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Top Careers in Child Development

There are many career opportunities in the early education industry. Learn more about the best careers in child development.

Top Careers in Child Development

Top Careers in Child Development

A degree in early childhood education can lead you to a rewarding career path working with children and having an impact on their daily lives. There are various jobs to consider in the early education and child development fields based on your specific skill set, interests, years of experience, and any specialized education or training you may have. 

Read on to learn more about the best jobs for early childhood education professionals.

Jobs for early childhood education professionals

Early childhood education offers a diverse range of career opportunities for professionals passionate about nurturing the development of young children. From classroom teaching positions to administrative roles, this field provides numerous pathways to make a significant impact on the lives of children and their families.

This section explores the various job roles available in early childhood education, highlighting the essential responsibilities and qualifications for each position.

Preschool teacher

A preschool teacher helps develop a child’s social-emotional, language, cognitive, and physical skills to prepare them for kindergarten. Some of the responsibilities include:

  • Planning lessons and writing curriculum
  • Organizing snack and nap time
  • Maintaining clear communication with families
  • Guiding children to develop their capabilities
  • Tracking children’s progress
  • Keeping the classroom clean

You’ll need an associate degree in education or a related field, plus at least two years of experience. Credentials, like the Preschool Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or certification in child and infant CPR, can increase your chances of landing the job. Check with your state’s requirements for becoming a teacher to learn how to earn your teaching certification. 

According to 2023 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, preschool teachers can earn a median annual wage between $37,000 to $45,000 per year.

Preschool teacher in music class shaking a tambourine with young girl

Source

Childcare center director

If you’re interested in the management side of the early education industry, consider being a childcare center director. Directors work less with children day-to-day, but instead focus on the following: 

  • Supervising staff
  • Overseeing administrative duties and setting the curriculum 
  • Maintaining the facility operations in compliance with state and local guidelines
  • Managing budgets

The minimum requirements for a childcare center director are often a bachelor’s degree and more than five years of experience in an early childhood education setting.

In some instances, childcare center directors own the schools they manage. Childcare directors in the United States earn an average annual salary of $61,000.

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Early childhood education consultant

Early childhood education consultants provide their expertise on various topics related to running an early education program. Many program directors or owners will refer to consultants for additional support in areas such as:

  • Updating a curriculum
  • Planning a program
  • Providing training for teachers and other staff
  • Facilitating contract negotiations between the government and private sector

Early childhood education consultants often must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in child development or early education and more than five years of experience. Additionally, these professionals usually have a valid teaching license within their state. 

According to 2024 data from Glassdoor, early childhood education consultants can earn an average of $51,000 to $76,000 per year.

Behavioral analysts 

Behavioral analysts create treatment plans that improve a child’s behavior and communication skills. Responsibilities of a behavioral analyst include:

  • Observing the child’s behavior 
  • Talking to families and teachers about the recommended treatment plan
  • Assessing the child’s progress 
  • Keeping the child’s records for future reference

A master’s degree in behavior analysis, psychology, or education is needed to qualify for this job. One must also pass a behavior analyst exam. Each state has different qualifications and licensing laws for these types of jobs. 

The average salary for a behavioral analyst is $75,000 per year in the United States.

Child psychologist

Child psychologists work with children suffering from behavioral, mental, and emotional disorders. Being a child psychologist allows one to work with children outside the classroom. Some of the responsibilities of a child psychologist include:

  • Assessing children with mental issues and suggesting treatment
  • Writing a detailed report of evaluations
  • Educating families and teachers on how to handle children with mental issues
  • Addressing issues such as bullying and other mental health issues
  • Treat children who suffer from things like trauma, stress, depression, and anxiety

A bachelor’s degree, master's, and eventually, a Ph.D. in psychology, child psychology, or a related field is necessary to qualify as a child psychologist. It is also mandatory to complete one year of internship and pass the national licensing exam to become a licensed child psychologist. Check out your specific state’s licensing requirements here

Child psychologists can earn an average salary of $87,000 per year.

Childcare worker

Childcare workers take care of children in daycare centers. Typically, childcare workers:

  • Tend to children's basic needs such as preparing and serving meals and changing diapers
  • Record attendance and write daily reports
  • Supervise children's playtime and activities
  • Develop a schedule for children to follow throughout the day
  • Assist with lesson planning
  • Maintain a clean and safe learning environment

Requirements to become a childcare worker can vary by state and the size of the childcare program. It is often recommended to have experience working with children and relevant education and training qualifications.

The average salary for a childcare worker in the U.S. ranges between approximately $22,000 and $43,000 per year. 

Early intervention specialist

Early intervention specialists assess and help children who have developmental delays and disabilities that might cause them to fall behind. They connect families to early intervention services and asses areas such as:

  • Cognitive skills (problem-solving, thinking, reasoning)
  • Communication skills (listening, talking, expressing themselves)
  • Self-help skills (eating, toileting, dressing)
  • Physical skills (walking, reaching, drawing, crawling)
  • Social and emotional skills (interacting with others, forming relationships, regulating emotions)

Their main responsibility is to help children learn important skills to help them catch up in their development. 

Early intervention specialists can earn an average salary of $48,000 per year.

Bottom line

There are many career options to consider with a degree in early education or child development. The field is full of meaningful jobs that allow you to impact children at the most critical stage of their lives. The expertise and passion you bring to your daily work will benefit the children and families you interact with, setting a solid foundation for their future success.


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