Working with children is one of the noblest fields of work a person can be in. If you’re thinking about working in childcare, remember there will be certain things expected of you. There’s the obvious expectation that you like children on some level; although it isn’t a requirement (but it sure does help!). Other expectations depend on the type of job you choose.
There are different jobs for the similar types of childcare jobs. Take babysitting for instance. When doing it part-time, most will say that you’re a babysitter since you are there during the day or the evening. You only watch children for several hours a day. However, if you’re a nanny, it is implied that you work full-time. However, if you watch children all day, but it isn’t at their residence, then you would be referred to as a day care worker. In this case, children would be brought to a facility. The terms continue to differ if you work in childcare, in addition to an educator. This brings us into the realm of kindergarten and pre-school teachers. All these jobs pay differently and require different things, but they all lie under the brand of childcare professional. Keep that in mind as we continue through the article.
Education required for a nanny, professional babysitter or a daycare worker, depends largely on the employer. Some places only require a high school diploma, while some may want a college degree. In addition to these pre-requisites, certificates are also necessary in most cases in addition to, or alternatively, a training course. For training course information, look for your state’s requirements. An example of these differences is if you want to work for a Head Start program. These programs require a college degree, as well as if you are planning to be a teacher of small children (including Pre-K and kindergarten).
If you want to be a home daycare providers, getting licensed can’t be avoided. Each state has its own process of completing licenses. The most common way is to pay a fee for the license, going through orientation and passing the home inspection. During the inspection, the facility is checked to ensure cleanliness, organization and safety as required by the state.
There are also certifications you should take to show that you know how to take care of children. These are the CDA, Child Development Associate, and the CCP, Child Care Professional. Both of these certifications are recognized on a national level; as they are offered by the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation, so you don’t have to worry about taking them multiple times in different states, or worrying if you're credentialed will carry over in a new state. Both certifications require quite a lot of time to complete. Be sure to start them as early as you can.
The Child Development Associate Certificate is offered in four different versions; family child care, home visit, preschool and toddler/infant care. Fortunately, each credential has similar requirements and only need to be renewed every 4 years (they expire after 3 years). Once you’ve passed the first year, you will be able to have it without it being renewed for 5 years.
In order to get any of the CDA certificates offered, you must have professionally worked with children for 480 hours as well as 120 hours of formal education in the realm of early child care. In order to pass the initial assessment, you will need references from parents as well as be needing to pass the exam. You will need a high school diploma or GED to attain this certification.
The Child Care Professional certification is a bit harder to earn than the CDA. It is primarily used as an alternative education requirement for those that want to go into teaching. To get the CCP, you will have had to spend 720 hours teaching professionally, as well as a portfolio. You will also need continuing education hours totaling to 180 hours. These credits can be earned either by attending child care conferences or by taking college courses. As with the CDA, you will need to pass the formal exam. You will go through a formal review while you are observed in a classroom. Once the credit is earned, you will need to continue with continuing education, submitting 20 hours, every two years.
Although the CCP doesn’t require the CDA, having it can help. Because getting the CDA requires things like having work experience, reference letters, first aid training among other useful objectives; having it will fill in a lot of the things you’ll need for this certification.
If you want to do something related to children, but you don’t want to work in a day care, or as a babysitter/nanny; there are options. You’ll find them down below.
Although the pay is low, teaching is for those that truly love children. It requires long hours, no praise and you get blamed for everyone’s problems; but there is a silver lining! If you’re a good teacher, your students will remember you for the rest of their life. And you may change the dangerous path they may be on. As stated above, you’ll need a CCP certificate or a bachelor’s degree to become a teacher. There are other options to teaching, such as becoming a tutor. For example, Test prep tutors, for need only to pass the required test (SAT, ACT, GREP, LSAT, etc) with a high score and can teach others.
This profession is for those that are kids at heart. If you love being outdoors and camp activities, this is the profession for you. The only downside is that the role is seasonal, as camps are only functional during months when kids aren’t at school. Although most camp directors have a college degree, it isn’t required for the position.
In conclusion, these are just some of the professions you can choose if you love working with children. There are many out there that weren’t mentioned here, such as pediatrics nurses and doctors and child psychologists. The two things you need to have a successful career as a child professional is the love of kids and the ability (and patience) to jump through hoops.