What you need to know about a career as a child care center director

November 27, 2017 · 4 min read · By ASU Online

Are you interested in pursuing a career in early childhood education, but looking for a position that mixes working with young children with management? A career as a child care center director could be the right path for you.


Individuals in this role do more than just oversee the administrative day-to-day operations of day care centers, preschools and other child care facilities. Working with children and parents are other essential responsibilities of a child care center director, along with designing curriculums, preparing budgets and directing, supervising and leading staff.

Being responsible for all aspects of their program, child care center directors also must adhere to institutional regulations and state day care licensing provisions, all while ensuring their services meet the expectations of both parents and children. This requires you to be aware of current trends in early childhood education and have the right background and knowledge to successfully manage all aspects of the job – making your program as rewarding as possible for all involved.

Earning a master’s degree can help you with this. The specialized skills and advanced knowledge you need to excel in working with young children are at the center of the fully online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Early Childhood Education) program at ASU Online. Coursework covers early childhood pedagogy, community collaboration, technology, administration, policy analysis and advocacy, and has a required course load of either 30 credit hours or 45 credit hours, depending on the offering. Overall, the online Master of Education program prepares you to work successfully with children from infancy through third grade.

Two young students smile in classroom

A typical day for a child care center director

Directors need to visit classrooms to check on students or activities to ensure the facility provides a safe and educational environment, but much of the job focuses on administrative work. This can include evaluating finances or managing the budget, brainstorming and implementing marketing campaigns to promote your facility, meeting with parents or monitoring services to ensure licensing standards are met. This role is also responsible for taking prospective and new families on tours of your facility.

The director is also responsible for managing faculty, which includes hiring, supervising and evaluating faculty while also advising them on curriculum and activities. It’s also up to you to provide professional development and training opportunities for staff.

You might also represent your child care center during the accreditation process. Fewer than 10 percent of preschools have accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which is the standard in evaluating a preschool for quality of care. Facilities pursuing accreditation go through a rigorous process, and parents may look for this when assessing their quality.


A closer look at the professional landscape of a child care center director

Geography is the biggest factor affecting wages for child care center directors, followed by employer and years of experience. According to Payscale, about three-fifths of child care center directors have more than 10 years of experience in early childhood education. Job experience combined with a bachelor’s degree or higher in a relevant field should give you the best prospects for finding a job in this market.

The median wage for this position, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is close to $46,000, and the majority of those employed as child care center directors claim high levels of job satisfaction.

Employment opportunities in this area are projected to grow by 7 percent from 2014 through 2024, about the same pace as all occupations, according to the BLS. This growth is due to the expected increase in the number of preschool-aged children, leading to a greater number of working parents who need help caring for their children. Also influencing demand for child care centers, and thus directors, is the increasing perceived importance of early childhood education.


Becoming a child care center director

Having a combination of education, work experience and refined skills is important for child care center directors. Educational requirements generally include a bachelor’s degree, associate degree or Childcare Development Associate certification, although a graduate degree such as a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction can differentiate you from your peers. Job experience is important when pursuing management positions, and it’s expected that you will have at least one to two years of relevant experience in early childhood education when applying to become a child care center director.

Specific skills that can help you succeed as a child care center director include:

  • Business skills which help you to expertly operate your child care center
  • Communication skills to effectively convey information to staff and parents, especially about a child’s progress
  • Interpersonal skills to develop good relationships with parents, children and staff
  • Leadership skills to inspire staff to work diligently while assisting you in enforcing rules and regulations
  • Organizational skills so you can multitask when several situations require your attention at once

Learn more about your potential career as a child care center director

A career in early childhood education doesn’t necessarily mean teaching is your only option. Positions are available in management and administration that enable you to create the programs that can inspire children to love learning. Whatever role you choose to pursue, you can learn more about expanding your qualifications through the online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Early Childhood Education) program from Arizona State University. This degree focuses on specialized skills and advanced knowledge to help you seek a range of careers in early childhood education.


Manager works with staff on laptop and tablet


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