If you love watching children learn and grow, and want to turn that passion into a career, an on-campus or online degree in child care might be the perfect fit for you. In these programs, students learn the basics of child development and interpersonal growth while also training to provide care for children of all ages.
Some adults are naturally drawn to children and thrive in an environment where helping children improve their lives is the top priority. A degree in child care can take these exceptional individuals in a career direction that helps them reach their professional goals.
Although nearly anyone interested in working with children could benefit from a child care degree, these programs are mostly geared toward those who want to work in a professional child care setting. While babysitters typically don't need formal education to find work, most daycare and child care centers prefer to hire people who have some postsecondary education or credentials. Further, individuals who hope to start an in-home daycare could also benefit from these programs. By earning a child care degree, they can show potential clients and parents that they understand the various stages of child development and know basic child care methods and best practices.
Choosing the Right Degree
There are several different program levels available to those interested in pursuing a degree in child care. The following chart shows the degree types commonly offered in this field, as well as potential career options for each:
|Degree Level||Length of Completion||Potential Careers|
Most certificates take 6-18 months to complete.
Childcare Worker, Preschool Teacher
Associate degrees generally take two years of full-time study to complete.
Preschool or Childcare Center Director, Preschool Teacher, Childcare Worker
Most bachelor's degrees require four years of full-time study.
Preschool or Childcare Center Director, Elementary School Teacher, Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher, Preschool Teacher, Special Education Teacher
Many licensed daycare facilities insist employees have at least an associate degree in child care, and managers of these centers may need a bachelor's degree in child care management or a related field. According to the U.S. Department of Labor and the National Child Care Association (NCCA), some employers also prefer child care workers who have earned a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential from the Council for Professional Recognition or a Child Care Professional (CCP) credential from the NCCA.
What to Expect in a Child Care Program
In a child care degree program, students can expect to study the complex world of child development, learn best practices in child care and instruction, and work on the interpersonal skills required to relate to children in their care. Although curriculum can vary depending on the type and length of program chosen, most child care degree programs include the following courses in their core curriculum:
- Child Development
- Childcare and Technology
- Program and Activity Planning
- Financing and Budget Planning
- Childhood Nutrition
- Child Safety
- Basic Infant and Toddler Care
- Learning Assessment
- Instructional Strategy
During these courses, students will study popular childcare and child-rearing methods as well as a variety of issues that impact children's growth and development. Specific topics discussed in child care courses may include:
- Overall growth and development matters
- Health and safety, including CPR and first aid
- Child care regulations and laws (both national and state-specific)
- Special needs children
- Parent/child relationships
- Language development
- Preschool instruction
- Activity preparation and scheduling
Many students who seek out child care degrees or certificate programs also choose a specialty. Most commonly, those specialties include disciplines such as special education or school administration. While a specialty or degree focus isn't necessarily required, it can show employers that you're especially invested in your area of interest.
Benefits of an Online Degree Program
While traditional degrees are available for child care workers, online degrees are an increasingly popular option. In most online degree programs, students are able to pursue their education without reporting to a physical classroom or commuting to school. For working parents and busy professionals, online education is often the only way earning a degree is possible.
Online child care programs lean heavily on emerging technologies within the field of education. Schools that offer online programs use online message boards, chat rooms, and conferences to both impart their lessons and allow for peer-to-peer collaboration. Because of the online nature of these programs, students who earn web-based childcare degrees are often able to complete their studies at any time or place of their choosing.
For those who have self-discipline, patience, and a lifelong motivation to work with the youngest and most impressionable citizens, online degrees in child care provide excellent options.
Careers in Child Care
A variety of promising career paths await individuals who graduate with a degree or certificate in child care. The following chart offers a snapshot of the most popular careers for graduates, along with relevant employment and wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Expected Job Growth
(2014 - 2024)
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||107,980||$78,690||14.2%|
|Special Education Teachers, Preschool||28,140||$56,990||11.2%|
|Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education||385,550||$33,300||10.5%|
|Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education||1,392,660||$59,020||7.4%|
|Special Education Teachers, Kindergarten and Elementary School||190,530||$60,090||7.4%|
As you can see, online degrees in child care can open the door to a wide range of opportunities in schools, daycare centers, and private child care environments. If you want to learn more about these programs, request information from any of the schools listed below.
Childcare Workers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/childcare-workers.htm
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm
May 2014 National Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/preschool-and-childcare-center-directors.htm
Preschool Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm
Special Education Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm