Do you love working with children? Do you fancy a career that offers something a little different than the office-based 9 to 5? A career in early childhood education and care might be for you.
It can take just one to two years to become a qualified early childhood educator in Australia, meaning you can work in childcare centres, kindergartens, and preschools across the nation.
Plus, if you are a Queensland resident under 25, you may be eligible to study fee-free as part of the government’s Free Apprenticeships for Under 25s program.
Here's how to get a job in early childhood education and care, and why you should!
Why work in Early Childhood Education and Care?
1. It's fun
Gen, Centre Director (i.e., Manager) at A Head Start Children’s Centre on Queensland’s Gold Coast, said that many people are drawn to early childhood education because they want to work with children and enjoy a fun, flexible career.
“Your inner child comes back,” Gen said.
“You get to hang out with some of the most amazing little humans and have a lot of fun.”
“If you love working with children and want a job that’s different every single day, then early childhood education is perfect,” she said.
2. It’s flexible
Most childcare services operate on extended hours - open from 11 to 12 hours each day - to cater for working families. That means that early childhood educators enjoy a different schedule than is the norm for office-based professionals. In other words, it’s not the 9-5.
“We as a centre are quite flexible,” Gen said. “Team members who started at 6.30 this morning will have gone home by 2.30 pm.
“It means that staff are able to take their own children to after-school activities and things like that.”
3. It's full of opportunities
No two unconventional hours in early childhood education are the same, either. Opportunities for learning, professional development, career progression, creativity and inspiration are aplenty.
“Every day is completely different. Today, for an example, we had a wildlife show. We had many different Australian animals for the children to touch,” Gen said.
“Staff have so many opportunities to partake in professional development, too. For example, some of my team are signed up to an indigenous walk with an Aboriginal leader next month.
“It’s really important that the children and educators keep inspired and engaged,” She explained.
4. It's rewarding
As an early childhood educator, you play an important role in young people’s lives. It makes sense, really, when the children are spending most of the day with you!
“There's so much learning growth in a child’s first five years, and we get to be a part of it,” Gen said.
5. It’s a career you can count on
According to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee, job growth in the children’s education and care sector is expected to surge over the next five years.
“Early childhood (pre-primary school) teacher job roles will experience the largest relative growth in the sector, growing by 22% or reaching 9,000 jobs by 2023… child carers are expected to experience the largest surge in jobs, with a forecast of 27,600 jobs growth by 2023.”
If job security is important for you, a career in children’s education and care ticks the boxes.
How to nail the interview and get the job you want
As Centre Director, Gen has hired a passionate team of early childhood educators at A Head Start and developed a keen eye for recognising potential.
Whether it's an interview, a job trial, or the practical component of your childcare course, you should always ensure you are engaged in your environment and with those around you. This will help you immensely when it comes to getting hired.
“If an individual can connect naturally with the children straight away, it shows they are passionate about working in the industry,” she said.
Gen looks for this quality because, unsurprisingly, we tend to work harder and perform better at (not to mention enjoy) vocations we feel passionate about.
“I’m looking for people who will kick off their shoes and join the children in the sandpit, engage them in conversation, and really show an interest in them.”
To see how new hires interact in an early childhood setting, Gen invites applicants first for a casual interview, and then to a half-day trial. Hot tip: it sounds obvious, but if you want to work in early childhood education, you must enjoy working with children.
“I always ask interviewees why they've chosen this profession,” Gen reveals.
“If they say, ‘because I didn't really know what else to do’, that’s an immediate red flag.”
The interview is your chance to highlight your unique hobbies, skills, passions, and interests that you can bring to the table.
“Some of our team are qualified yoga instructors, so they do yoga with the children. If you're creative and crafty, we can work to that strength.” Gen said.
The most pertinent advice Gen left us with was to “engage, ask questions, and be your friendly self.”
“Don’t stand with your hands in your pockets!” She exclaimed.
“I know it can be hard, especially if you’re younger and this is your first job. That said, I really encourage you to be confident, get involved, and ask a lot of questions, even if it’s just: ‘what do you need me to do?’”
“And be friendly to the parents, too. After all, you’re with their child all day.”
If you have any questions about studying or working in Early Childhood Education and Care, please get in touch or give us a call on 1300 707 058.