The wages and salaries of childcare workers in Australia are very much governed by the Children Services Award (2010) published by the Fair Work Commission. The Award outlines a number of rules and regulations pertaining to the relationship between childcare employers and employees, one of which being the minimum wages of early childcare professionals.
Although salaries can often vary from centre to centre, the wages for junior jobs tend to sit within a couple of dollars (per hour) of the standards set within the Children Services Award.
There are four primary factors that influence your ability to increase your pay.
To get a job as an early childhood educator in most states, you must be currently studying towards a Certificate III in Children’s Services (or Early Childhood Education). Wages start from $20.29 per hour for those who have yet to complete their Certificate, while those who have qualified could expect an hourly pay of $21.99+.
Employees who have completed a Level 5 Diploma in Children Services, have a much wider knowledge than childcare workers with just a Certificate. With the additional skills and education obtained with this qualification, you may expect a minimum wage of $23.21 per hour (or $881.90 per week) and opens up a pathway for you to progress into more senior childcare roles. The Diploma is required to progress to a management position in childcare centres.
Typically, childcare workers who have devoted several years studying a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood), will be working in an Early Childhood Teacher role. Unlike all the other positions employed at a Childcare Centre (including the Centre Director), to become an Early Childhood Teacher you must possess a bachelor’s degree. In this respect Early Childhood Teachers are actually classed with other teachers (i.e. primary and secondary school teachers); and the salaries of which defined by the Education Services (Teachers) Award. The starting salary for an Early childhood teacher is from $46,782 per year (or $900 per week), but will increase steadily as your job experience grows – up to about $65,000 – $70,000 per year.
2) Job Responsibilities
The second determining factor of a childcare workers pay, relates to the depth of their responsibilities and their work experience.
The degree of responsibilities in an Early Childhood Educators job in most cases goes hand in hand with their seniority. If you work as a supervisor or room leader in a childcare centre, you are classed as Level 4 under the Children Services Award and are entitled to $24.28+ on commencement of the job. Usually this position will be held by an employee that is diploma qualified, however certificate holders may also take on the responsibilities, but do so at less pay.
Assistant Director or Day Care Coordinator
Employees who have completed a Diploma of Children Services and have been appointed the job of Assistant Director or Day Care Coordinator can expect a larger amount of compensation for the responsibilities. Beginning at $25.39 per hour, these roles require additional skill sets as they will be responsible for the organisation of many of the childcare centre’s daily activities, administration and processes. It is not uncommon for childcare workers in these positions to earn more than the Award amount, in the effort to attract highly capable talent to the job.
Childcare Centre Director
Finally, the Centre Director or Centre Manager is ultimately responsible for the management of the childcare centre and its staff. Although the Children Services Award dictates a minimum wage of $29.28 that equates to $57,850 per year, Centre Director jobs can be seen advertised with salaries as high as $80,000. Generally this depends on the size of childcare centre and the number of children and staff on the premises. Naturally the larger the centre, the more responsibility and compensation for the role.
3) Work Experience
With all the criteria above, a childcare employee can further increase their wage based on the number of years’ experience they have. With pay increasing after the first and second year of employment at each level, providing childcare workers a path of progression. Outside of the Children Services Aware, job experience will also assist you greatly in obtaining a new or more senior role.
Lastly, whether you work full-time, part-time or casual can also influence the rate at which you get paid. With casual jobs receiving significantly more compensation to offset the lack of benefits obligated to full-time and part-time staff – i.e. annual leave, sick leave etc. Higher casual rates, also help attract childcare workers who are happy to turn up on call, which is often the case when full-time employees are sick or on leave. Due to government regulations childcare centres must obey a strict carer to child ratio, meaning there is high demand for casual workers who can be flexible with their time.
At the end of the day, each childcare centre operates differently and there can be a slight variances in wages and salaries. The Children Services Award only outlines the minimum wage for each level of employee, so don’t be surprised if you see some centres offer higher wages than others.
For a complete rundown of the childcare wages stipulated in the Children Services Award refer to the table below, or visit Fairwork Commission website.