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What Preschool and Childcare Center Directors Do About this section

Preschool and childcare center directors
Preschool and childcare center directors assist staff with caring for and teaching children.

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, which may include before- and after-school care.

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 About this section

Preschool and childcare center directors
Most preschool and childcare center directors work in childcare facilities.

Preschool and childcare center directors held about 69,200 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of preschool and childcare center directors were as follows:

Child day care services 65%
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 12
Self-employed workers 9
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 6

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

Most preschool and childcare center directors work full time, and 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 and late in the evening, particularly in centers that provide before- and after-school care. In large facilities, the director and assistant directors may stagger their schedules to ensure that someone is always onsite.

How to Become a Preschool or Childcare Center Director About this section

Preschool and childcare center directors
Preschool and childcare center directors need to be able to interact with children, staff, and parents.

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.

Important Qualities

Business skills. Preschool and childcare center directors manage childcare centers and need to be able to operate the business effectively.

Communication skills. Directors inform parents and staff about the children’s progress. They need good writing and speaking skills to convey this information.

Interpersonal skills. Preschool and childcare center directors must be able to develop relationships with parents, children, and staff.

Leadership skills. Preschool and childcare center directors need leadership skills to supervise staff and inspire diligence. They also must enforce rules and regulations.

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

Pay About this section

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

Median annual wages, May 2019

Other management occupations

$91,300

Preschool and childcare center directors

$48,210

Total, all occupations

$39,810

 

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

Most preschool and childcare center directors work full time, and 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 and late in the evening, particularly in centers that provide before- and after-school care. In large facilities, the director and assistant directors may stagger their schedules to ensure that someone is always onsite.

Job Outlook About this section

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Total, all occupations

4%

Other management occupations

3%

Preschool and childcare center directors

1%

 

Employment of preschool and childcare center directors is projected to grow 1 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations.

Early childhood education is widely recognized as important for a child’s intellectual and emotional development. Working parents are expected to continue to rely on childcare centers and the services they provide; however, the rising cost of childcare and the increasing number of stay-at-home parents are expected to reduce the demand for these workers over the next decade.

Job Prospects

Despite limited employment growth, about 4,600 openings for preschool and childcare center directors are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment projections data for preschool and childcare center directors, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Education and childcare administrators, preschool and daycare

11-9031 69,200 69,900 1 700 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

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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Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center/Program

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