An Early Childhood Educator, also referred to as a Childcare Worker, are responsible for the care and early education of babies and young children (0-5 years old). The position is perhaps one of the most fulfilling jobs in childcare, as it offers an opportunity to make an influential and lifelong impact in children’s lives. An Early Childhood Educator will help children through their path of self-discovery by instilling confidence and being a source of inspiration. You will encourage children to play and interact with each other as well as ensuring the safety of all children in your care.
You will find Childcare Workers in a range of settings, including kindergartens, childcare centres, community centres, schools or even private households. If you work at a private establishment, then you’d be much more hands on and responsible directly for keeping the children entertained and engaged.
Contrary to common perception, being an Early Childhood Educator is not just about playing with children. The role requires you to be preparing a structured learning schedule for your children, to help stimulate their growing minds and prepare them for the world as they begin to experience new environments. Ultimately, you are responsible for the lives of several young children, and must be reliable, organised and devoted to their care.
- Organising and implementing early learning educational programs as set by the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF).
- Inspiring and motivating children to form positive attitudes towards learning and interacting with others
- Foster an environment that encourages problem solving and curiosity and exploration in children.
- Create genuine relationships with children to give them a sense of belonging and emotional support.
- Create positive and friendly relationships with families and community that promotes information sharing and creates a sense of duty and care.
- Be in charge of child health and safety while in school. As such, the early childhood educator must monitor the environment to ensure it is safe and prevent the occurrence of accidents. He or she must closely monitor the well-being of children and take appropriate action if a child is unwell.
- General care of children at a young age
If you love working with children, then you should seriously consider a career as an Early Childhood Educator. We take a closer look at what the role offers in more detail below.
What does an Early Childhood Educator do?
Much of the time is spent playing with the children and encouraging safe, stimulating and responsible behaviour with toys, equipment and environments. As part of a team you will normally organise a range of activities as well as supervising everything from free play to meal times.
You will also need to provide support and encouragement for personal hygiene and toilet visits. If looking after toddlers and babies you will doubt need to change a few nappies and administer bottle feeds.
Skill & Experience
Like any child care job, you will need to have a good manner with children as well as be patient, articulate and understanding. As the job can be very energetic and demanding, you will need to have a good level of physical fitness and mental and physical stamina – not to mention enthusiasm!
You will also require a degree of professionalism, as you will be liaising with parents on a daily basis discussing the progress of their children.
Early Childcare Educators are in high demand, with countless childcare centres around the country. As such,it can be relatively easy landing your first position without any prior experience. It is however, essential that you have the necessary qualifications. For help finding a new childcare job, check out our childcare CV template, or read about the types of questions you may be asked.
In terms of qualifications, all child care workers in Australia will need at least a Certificate III in Early Childhood and Care and/or Children’s Services. This is legal requirement and you will not be allowed to work in a professional setting without one. You may also undertake a Diploma of Early Childhood, which will grant you more responsibility and a higher wage. For those looking to progress or become a Early Childhood Teacher, then you will be need to study and complete a Bachelor’s of Early Childhood Education. This will mean that if you want to change careers within the industry in future then you already have the necessary qualifications.
All child care workers in Australia will also need to have a criminal record background check as standard, hold a valid Blue Card, and First Aid Certificate.
The average salary for a Childcare Worker in Australia is around $44,000 per year (around $22.00 per hour), although this will of course vary by employer and level of experience.
Expect to work around 37 hours per week, although you may be asked to work longer hours on occasion due to absent staff. Certain places like hospitals or creches can also have variable hours to accommodate demand, so you could be working from around 8am up to around 7 or 8pm. It is also common for centre employees to work on shift rosters, whereby one day you may work from 8am – 4pm and the next you’re there from 10am – 6pm.
Most of these institutions operate only five days a week, but are quite open to hiring part-time and casual workers.
Who’s this role for?
According to statistics, 98.3 % of all Early Childhood Educators in Australia are women. However, men should not be intimidated into entering this field as the industry could really benefit from the increased diversification. This role is for all people who are passionate about children and teaching.
As this is a job that deals with children, you must gauge yourself to determine whether you have an interest in working with kids. If you find it cumbersome to deal with them or dislike being around children, this is not the job for you. You must be empathetic to their needs and be attentive to detail. Early Childhood Educators must be very hands on, and be prepared to get a little dirty with the kids.
The Australian childcare industry is projected to grow by over 40% by 2020, so there are plenty of opportunities for new and experienced Early Childhood Educators. There are vacancies in all states but the highest opportunities are in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Other than private schools, the local government, and community-based centres are the largest employers of early childhood educators.
There is also several career pathways to develop into – including:
Dealing with kids is fun; they hold no grudges and are ever happy. You get to impart life lessons and you become just like a parent. You will form strong bonds with the kids and sometimes feel like they are part of your family. There is nothing as fulfilling as watching the excitement and laughter of a child.
Working with kids requires a lot of patience. Their growing minds will not always learn things as fast as you would want them to. Being around kids can be grubby work. And be prepared to have a lot of sick days!