Raising children is one of the hardest things you can ever do in life. Raising other people’s children is even harder – and nobler than raising your own.

And those that are called to do that work (childcare) are some of the kindest people on earth. They’re the ones you want taking care of your children when you can’t, for whatever reason.

If you’re one of these admirable people who feel called to take care of other people’s children, you may be wondering how to become a child care professional.

To find out, you have to get more specific. There are various types of child care workers and different training levels that go with them. Ready to learn more?

Read on, below.

What Type of Child Care Professional Should You Be?

When it comes to deciding how to work with children professionally, it depends on whether you want to work part or full time and if you’re willing to go through years of school.

We’ll start with the jobs that require the least amount of schooling and commitment and then work our way up.

Mothers Helper

A mother’s helper is a younger child that stays in the home with children while there’s still a parent present. They entertain them the way a babysitter would but aren’t old enough to be left with the children on their own.

This is how many child care professionals get their start in the industry, around ages 10-14. The age it’s legal to leave a child home alone (with another child) depends on the state, so look up local laws.

Babysitter

Once you’re a little older, you can move from mother’s helper to babysitter. A babysitter stays with the children while the parents are out of the house, doing whatever they need to do.

Babysitting is short-term and usually sporadic. If you want to babysit for longer hours on a more regular schedule, consider being a …

Nanny

There is a difference between babysitters and nannies. Nannys will tell you so, and may even feel insulted if you call them a babysitter.

Nannies spend more time with children per day or watch them on a more regular basis. They usually start by building up years of experience as a babysitter, before getting hired as a nanny.

Nannies have plenty of job options, including being an Au Pair.

An Au Pair is a nanny who goes to a different country to nanny children, living with the family, while they teach the children their native language (and learn the foreign language, themselves).

Since au pairs live with the family, they make significantly less than general nannies do, per hour. However, all their living expenses are paid for them, so the rate difference usually events out.

Childcare Worker (Daycare)

If you want a job in a daycare center or a preschool (depending on the state), you can apply to different daycare centers.

Now, there’s a difference between a preschool teacher and a daycare worker, but we’ll get to that next.

To work in a daycare, you may have to do a specific number of training hours through the state. Or, you may just need childcare experience and references.

No matter where you apply if you’re working with a business, you’ll need to go through a background check. Most places also require you to get officially fingerprinted with your local police department.

This is for the protection of the children and is an industry-standard.

Daycare or childcare workers have the same duties as nannies but on a larger scale. The general ratio is eight children for every one adult, but it differs from place to place.

If you want to work in a preschool and make slightly more money, you can become an …

Early Childhood Educator

Early childhood educators or ECE’s have at least a training certificate if not a two or four-year degree. Their training involves learning about the different stages and theories of child development.

They get trained on how to encourage social skills, gross and fine motor skills, and how to handle behavioral issues with children up to Kindergarten age (in most cases).

ECE’s can be lead preschool teachers or general childcare workers. Each workplace and state decide what type of certification you need to hold which job title in childcare.

Childcare Center Manager or Director

If you want to work in childcare but be a little less hands-on, you can get a degree to become a program/location director. These people organize classrooms, decide the curriculum, hire teachers, and manage day-to-day business tasks.

To get hired as a manager or director, you will need a four-year degree and years of experience in the field. Many people start out as an assistant director and work their way up over time.

To succeed in this position, you have to be business-minded and detail-oriented. Part of your job will be learning how to manage teams of people who are managing their own classrooms. It’s not an easy job and it doesn’t pay nearly as much as it should.

In fact, childcare is one of the most underpaid professions, even though it’s one of the noblest and most important.

The average pay salary of an ECE worker is around $30,000 a year. A director only makes ten or more thousand a year.

The low pay is one thing that makes the people that work in the profession even more important and valued by society (though we agree everyone deserves a raise!)

A Job with Heart

When you’re a child care professional, your job isn’t easy, but it is fun. There will be days when you want to pull your hair out, but just as many days where you go home with the most warm-fuzzies you’ve ever experienced.

Part of your job as someone that works with children is to love them while you’re helping them grow.

Sound good to you? Want to learn more? Browse other niche-specific jobs and articles on our site.

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