You may be thinking, “well, I’m good with kids” and have found yourself googling potential career pathways. There are various opportunities available in the early childhood education sector, as long as you have drive, persistence and proper training. Early childhood education targets a significant and impressionable time in children’s lives to set them up with the building blocks to achieve success throughout life. In this article, we explore the industry and potential career pathways in the field.
What is the purpose of early childhood education?
Early childhood education focuses on developing and nourishing positive learning habits and social skills in children up to eight years old,. Research displays that this time can be critical to developing important pathways within the brain.
Early childhood education takes advantage of safe, structured social environments to enhance these pathways positively. By strengthening these foundations, evidence shows higher literacy and numeracy in primary school and a greater level of contentment and cooperation in the home. Early childhood education also offers a safe and healthy environment for children whilst encouraging community values within the local parent network.
Benefits of early childhood education
Early childhood education allows children to develop various skills and values through imaginative play, curated activities, healthy meals and a clean, supervised environment.
Focal skills taught in the learning environment include:
- Language/Social - developed through storytelling, socialising and singing. These activities promote active listening and comprehension skills.
- Creativity - Developed through art, music, dance and playtime. These activities promote flexible thinking and imagination.
- Math/Science - developed through puzzles, counting games, toy bricks, basic animal lessons and playing with water/sand. These activities promote problem-solving, critical thinking and develop an understanding of quantity and form.
The Abecedarian Project shows that children who have received early childhood education have greater consistency in academic success. Additionally, the Australian Early Development Census suggests that these benefits can extend well past primary school to a greater success rate in completing a Higher School Certificate. The HighScope Perry Preschool Study has displayed similar results. Their research shows that early childhood education can positively influence a child’s future financial success. In this study, adults who had received early childhood education reported earnings of $2000 more per month on average than those who had not been enrolled.
Overall, early childhood education is beneficial in cultivating values of cooperation, respect, teamwork, concentration and patience through fun activities.
How to become an early childhood educator
Becoming an early childhood educatorcan seem a bit daunting at first, but congratulations on already taking the first step. When considering a career in early childhood education, it is vital to do your research. Reflect on your skills and personality and how this aligns with working with children. It’s also essential to research wages and employment opportunities within your locality to ensure that you have reasonable expectations upon receiving your qualification. You may also qualify for financial aid when considering studying, so it’s crucial to weigh up your options and get into contact with an educational advisor. South West TAFE offers course advice through their Skills and Jobs Centre.
Once you understand what pathways and opportunities are available to you, it’s simply a matter of pursuing your Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. This qualification is the minimum course requirement to apply for early childhood education and care employment. You will also need a Working with Children Check.
Whilst this is the minimum requirement, you may also consider further education pathways.
Early childhood educator training
At South West TAFE, we provide various pathways into early childhood education. These courses are all offered as Victorian government-subsidised training for eligible students, making the courses part of the Free TAFE and JobTrainer program. These courses include:
- Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care (Traineeship)
This course is studied over a period of two years and is available for commencement at any time. This certificate prepares you to care for children up to 12 years old through workplace training, assessments, and online delivery.
This course also includes a First Aid unit. Requirements for entry include being a minimum of 17 years of age, a Working with Children Check and employment as a trainee within a regulated early learning centre for a minimum of 13 hours a week.
- Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care – on campus
This course is studied over 10 months and is available for commencement at the beginning and middle of the year. This course provides the same learning milestones as the traineeship.
This is an on campus course that includes attending classes two days a week and regular placement in an early childhood education and care service.
Instead of a traineeship, it includes a minimum practical placement of 150 hours arranged by South West TAFE. Requirements for entry are the same as the traineeship qualification, excluding employment requirements.
- Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care (Traineeship)
This course is completed over a period of three years, with commencement available at any time. This diploma is an all-encompassing course preparing students for a position in staff supervision and management in early childhood education.
This course is completed on a flexible timetable through workplace training. Requirements for entry include completing a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, a Working with Children Check, Police Check and employment within the early childhood education and care industry for a minimum of 13 hours a week.
You are also required to complete 15 units: 12 core and 3 electives before commencement, 13 of these are done in Certificate III. This course offers a pathway to further education with continued study at Deakin University for a Bachelor of Education.
- Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care- on campus
This course is completed over 18 months, with commencement available in the middle of the year. This course has the same learning objectives as the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care (Traineeship).
