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A career in childcare and early education is rewarding and full of variety, giving you the opportunity to help young children grow and flourish, as they go from baby to pre-schooler.

Types of roles

There are many different career paths in childcare and early education, offering opportunities to try different things, develop new skills and progress. Here are some of the main roles you could consider:

Nursery Workers help babies and children up to 5 years old to develop and learn in a safe and supportive setting. You can become a nursery worker through gaining a qualification from a college course, an apprenticeship or applying directly.

Nursery Nurses and Assistants care and provide early education for children from birth up to seven years in day or residential nurseries, children’s homes and maternity units. The majority of employees in this role will hold an advanced apprenticeship or Level 3 qualifications (A levels or equivalent).

Nursery Managers run early years childcare centres, providing day care and early education for babies and young children from birth to 5 years of age. Many people start as a nursery worker, then move into a management role. You will usually need at least two years’ experience working in a childcare setting, or you can apply direct with a university degree in child development or other related college qualifications.

Childminders care for babies, toddlers and children, supporting their learning and development. You must register with Ofsted (external website) and be subject to a Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS). The role gives you plenty of opportunities for flexibility, as it involves working from your own home and you can set your hours to suit yourself.

Benefits of working in childcare

The opportunity to positively influence children’s development, teach them useful skills as they prepare for school

A wide variety of roles, from entry to advanced level

A structured career path with opportunities to progress

A long term career

Opportunities to specialise

Ability to work flexibility or become self-employed

A role that allows you to make a difference to the local community.


Desirable skills

Working with children requires a versatile set of skills and abilities. Some roles require experience, which you can gain from studying, volunteering, or simply being a parent or grandparent.

The following personal attributes would be also an asset:

  • Caring attitude
  • Patience, and a sense of fun.
  • A creative and imaginative disposition
  • Ability to plan and deliver activities that are interesting to children

Further Links

The National Careers Service provides more detailed information, including salaries, on job roles in childcare and early education. For example:

Nursery worker (external website)

Nursery manager (external website)

Childminder (external website)

You can find out about the various qualifications required and learning routes you could take on the Learning Pathway (external website).

Adult Skills Learning Offer (external website) – if you haven’t yet achieved a level 3 qualification, you may be eligible for free training with opportunities in this sector and others.

If you are aged between 16-19 you may be able eligible to undertake a T-Level (external website) in this sector or others.

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