Requirements for Becoming a Day Care Worker

Updated March 10, 2023

Working at a day care facility can be a great way to start a career as a child care provider because it provides you with the chance to learn how to work with young children. Day care workers most often work with very young students, so their job requires strong patience and communication skills. If you're interested in pursuing a role as a day care worker, it's important to understand the necessary requirements you need to fulfill. In this article, we explore what a career as a day care worker is like and discuss the requirements for becoming one.

Related: Guide To Becoming a Day Care Teacher

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What is a day care worker?

A day care worker is a child care provider who supervises and teaches young students, typically from ages 1 to 4. Day care employees are primarily responsible for providing guidance to the students they teach and ensuring their safety throughout each day. Because of this, they usually have excellent attention to detail, patience and teaching skills that can help them make each day as beneficial for their students as possible. Day care employees can work at day care centers, community centers and other facilities that offer child care for young children who do not yet attend preschool.

Related: Learn About Being a Child Care Provider

What do day care employees do?

Day care employees can have many responsibilities that relate to supervising and instructing young students. Many people refer to day care employees as day care teachers because much of their job involves teaching children lessons on basic concepts like sharing, personal hygiene and different forms of social interaction. A day care employee can also guide their students through activities that can entertain them and support their development, such as solving puzzles and constructing craft projects.

Day care employees typically spend a lot of time monitoring their students' progress as well, which can help them design future lesson plans and allow them to discuss their students' learning with their parents.

Related: How To Prepare for a Day Care Interview (With Tips and Sample Questions)

Salary and job outlook for day care employees

The national average salary for day care teachers in the United States is currently $26,231 per year. Indeed also shows that most day care teachers earn additional benefits, such as paid time off, professional development assistance and tuition reimbursement.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of people employed as child care workers, such as day care employees, is predicted to grow by 2% from 2019 to 2029. This rate of growth is slower than most related occupations. The BLS attributes the moderate growth to an increase of parents who start working from home and need help with daily child care tasks. They also state that the widely recognized importance of childhood education could result in more day care facilities and preschools.

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Requirements for becoming a day care employee

Here are some requirements you can fulfill to become a day care employee:


In terms of education, most day cares require employees to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Having your high school diploma or GED can confirm to a potential employer that you have a foundation of the basic subjects that you might have to teach once you get a job in a day care facility. These credentials can also verify your age for potential employers, as most day care facilities require employees to be at least 18 years old, which is the minimum age when students typically graduate from high school.

While a college degree is often optional for day care employees, some employers might require a college degree for more advanced positions teaching specialized subjects or large class sizes.


After completing any education requirements, consider gaining some experience in child care. Though it isn't always a requirement, employers often prefer candidates who have some relevant experience. Working in a day care may involve basic elements of child care as well as more advanced skills, like teaching subjects and leading structured activities, and obtaining experience can help you gain these skills.

One way that you can earn relevant experience is by working as a teacher's assistant in a preschool, where you can learn the best practices for instructing young students in a classroom setting. You might also take on some independent clients for child care by babysitting or working as a nanny, which can prepare you to spend extended periods of time entertaining and supervising young children.

Related: How To Write a Child Care Provider Resume

Licenses and certifications

As day care employees work closely with young children, it's crucial to have the correct licenses and certifications to make sure you have the training you need to succeed in the field and keep every child you work with safe. The specific requirements for licensing and certification can vary depending on which state you live in, so it might be helpful to research your state's requirements before applying for certification or licensure.

One of the most popular sources of certification for day care employees is the ChildCare Education Institute. They offer the Child Development Associate (CDA) certification, which confirms a holder's expertise in early childhood education, business practices and student services. Aspiring day care employees can also find certification with the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation organization, which offers the Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) certification.

Driver's license

Many day care facilities ask their employees to have valid driver's licenses before they hire them. This is because employees at a day care facility might encounter circumstances that require them to travel off-site during work, such as if their classroom runs out of a certain material or if their facility offers a catered lunch that they might need to pick up.

Another reason day care employees often need a valid driver's license is so that they can help respond to emergency situations where they might need to bring one of their students to the doctor's office or emergency room.

Additional requirements

While additional requirements can vary depending on the day care facility where you work, there are usually a few more steps that day care employees need to take before they start working in a facility. For example, some facilities might mandate that their day care teachers complete training in first aid and CPR so that they can effectively respond to potentially dangerous situations and keep their students safe. A day care might also require their employees to undergo background checks to verify that they are legally eligible to work with children.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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