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Early Childhood & Childcare Courses

Studying a childcare course

If you are considering a career in early childhood education, you will first need to study the relevant childcare course. There are several levels of qualifications to choose from, each teaching the graduate a different degree of skills and knowledge. Before committing to any option, it is important to identify what level of study suits you best, and what career opportunities will that qualification allow you to pursue. We take a look at the different types of childcare courses available and how they might help you establish or develop your desired career in childcare.

The childcare industry

Being able to pass skills and knowledge to the developing minds of young children is a rewarding experience. And as the demand for childcare facilities increases, those with a passion for teaching and the relevant childcare qualifications, are set for a long and fulfilling career. If you are patient, persistent, and enjoy being around young children, then you should consider studying a child care course, and becoming a qualified childcare professional.

Child care is one of the fastest growing industries in Australia. This industry has no shortage of jobs for qualified candidates and offers flexible career choices. According to the Job Outlook government site, over the next 5 years, childcare employment opportunities will grow up to 41%, creating potential job openings for hopeful candidates.

Volunteering at an after school play group

What qualifications do you need?

Other than having a natural affinity for children and a genuine desire to nurture their skills, child care workers in Australia at a minimum, be working towards a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. Yes, that means you don’t actually need to have completed the course, however it is a legal requirement, and a childcare centre will not employ otherwise. Those looking to take on more senior positions must obtain a diploma or bachelor’s course. Here’s a brief look at what early childhood courses you can study:

Certificate 3 in Childcare

Course length:  6-12 months.
Institution types: RTO, TAFE and some universities.
Cost:  $200 – $3000 (incl. government subsidies)

A Cert 3 is the minimum requirement to gain employment as an approved early childhood worker. This is recommended for those looking to begin as an Assistant Educator with a registered childcare employer. You will be taught what it means to provide care and education for babies, toddlers and young children. After commencing the course, you may immediately begin working at a childcare facility.

Top providers:

  • TAFE Queensland
  • Foundation Education
  • Practical Outcomes Early Childhood Education
  • Chrisholm
  • SELMAR Institute of Education

Employment opportunities:

  • Assistant Educator in child care centres
  • Assistant Educator in long day care
  • Family Day Care Tutor
  • Babysitter or Nanny

Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care

Course length: 12-18 months.
Institution types: RTO, TAFE and some universities.
Cost: $1500 – $9000 (incl. government subsidies).

This Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care will help you find a balance of stimulating mental and playtime activities to help the children you are teaching develop their mind and bodies. You will  learn everything of a Certificate III holder, but will go more in-depth into the National Quality Standards and EYLF. Upon completion you will have learnt how to educate and engage with children of all ages in line with government standards.

Top providers:

  • Selmar Institute of Education
  • Practical Outcomes Early Childhood Education
  • Envirotech Education
  • Foundation Education

Employment opportunities:

Once you have successfully completed this course, you will be fully qualified to care for children in an early childhood care facility. You can even take on more senior positions, or manage your own childcare business.

  • Early Childhood Educator
  • Room Leader / Supervisor
  • Education Leader
  • Childcare Centre Director
  • Centre Owner

Bachelor of Early Childhood Education

Course length:  4 years.
Institution types: Universities and some TAFE
Cost: $25,000 – $40,000.

The Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) is a four year teaching degree usually completed at a university. This course is solely focused on preparing students for a career as an Early Childhood Teacher or Kindergarten Teacher. The learning will be a combination of practical and theoretical based assessment. On completion of this course, you will graduate with expertise that is built on a strong sense of social justice and gain insight into the early years of a child.

Employment opportunities:

Bachelor graduates are deemed qualified to teach in both public and private sector pre-schools in all territories and states of Australia.

  • Early Childhood Teacher / Kindergarten Teacher
  • Childcare Centre Director
  • Centre Owner

Top providers

  • Deakin University
  • La Trobe University
  • Queensland University of Technology

Course Costs

Courses fees can range significantly between education providers. Childcare courses delivered by universities, whether it be a Diploma or Bachelor’s, tend to be the most expensive. While RTO courses will usually be cheaper than TAFE, and TAFE cheaper than universities. The cost of your education can also depend on the state you live in. In most states the government offers substantial subsidies to first time students, as well as concession holders. For more information about subsidies and concessions, ask your education provider, or visit your state website.

What’s the difference?

In order for an education provider to offer an AQF (Australian Qualification Framework) Certificate or Diploma they must gain accreditation by one of three accrediting bodies. This means you can be assured that all courses maintain a certain standard and are regulated by an official body. However, as mentioned above, price can vary enormously for which the level of service, delivery mode and prestige of the provider may also come into play. If you are on a budget and looking to achieve a no-frills qualification, you may want to consider studying with an RTO and/or in an online format. In any case, it is recommended that you shop around, as some RTO’s with big marketing budgets can often have a hefty price tag as well.

What does a childcare worker do?

As a qualified childcare worker of any level, you will be responsible for the care of babies, toddlers and young children amongst different settings. You will provide social, physical, intellectual and educational support to help in their development. A typical day in a Childcare Educator’s life, involves a wide range of activities, such as:

  • preparing meals
  • changing nappies
  • constructing learning materials
  • organising play-based learning
  • coordinating with parents
  • supervising play

You may need to accept legal responsibility for the health and safety of the children in your care.

How much can you earn?

The annual salary of an Early Childhood Educator tends to range between $42,000 – $50,000, which translates to approximately $21-$25 per hour. Minimum wages for childcare workers are set out by the Children Services Award whereby Educators with higher levels of qualification and/or experience, are entitled to higher wages. On the other hand, Early Childhood Teacher salaries, are governed by the Education Services (Teachers) Award, with an entry level salary of $46,000 pa, which then grows to approximately $65,000 pa as you gain more experience.

Other requirements

So you’re qualified and ready to start your career in childcare. But there are a few more requirements that you need to be aware of:

  • Working With Children Check (WWCC) – in order to work with children, Australian law demands all childcare workers to hold a Working With Children Check, also known as a Blue Card.
  • First aid certificate – it is also compulsory for early childhood professionals to hold a valid first aid certificate, and understand how to act in emergency situations.

Summary

A career in early childhood education and care, is richly fulfilling and stimulating. The genuine enthusiasm and love you will get from the children in your care is unparalleled. In order to get started, enquire into one of the child care courses described in this article. You will receive personal fulfilment from doing something you’re passionate about and for making an immense difference to the young lives of the children you care for.

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