Child care providers take care of and nurture children who are not yet ready to enter kindergarten. Whether they work in the family home, a private facility or a public child care center, these professionals play a vital role in children’s development and well being through structured games, exercises and activities. The specialized skills you’ll need to launch a career as a child care provider can be obtained in an associate’s degree in applied psychology program.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that child care provider jobs are expected to grow steadily in coming years. Employment will rise along with an increasing emphasis on early childhood education. In addition, a trend toward wider acceptance of formal education before kindergarten will increase the number of private preschool programs and child care provider jobs.
Daily tasks of child care providers vary, depending on the employer. Duties may include supervising independent play, instructing children in games, and teaching skills such as drawing, counting and reading. When caring for infants, child care providers typically sterilize bottles, prepare formulas and change diapers. These professionals often accompany older children on outings, or to and from school.
Some child care providers work with individual children, while others are in charge of small groups. Teaching and basic care are the mainstays of the child care provider’s day, but at times they will also discipline children, control behavior and teach good habits, such as sharing toys and cleaning up work spaces. Other important aspects of a child care provider’s job are building self-esteem, fostering independence, developing individual talents, and attending to children’s physical, emotional, social and intellectual growth.
Preparing nutritious meals and snacks, reading to children, telling stories and meeting with parents are additional child care providers duties. Close monitoring of the children in their care often gives them opportunities to identify emotional or behavioral issues, illnesses and injuries. Child care providers may also supervise older children before and after school – when parents are working or otherwise unavailable. By collaborating with administrators, peers and parents, child care providers help children learn skills they’ll need in school and encourage them to reach their potential.
Child care providers may be on the job full-time or part-time, working day, evening, or weekend hours. Some are self-employed, while others work for private employers or for private or public child care centers. Physical activities, such as lifting children, standing and kneeling, are typical.
The BLS reports that in May 2010, the average annual income for child care providers was $21,110. The middle 50% earned between $17,210 and $23,830. Salaries for the lowest 10% were around $15,900, while the highest 10% brought in approximately $29,280. Recent associate’s degree program graduates will typically start out toward the lower end of the scale and move up in salary with experience.
Training, education and licensing requirements for child care provider positions vary by state and employer. Employers often show preference to candidates holding an associate’s degree. In addition, many employers prefer to hire child care providers who have earned the Child Development Associate credential, awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition, or the Child Care Professional, awarded by the National Child Care Association. Qualifications for these credentials include college-level courses.
The road to becoming a child care provider can begin with earning an Associate of Arts in Applied Psychology. Coursework typically includes psychology of adjustment and personal growth, lifespan development and psychology, and human behavior perspective.
Employers can be confident that graduates of an associate’s degree in applied psychology program are able to:
Some employers offer opportunities for continuing education. It’s possible to enter the field with an associate’s degree and use a tuition assistance program to pay for a bachelor’s degree program.
Child care providers are important to the children they supervise and nurture. This career is ideal for mature, patient individuals who are enthusiastic about interacting with children and enjoy teaching new skills. It also requires strong communication, the ability to work on a team, and an understanding of child development and human behavior. Child care providers are well-positioned to move up to preschool administration and other child advocacy positions, after earning a bachelor’s in applied psychology with a concentration in child advocacy.