Childcare & Early Learning

If you’ve got a love of learning, helping others reach their academic goals, or supporting young children’s educational development, a career in education could be for you!

Education, childcare and early learning is a broad sector, covering pre-school care and education right through to adult education.

Learning and studying are a core part of our lives, no matter our age, and there’s an opportunity to support others in various roles at every step of their learning journey.

The industry covers:

  • Early years daycare and preschool
  • Primary and high school education
  • TAFE education
  • University/tertiary education
  • Adult and community education

Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is more than getting children ready for their next steps at primary school. Workers in this industry aim to support the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs to build a foundation for lifelong learning.

At the primary, high school and higher education level, teaching is a huge profession that many find incredibly rewarding. As well as teaching, you could get involved in curriculum assessment and development, exam design and evaluation, or learning research.

The education industry also has opportunities across a range of support roles, including administration, marketing and communications, human resources, careers advice, sports coaching, and information technology.

Entry into the sector is as varied as the roles available, so no matter what academic pathway you choose to pursue, there’ll be an opportunity to get started with a career in education, childcare and early learning.

What You Could Do

Job roles in this industry tend to fall under one of five broader categories:

  1. Early years daycare and preschool
  2. Primary and high school education
  3. TAFE education
  4. University/tertiary education
  5. Adult and community education

Here’s a look at a few of the types of roles that fit into each of those categories:

Early Years Daycare and Preschool

  • Early Childhood Educators (ECE): ECEs assess the developmental needs of children, creating plans that address those needs and teaching children new things. They create a range of activities to help children develop both socially and intellectually.
  • Childcare/Daycare Worker: A childcare worker monitors children in a daycare centre to ensure their safety. They often help to teach social skills and perform some pre-kindergarten readiness such as reciting the alphabet and writing letters. Some childcare workers are responsible for young babies and caring for needs including feeding them and changing nappies.
  • Centre Manager: Centre Managers are responsible for the smooth operation of the childcare facility and the safety of the children. They supervise childcare workers and early childhood educators, ensuring that they are caring for the children appropriately and remain compliant with health and safety regulations. In addition, they will often liaise with parents about how their child is doing.

Primary and High School Education

  • Teacher: Teaching can be a full-on job, but many in the industry say how rewarding it is. Duties vary depending on the year/age of children and subject/s taught. Typically, teachers are expected to plan and implement courses of study, provide a safe and educational environment in accordance with the child safe standards, teach an area of the curriculum or a general curriculum to a year level, monitor, evaluate and report student progress throughout the year.
  • Teacher Aide: A teacher’s aide assists teachers in primary or high schools. They help prepare teaching materials and supervise the children during lessons. In addition, they may work across a classroom or support specific students who require extra support with their studies.
  • Office Administrator: All schools require office administrators to handle the paperwork associated with running the school. Duties can vary but typically include liaising with parents, ensuring their needs are met, enrolling children at the school, maintaining records, and ensuring the school is compliant with all its policies.

TAFE Education

  • TAFE Teacher: TAFE teachers are usually highly specialised in their subject matter and may work in the industry alongside teaching. They are responsible for the delivery and assessment of quality vocational education and training programs. Duties include planning, preparing, delivering and assessing training programs, evaluating student performance and developing teaching and learning resources.
  • Placement Coordinator
    Many students on a TAFE course will do a work or industry placement as a part of their studies. Placement coordinators engage with various employers to confirm placement opportunities, complete admin paperwork, and ensure learning outcomes are achieved.
  • Learning Support Officer: Learning Support Officers provide learning support to individuals and groups of students with a disability who are undertaking vocational education and training (VET) courses. They offer assistance on specific aspects of a vocational program or in preparation for assessments.

University/Tertiary Education

  • Academic Lecturer: Academic lecturers are responsible for providing a high-quality teaching and learning experience to university students and making ongoing contributions to the university’s academic mission. They will support curriculum development, academic management and administration, research and scholarship.
  • Head of Department: The Head of an Academic Department provides academic leadership and management to all academic staff that sit within that department. They are usually subject matter experts and are required to lead, manage and develop the department to ensure it achieves the highest possible standards of excellence in teaching and learning as well as research.
  • Academic Administrator: Like schools, all universities require administrators to handle the paperwork associated with running the school. Duties can vary depending on specific roles but include managing enrolments, assignment submissions, exam enrollments, tuition fees and general student support.

