Preschool and childcare center directors supervise and lead staffs, design program plans, oversee daily activities, and prepare budgets. They are responsible for all aspects of their center’s program.

Duties

Preschool and childcare center directors typically do the following:

  • Supervise preschool teachers and childcare workers
  • Hire and train new staff members
  • Provide professional development opportunities for staff
  • Establish policies and communicate them to staff and parents
  • Develop educational programs and standards
  • Maintain instructional excellence
  • Assist staff in communicating with parents and children
  • Meet with parents and staff to discuss students’ progress
  • Prepare budgets and allocate program funds
  • Ensure that facilities are maintained and cleaned according to state regulations

Some preschools and childcare centers are independently owned and operated. In these facilities, directors must follow the instructions and guidelines of the owner. Sometimes, the directors are the owners, so they decide how to operate them.

Other preschools and childcare centers are part of a national chain or franchise. The director of a chain or franchise must ensure that the facility meets the parent organization’s standards and regulations.

In addition, some preschools and childcare centers, such as Head Start programs, receive state and federal funding. Directors need to follow the requirements set by Department of Health and Human Services for program, staff, and facilities. 

Work Environment

Preschool and childcare center directors held about 66,700 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of preschool and childcare center directors were as follows:

Child day care services 63%
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations                   14
Self-employed workers 8
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 7

Although preschool and childcare center directors work in schools and childcare centers, they spend most of their day in an office. They also visit classrooms to check on students, speak to preschool teachers or childcare workers, and meet with parents.

Preschool and childcare center directors may find working in an early childhood educational environment rewarding, but they also have significant responsibilities. Coordinating and interacting with staff, parents, and children may be fast paced and stimulating but also stressful.

Work Schedules

Preschool and childcare center directors generally work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week. They are on the job while the childcare center is open and may work early in the morning or late in the evening. In large facilities, the director and assistant directors may stagger their schedules to ensure that someone is always onsite.

Education and Training

A bachelor’s degree and experience in early childhood education are typically required to become a preschool and childcare center director. However, educational requirements vary. Additionally, some employers require these directors to have a nationally recognized credential, such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.

Education

Most states require preschool and childcare center directors to have at least a bachelor’s degree, but educational requirements vary by state. Employers may prefer candidates who have a degree, or at least some postsecondary coursework, in early childhood education. These programs teach child development, provide strategies for instructing young children, and show how to observe and document children’s progress.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Most positions for preschool and childcare center directors require several years of experience in early childhood education. The length of experience required varies by job.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

States may require childcare centers, including those in private homes, to be licensed. To qualify for licensure, staff must pass a background check and meet a minimum training requirement. Some states have more requirements, such as requiring staff to have certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid.

Some employers have additional requirements, such as the CDA credential offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. Candidates need to pay a fee, take coursework, obtain experience in the field, and be observed while working with children. This credential needs to be renewed every 3 years.

Personality and Interests

Preschool and childcare center directors typically have an interest in the Helping, Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Helping or Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a preschool and childcare center director, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Preschool and childcare center directors should also possess the following specific qualities:

Business skills. Many preschool and childcare center directors own childcare centers and need to be able to manage their business effectively.

Communication skills. Preschool and childcare center directors need to inform parents and colleagues about the progress of the children. They need good writing and speaking skills to convey this information effectively.

Interpersonal skills. Preschool and childcare center directors must be able to develop good relationships with parents, children, and co-workers.

Leadership skills. Preschool and childcare center directors supervise staff, so they need good leadership skills to inspire staff to work diligently. They also must enforce rules and regulations.

Organizational skills. Directors need to maintain clear records about students and staff. In addition, they must be able to multitask when multiple people or situations require their attention.

Pay

The median annual wage for preschool and childcare center directors was $48,210 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,850, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $82,590.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for preschool and childcare center directors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private $62,120
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations                       51,990
Child day care services 46,460

Preschool and childcare center directors generally work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week. They are on the job while the childcare center is open and may work early in the morning or late in the evening. In large facilities, the director and assistant directors may stagger their schedules to ensure that someone is always onsite.

Job Outlook

Employment of preschool and childcare center directors is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.

The number of children under the age of 5 is expected to increase, although their share of the overall population should remain constant. As a result, a greater number of working parents will need the help of childcare centers. However, the rising cost of childcare and the increasing number of stay-at-home parents may slow the growth rate of the child day care services industry.

The demand for preschools, and consequently the directors who manage them, should remain strong due to the fact that early childhood education is widely recognized as important for a child’s intellectual and emotional development.

For More Information

For more information on childcare centers, visit

Child Care Aware

For information about early childhood education, visit

National Association for the Education of Young Children

For more information about professional credentials, visit

Council for Professional Recognition

National Early Childhood Program Accreditation

CareerOneStop

For a career video on preschool and childcare center directors, visit

Preschool and childcare center directors

 

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FAQ

Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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