Bureau of Labor Statistics

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

preschool and childcare center directors image
Preschool and childcare center directors lead staff, design program plans, oversee daily activities, and prepare plans and budgets.
Quick Facts: Preschool and Childcare Center Directors
2018 Median Pay $47,940 per year
$23.05 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation Less than 5 years
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2018 66,700
Job Outlook, 2018-28 7% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2018-28 4,800

Summary

What Preschool and Childcare Center Directors Do

Preschool and childcare center directors supervise and lead their staffs, design program plans, oversee daily activities, and prepare budgets.

Work Environment

Preschool and childcare center directors work primarily in child daycare services. They generally work full time.

How to Become a Preschool or Childcare Center Director

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.

Pay

The median annual wage for preschool and childcare center directors was $47,940 in May 2018.

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. Overall job opportunities for preschool and childcare center directors are expected to be favorable.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for preschool and childcare center directors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of preschool and childcare center directors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about preschool and childcare center directors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Preschool and Childcare Center Directors Do

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.

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
Most preschool and childcare center directors work in childcare facilities.

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.

How to Become a Preschool or Childcare Center Director

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

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

Median annual wages, May 2018

Other management occupations

$90,120

Preschool and childcare center directors

$47,940

Total, all occupations

$38,640

 

The median annual wage for preschool and childcare center directors was $47,940 in May 2018. 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 $30,900, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $83,730.

In May 2018, 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 $67,540
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 51,170
Child day care services 46,310

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

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

Percent change in employment, projected 2018-28

Preschool and childcare center directors

7%

Other management occupations

6%

Total, all occupations

5%

 

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.

Employment projections data for preschool and childcare center directors, 2018-28

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

Occupational Title

Education administrators, preschool and childcare center/program

SOC Code11-9031
Employment, 201866,700
Projected Employment, 202871,500
Percent Change, 2018-287
Numeric Change, 2018-284,800
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of preschool and childcare center directors.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2018 MEDIAN PAY
Child care workers

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers attend to the basic needs of children, such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and overseeing play.

High school diploma or equivalent $23,240
High school teachers

High School Teachers

High school teachers teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

Bachelor's degree $60,320
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects in order to prepare them for future schooling.

Bachelor's degree $57,980
Middle school teachers

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades.

Bachelor's degree $58,600
Preschool teachers

Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers educate and care for children younger than age 5 who have not yet entered kindergarten.

Associate's degree $29,780
Special education teachers

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities.

Bachelor's degree $59,780
Teacher assistants

Teacher Assistants

Teacher assistants work with a licensed teacher to give students additional attention and instruction.

Some college, no degree $26,970
Elementary, middle, and high school principals

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Elementary, middle, and high school principals oversee all school operations, including daily school activities.

Master's degree $95,310

Contacts for More Info

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

O*NET

Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center/Program

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Preschool and Childcare Center Directors,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/preschool-and-childcare-center-directors.htm (visited September 10, 2019).

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