Adult and Community Education

  • Adult Education Lecturer: Like other teachers, adult education lecturers deliver a core curriculum on specific subjects in a classroom setting. They plan, prepare and evaluate courses of learning. The only difference is- they teach adults!
  • Student Mentor: Many adults return to studying after a break, and it can be challenging to get back into things. Student mentors provide support and assistance on a range of things related to academic life, including time management, essay and research skills, enrolment and navigating digital systems.
  • Careers Counsellor: Careers counsellors are knowledgeable across various sectors to support adult learners in understanding how to gain the qualifications needed to pursue a new career path. They also offer help on resume writing, interview skills and job applications.

These job roles are only just scratching the surface. Each industry segment will also include administrative or managerial functions that support the sector in significant ways.

Graduate Employment and Gender Split

Although a degree is not always essential for every career pathway into the education sector, it’s worth knowing what graduate employment looks like to help set your expectations and make further decisions.

The Graduates Outcome Survey tracks graduate employment across different industry sectors. Here’s the most recent data for this industry:

  • Teacher Education Graduates in full-time employment: 80.6%
  • Teacher Education Graduates in employment overall: 90.9%

Keep in mind that this doesn’t account for graduates working part-time and/or who may have continued to higher studies; these are very promising percentages!

*Figures from 2020 survey results.

Gender Split

The gender split across the industry depends on the segment of the sector you work within, but more females are predominantly working in this industry. Reports indicate that the average split is:

  • Males: 29%
  • Females: 71%

The majority of workers in the childcare and early years education sector of the industry are women, with a more even split between men and women working in high schools and higher education roles.

Average Salary

Current surveys in the sector indicate the median salaries for full-time healthcare roles as:

  • Early years daycare and preschool: $44,320-63,000
  • Primary and high school education: $60,990-88,600
  • TAFE education: $75,000-87,000
  • University/tertiary education: $104,000-142,000
  • Adult and community education: $71,862-$82,200

Salaries can be pretty varied, with lower expectations for entry-level roles. Salaries are also determined by several factors, including:

  • The segment of the industry you work within.
  • Your job title and seniority.
  • The amount of experience you have.

Your location, for example, organisations in large cities tend to pay more than those in rural areas.

Industry Growth

The sector is large, diverse and growing. Because childcare and early education can be operated by private, government and not-for-profit/community organisations, new businesses are opening all the time, creating further job growth.

With the variability in families, there is usually a strong demand for childcare seven days a week, not just within standard office hours. Early childcare job roles, including Out Of School Hours Workers, is expected to see the most significant industry growth by 22%, or roughly 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. (according to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee).

Overall, the sector is expected to experience strong growth over the next five years. The pandemic has increased the need for flexible and adaptable digital and technical skills across all levels of education.

In terms of advancements in technology, education will see a lot of growth and the need to meet an increasing pool of global learners.

Qualifications and Entry Pathways

Entry pathways are varied and will depend heavily on the type of role you want to get into.

Vocational education and training (VET) is required for a range of childcare and early learning roles such as:

  • Child Care Worker
  • Out of School Hours Worker
  • Teacher Aide

Primary, secondary and TAFE workers will require a bachelor’s degree in teaching or a specialised subject, followed by a postgraduate teaching qualification.

For administrative and other support roles, you could enter the industry through:

  • Pursuing a degree: To start a degree in a business, human resources or IT subject, you’ll need to complete Y12 and achieve an ATAR score of at least 75 (some universities require different scores, so check entry requirements when researching which university is best for you).
  • Scoring an apprenticeship or traineeship: You can start a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship in early learning and childcare from Yr 9 and work to gain industry-specific qualifications alongside your certificate of education and work experience.
  • Work experience once you leave school: If you leave school at 16, you can apply for work experience and school-leaver programs in administrative or entry-level positions and work your way up over time. Many of these organisations will also support you to gain further professional qualifications. You’ll need a strong skill set and good grades in Maths and English as a minimum.

Requirements will depend on the type of role you want and the company – so make sure you do some research.

Entry-level qualifications you could pursue to begin a role in early learning or childcare include:

  • Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care
  • Certificate III in Education Support
  • Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care

Whatever your circumstances, grades or preferred way forward – there’s a qualification pathway that will work for you

Best Places to Study

Where you choose to study will be dependent on a range of factors, but some top institutions in Australia to study include:

  • University of Sydney
  • University of Melbourne
  • Australian National University
  • Australian Catholic University
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • Curtin University
  • Deakin University

Where to Learn More

You can find out more about different education, early learning and childcare industry pathways through professional bodies and organisations advocating for careers in the sector.

Some good places to start include:

And many more!

Each state will also have several professional organisations that can help you learn more about the industry, network, and develop your career.