Child Care Specialist Careers

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A true labor of love, caring for children is a fulfilling job in an industry that does not get the respect it deserves. Child Care Specialists care for children in child care centers, pre-schools, the children's homes, and sometimes in their own homes. Child care specialists are responsible for children's safety and for their social, emotional, and physical well-being. Child care duties include:

  • Maintaining a safe and nurturing environment
  • Engaging children in developmentally appropriate activities
  • Teaching social skills
  • Fostering learning skills and school readiness
  • Providing nutritious snacks or meals
  • Communicating with parents

Child care teachers and directors typically hold college degrees, while the lowest-paid jobs may require only a diploma or vocational certificate. As education gains attention in the U.S., programs offering a child care specialist or early childhood education associate's degree are on the rise. Employers sometimes prefer job applicants who have earned these nationally recognized credentials:

  • Child Development Associate (CDA), awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition
  • Certified Child Care Professional, awarded by the National Child Care Association

Child care worker training and licensing requirements vary among states but a license is usually required for services provided in a caregiver's home just as it is for centers and schools. Local governments and insurance companies sometimes have requirements as well.

Many child care specialists work part-time or are self-employed. The median hourly wage for child care workers in 2004 was $8.06. Job opportunities are good.

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Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-2007 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.