However, instead of a traineeship, this course includes a minimum of 240 hours of practical placement arranged by South West TAFE. Requirements for entry are the same as the traineeship qualification, excluding employment requirements. This course offers a pathway to further education with continued study at Deakin University for a Bachelor of Education.
Early childhood educator skills
Becoming an early childhood educator requires more than education; it requires the right attitude and skill set. To pursue a career in early childhood education, you need to display strong skills in time management, creativity, communication, teamwork, patience and flexibility. These skills and an energetic temperament with the willingness to consistently upskill through self-directed learning is essential.
- Time management and flexibility are of great importance due to the planning and management skills required to guide and run activities for children.
- Creativity comes into play when developing these activities and running them in a way that engages children in meaningful learning.
- Communication and teamwork are vital between workers and parents as well as workers and their team.
- Patience - well, patience is just a given!
Now, all that’s between you and your future career is the drive to get started!
Job outcomes in early childhood education
So you have the qualification and the skills, but what do you do with them? Well, luckily, there are plenty of opportunities! The beauty of early childhood education is that there will always be future generations to teach, so there’s no shortage of work! In Australia, childcare employs more than 150,000 people and has grown more than 17 per cent during the last five years. Estimates show that in the next five years we can see a growth of more than 30,100 jobs in childcare.
There are a variety of career paths you can pursue, including:
- Child care educator
- Kindergarten assistant
- After school care
- Early childhood teacher
- Independent early childhood education and care business operator
The opportunities are numerous; it’s simply a matter of looking and then applying, so how do you go about that?
How to write a resume for an early childhood education and care job
A good starting point for your resume is to take whatever soft skills you think you have from the above list and run with them. Soft skills are traits or values rather than qualification driven skills such as knowing how to use a piece of software. Qualification driven skills are known as hard skills. Carefully read and highlight keywords and soft skills desired within the job listing you are considering. It’s vital that you expand on and address these things in your resume, especially if you have minimal experience.
When writing your resume, it can be helpful to add an objective statement to display your goals and achievements succinctly. Your objective statement should be located at the top of the page to increase the likelihood that they don’t just get skimmed over. In a competitive employment scene, every word must count.
Once you’ve summarised your goals and achievements, you can flesh out your qualifications and previous work experience. This work experience doesn’t need to be primarily childcare focused if you’re new to the industry. The important part is how you frame your prior experience, take something you have done in the past and adapt it to the appropriate soft skills required.
It’s essential to have your formal qualifications such as your education and First Aid certificates on your resume but do not rely on this alone. By expanding on your own experiences and values, you show attentiveness to the job listing and examples of your performance in relevant areas. A Certificate III is required for the job, showing it is crucial, but it will not make you stand out from other applicants.
Finally, make sure to include your contact details and do an overall proofread and edit to ensure proper spelling and grammar. Consider getting a second opinion from the Skills and Jobs Centre or simply a friend or family member.
Starting your own early childhood education and care business
Amongst the many career opportunities available to you, you may consider pursuing financial independence and entrepreneurship by starting your own early childhood education and care business. By establishing yourself as a business owner in early childhood education and care, you can develop further self-directed education to expand into a business. A childcare business also offers the availability of personal childcare and an additional source of income.
Owning an early childhood education and care business means an extra level of responsibility and research to make informed decisions, such as organising a rental space and purchasing supplies. An early childhood education and care business requires supplies for hygiene, food, activities and general childcare. Things such as food will require extra planning and consideration for food safety requirements, dietary requirements and healthy eating.
There is also an added element of planning for developing employment contracts and client agreements to enforce policies regarding services and penalty fees. A comprehensive understanding and attention to detail for any required licensing and financial plans is vital in ensuring the success of any business venture. Knowledge of the applications and licenses necessary to legally run an early childhood education and care business is also crucial. The diploma qualification will help to set you up for an understanding of this multifaceted endeavour.
A career in childhood education, regardless of the pathway you choose, is a fulfilling endeavour, with your contribution to future generations preparing them for a successful and happy learning experience. Through research, consideration and ultimately your own education, you can begin on a pathway to providing education for countless children. If you are an energetic and driven individual with the right skillset (and resume), there are a myriad of opportunities available to you in the future and potential business ownership if you so desire. The sky’s the limit, and you’ve already taken your first steps forward!