Working in a caring profession offers a number of career paths for candidates of all ages and levels of expertise, and job opportunities across the private, public or voluntary sectors provide a rewarding experience. But for those of you looking to work with children and young people, progressing in the world of childcare and early years services can be a little daunting.
We have compiled a must-have guide to getting started with a career in childcare, exploring everything from roles available, professional development, education, the pros and cons of pursuing a childcare role, application requirements and the financial rewards of such an emotionally fulfilling career path.
What Roles are Available?
As we’ve mentioned there are various routes of progression within the childcare and early years sector, some of which require stringent qualifications and others that focus more on training on the job. Social care, support and nanny roles need a mixture of qualifications and experience, whilst work as an au pair can be found through a love for the job and a responsible attitude. Becoming a childcare professional tends to take a lot of time and effort in the pursuit of classroom and practical experience but the results ensure high standards throughout a very delicate and significant industry.
Training and Qualifications
The role of a professional childcare provider is an important one and there are a number of hoops candidates will have to jump through to ensure there meet legal and professional requirements. There are a number of training programs available for those looking to care for children from birth to age five and at school age, and each program provides a great grounding both theoretically and practically. To complete these courses and get the correct level of certification you must also complete a certain number of contact hours with children.
In the childcare industry, there is also an onus on continuous training and professional development, especially for registered family day care, group family day care and school age childcare. Many states require you to complete ongoing training to maintain your childcare license or registration. For more information on the regulations in your state, please consult your childcare training provider or the Division of Child Care Services as each role requires a certain level of accreditation.
Is a Career in Child Care Right for You?
Before embarking on your quest to become a childcare professional, it is important to figure out if a career in the sector is right for you. Whilst the industry offers rewarding experiences, it is not for the fainthearted and requires a lot of patient and a permanent positive attitude – which isn’t always easy after a bad day. The childcare industry is generally not as well paid as you may think despite its significance in each individual child’s development and the wider community. Whilst the rate of pay varies widely from role to role, the average hourly pay for childcare workers is $8.94, whilst teacher assistants earn slightly more at $10.24 per hour.
So what are the main pros and cons of working in the childcare sector? And how will they inevitably help you make the right decision about your prospective vocation? The cons we’ve already mentioned are that many roles don’t command the pay rate they deserve, whilst other benefits such as holidays and sick pay are also lacking as workers tend to work long hours and only have time off when the children or their parents do. However, the pros of working in childcare are the experience that it provides and if you work for a great company the environment that the roles offer is also second to none.
The childcare sector also offers excellent progression and career development opportunities so even if you are a not happy with your pay in the early years you can work towards a brighter and better paid future by climbing the career ladder.
This post was written by County Nannies UK, a nanny and au pair agency that specialises in providing a perfect and personalised childcare alternative for busy working parents. County Nannies also provides guidance for childcare professionals around the world.
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Good luck in your search,