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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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,
|Individual and family services||47,500|
|Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and
|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.
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.
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 on childcare centers, visit
For information about early childhood education, visit
For more information about professional credentials, visit