Early childcare and preschool teachers and workers provide vital early childhood care and education services for millions of the Nation's preschool children, from birth to age five.
As the composition of the American workforce and the demands placed upon it have changed, the need for safe, quality, and affordable early childcare and preschool education has also grown. The demand for professional, highly skilled workers and managers in early childhood care and education - especially at center-based programs - has never been greater.
Early childcare and preschool services are provided through two main approaches: Center-based programs and family childcare. Center-based settings include child daycare centers, preschools, Head Start programs, and may be either nonprofit or for-profit organizations. Family childcare settings involve the care of children in private homes for a fee. Whatever the setting, the early childcare and education industry is governed by laws and regulations in each state, including requirements for education and training.
Career and employment opportunities for individuals in the early childcare and preschool industry should remain plentiful throughout most of the United States, but especially in urban and suburban communities. At present, this industry provides over 800,000 wage and salary jobs annually, plus self-employment and unpaid family worker opportunities for another 460,000 individuals.
Within the early childcare and preschool sector, the majority of employment opportunities are concentrated in three occupations:
- Preschool teachers;
- Teacher assistants; and
- Childcare workers.
A more limited number of job openings are available for early childhood and preschool center managers as well as office and administrative support workers, building cleaning workers, cooks, and bus drivers.