Discover a career in early learning

Make a real difference in the lives of NSW’s children, families and communities. Learn about becoming an early learning professional today.

Why work in early childhood education and care?

There aren’t many jobs where you help set children on the path to lifelong health and happiness. As a member of the early learning workforce, some benefits of helping to shape the next generation are:

  • supporting children to build their cognitive, physical and social skills through play-based learning

  • doing meaningful, rewarding and joyful work

  • finding flexible working arrangements in services across NSW

  • having job security with opportunities to upskill and develop your career

  • setting children up for a lifetime of learning, health and happiness

  • enjoying variety and fun in your day-to-day work.

A skilled, dedicated early learning workforce makes a big difference for children, families and communities. Cutting-edge initiatives are making early childhood education and care (ECEC) services more affordable and accessible, and giving early learning professionals new opportunities to start and grow their career .

There’s never been a better time to start your career in ECEC in NSW!

What is it like to work in early childhood education and care?

You’ll be educating and caring for children during the vital first 5 years of life, when learning happens faster than at any other time in life. You’ll deliver play-based learning programs that help children understand the world we live in, and make a meaningful impact on their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development. You will also teach children skills and values that they’ll hold with them for life.

There are different roles available in early childhood education services, depending on your experience and level of qualifications and interests.

Early childhood educators work directly with children and hold, or are studying for, an Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) approved Certificate III or Diploma. Learn more about career progression opportunities on our information page for educators and teachers who are interested in taking the next step in their career.

Early childhood teachers are degree-qualified with either a Bachelor or Master of Early Childhood Education. Learn more about becoming an early childhood teacher.

Today . . .

Samson and Inez are the eldest of 6 siblings. Samson is at high school in Western Sydney. Like his sister, he’s an active member of their local Samoan community and enjoys working with children. He regularly leads Sunday School and volunteers as the assistant coach of his local under 8’s NRL team. He'll start his HSC next year and is considering going on to university, but it just doesn’t feel like the right fit right now.

His sister, Inez, did a School-based Apprenticeship and Traineeship (SBAT) in Early Childhood Education and Care, and landed a job at a privately owned service straight after high school. She finds her work so rewarding that she has applied to undertake a Diploma in the new year. She has heard that the NSW Government is offering fee-free initiatives, so it makes sense to take advantage of this opportunity to upskill.

Following in Inez’s footsteps, Samson decides to enrol in an SBAT pathway as the first step on his ECEC career journey.

Image: For illustrative purposes only

2 years from now . . .

Inez loves her role at a long day care that services many of the children from her church community. She’s about to complete her Diploma in ECEC, which she studied for free through the local TAFE, which was registered with the Department of Education as a Smart & Skilled provider.

A friend told her about the ECEC VET Scholarships (Diploma in ECEC Scholarship Program Guidelines) also, on offer through the Department of Education, and she was successful in her application for $5,000 in financial support. She put the first $2,000 payment towards a laptop, so now she can do the online component of her course from anywhere. She plans to contribute the second instalment to her savings, so she can buy her first car and get to work more easily.

Samson achieved great results in his SBAT and is awarded a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. He's still deciding on his long-term career goals and is taking a year off from study to work in the ECEC sector.

The SBAT allows Samson to go to university whenever it feels right for him in the future, even though he didn’t get an ATAR. If he completes his Diploma through the VET sector like Inez, he will be able to enter just about any undergraduate university program he likes, not just those related to ECEC. While he takes his time to decide, he’ll get paid to provide meaningful, play-based learning to children in his community.

Today . . .

Jasmine has worked in retail since leaving school. The onset of the pandemic put the company employing her out of business. She hasn’t found any similar jobs in her area, so she decides to reskill in a different field. She’s always enjoyed spending time with children and would like to make a positive impact on young people’s lives.

While a teaching qualification is something she aspires to, Jasmine needs to work while she is studying. She decides to complete a Certificate III in ECEC through her local Registered Training Organisation (RTO), which allows her to work in a preschool in her neighbourhood. The ability to work while she is studying gives Jasmine a good work/life balance and allows her to progress her education at her own pace.

Jasmine applies for a Certificate III in ECEC VET Scholarship (Certificate III in ECEC scholarships)  through the Department of Education. The first scholarship instalment of $1,000 boosts her wages while she is settling in with her new employer and negotiating consistent hours. Jasmine enjoys learning the practical and theoretical aspects of early childhood education and care and is excited to enter the sector when her studies are complete.

Image: For illustrative purposes only

1 year later . . .

Jasmine completes her Certificate III and is offered part-time work at her local ECEC service. She receives the second instalment of her scholarship, which amounts to $2,000, which she puts towards supplies for her role.

Jasmine considers her long-term career options and thinks a move into family day care might offer more flexibility and opportunity to work with small groups of children. To give herself more options for career progression, she decides to return to her studies and work towards a Diploma in ECEC.

Today . . .

Amanda is taking a few years off from study after completing her HSC. Although she received an ATAR, she knows university is not right for her at this stage in her life. She would like to earn while she learns, so that she can move out of home and gain some independence.

After considering her options, Amanda settles on the idea of educating and mentoring children. A Certificate III in ECEC is the perfect option for her, as she can work in the sector while she is studying, with her daily activities complementing what she is learning in her classes.

Image: For illustrative purposes only

18 months from now . . .

After completing her Certificate III as a part-time student, Amanda enters the ECEC workforce as a room leader. Amanda’s partner, who works in the mining industry, gets a permanent job in Central NSW and she decides to join him. At first, she’s concerned that she’ll have trouble finding work in such a remote location but, because of her skills in ECEC, this isn’t a problem, and she finds a great role immediately.

She loves having a hands-on role that allows her to encourage and inspire the littlest learners of remote NSW and is now looking at options for career development. Next year she’ll start her Diploma qualification online and eventually she hopes to complete a bachelor's degree and open her own long day care service.

How to join the early childhood education workforce

There are several ways you can begin a rewarding career in ECEC. To encourage and inspire more dedicated and skilled workers to join the industry, the NSW Government offers the following school-based traineeships, fee-free qualifications, and teaching scholarships.

School Based Traineeships

SBT is for you if you would like to complete your Certificate III in ECEC while also doing your HSC.

Fee-Free Qualifications and Training

Fee-free pathways are for you if you would like to complete a fully subsidised Certificate III in ECEC or Diploma in ECEC. Training is fully funded by the NSW and Commonwealth governments.

Early Childhood Education teaching scholarships

An early childhood degree is for you if you are looking to be an early childhood teacher. The scholarship can support you with study costs.

You may also be interested in


  • Early childhood education

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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