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

Duties

Preschool and childcare center directors typically do the following:

  • Supervise preschool teachers and childcare workers
  • Hire and train new staff members
  • Provide training and professional development opportunities for staff
  • Establish policies and communicate them to staff and parents
  • Develop educational programs and set educational standards
  • Help staff resolve conflicts between children
  • Assist staff in communicating with parents
  • Meet with parents and staff to discuss students’ progress
  • Establish budgets and set fees for programs
  • Ensure 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, directors own the facilities, so they decide how to operate the facilities.

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

In addition, some preschools and childcare centers, such as Head Start programs, receive state and federal funding. Directors of these schools and centers must ensure that their programs, staff, and facilities meet state and federal guidelines. For example, they must ensure that the staff meets the educational requirements set by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Is This the Right Career for You?

Not sure how to choose the best career for you? Now, you can predict which career will satisfy you in the long term by taking a scientifically validated career test. Gain the clarity and confidence that comes from understanding your strengths, talents, and preferences, and knowing which path is truly right for you.

Take The Test

 

 

 

 

 

Work Environment

Preschool and childcare center directors held about 63,800 jobs in 2012.

The industries that employed the most preschool and childcare center directors in 2012 were as follows:

Child day care services 54%
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 17
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 12
Individual and family services 4

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 or speak to preschool teachers or childcare workers.

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

Work Schedules

Preschool and childcare center directors generally work full time. When childcare centers are open, a director must always be on staff, so directors and assistant directors stagger their schedules to ensure someone is always available.

Education and Training

Education requirements range from a high school diploma to a college degree. Most states require these directors to have experience in early childhood education. Some states or employers require preschool and childcare center directors to have a nationally recognized certification such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) certification.

Education

Most states require preschool and childcare center directors to have at least a high school diploma, but some require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. These degree programs teach students about child development, strategies to teach young children, and how to observe and document children’s progress. Employers may prefer candidates who have a degree in early childhood education, or at least some postsecondary education in early childhood education.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Most states require preschool and childcare center directors to have experience in early childhood education. The amount of necessary experience varies by state.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Many states require childcare centers, including those in private homes, to be licensed. To qualify for licensure, staff must pass a background check, have a complete record of immunizations, and meet a minimum training requirement. Some states require staff to have certifications in CPR and First Aid.

Some states and employers require preschool and childcare center directors to have a nationally recognized certification. Most often, states require the Child Development Associate (CDA) certification offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. Obtaining the CDA certification requires coursework, experience in the field, and being observed while working with children.

Some states recognize the Child Care Professional (CCP) designation offered by the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation. Candidates for the CCP must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, have experience in the field, take courses in early childhood education, and pass an exam.

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 $43,950 in May 2012. 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 $27,930, and the top 10 percent earned more than $84,340.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for preschool and childcare center directors in the top four industries in which these directors worked were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; state, local,
and private
$68,410
Individual and family services 47,500
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and
similar organizations
43,240
Child day care services 40,880

Preschool and childcare center directors generally work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week. When childcare centers are open, a director must always be on staff, so directors and assistant directors stagger their schedules to ensure someone is always available.

Job Outlook

Employment of preschool and childcare center directors is projected to grow 17 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.

Working parents will continue to need help caring for their children. The number of children who are of preschool age is increasing, leading to a greater need for childcare and increasing the demand for preschool and childcare center directors.

In addition, there is a continued focus on the importance of early childhood education, specifically preschool. Early childhood education is widely recognized as important for a child’s intellectual and emotional development. As the number of preschool programs grows, the need for preschool and childcare center directors will increase as well.

Job Prospects

Workers with formal postsecondary education, such as an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, should have better job prospects than those with a high school diploma. Those with a bachelor’s degree should have the best prospects.

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

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.

I would like to cite this page for a report. Who is the author?

There is no published author for this page. Please use citation guidelines for webpages without an author available. 

I think I have found an error or innacurate information on this page. Who should I contact?

This information is taken directly from the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Truity does not editorialize the information, including changing information that our readers believe is inaccurate, because we consider the BLS to be the authority on occupational information. However, if you would like to correct a typo or other technical error, you can reach us at help@truity.com.

I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. We recommend the Career Personality Profiler assessment ($29), the Holland Code assessment ($19), or the Photo Career Quiz (free).