,826. The other states with average teacher salaries under $50,000 a year are New Mexico, Florida, South Dakota, Kansas, and Arizona.
Teacher Pay by State 2023.
StateTeacher Salary
New Mexico$54,272
48 more rows

How do I become a successful daycare teacher? ›

Advice for a New Preschool Teacher
  1. Be prepared and organized. ...
  2. Establish a regular routine and schedule. ...
  3. Be an explorer. ...
  4. Get to know every child as a unique individual. ...
  5. Become a keen and regular observer. ...
  6. Keep your sense of humor close by. ...
  7. Be yourself. ...
  8. Experiment.

Can you do a childcare course online? ›

Our childcare courses are available online through our virtual campus. We work closely with Cache, the specialist awarding body for people working in childcare and have a specialist department working in the early years industry.

What can I do after level 3 childcare? ›

Upon completion of the childcare level 3 apprenticeship, apprentices will achieve a recognised and accredited level 3 Early Years qualification. They will become a qualified practitioner and will also achieve a full paediatric first aid qualification.

How can I get 85% childcare paid for? ›

You may be able to claim back up to 85% of your childcare costs if you're eligible for Universal Credit. You (and your partner if you live with them) will usually need to either: be working - it does not matter how many hours you or your partner work. have a job offer.

How profitable is owning a daycare? ›

According to IBISWorld, the average profit margin for a daycare business is around 15%. That's higher than the average for most other industries! If you're thinking about starting a daycare business, know that you are getting into a very profitable and in-demand industry.

What is the minimum income for 30 hours free childcare? ›

If you're self-employed and started your business less than 12 months ago, you can earn less and still be eligible for 30 hours free childcare. For example, you're eligible if you're aged 23 or over and you earn £7,904 a year from irregular payments. This is the same as earning £1,976 every 3 months on average.


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