I'm interested in an early childhood career

The landscape of early childhood education and care (ECEC) is changing dramatically to meet the needs of children in New South Wales, so now’s an exciting time to start your career. Cutting-edge initiatives, like the introduction of a universal pre-Kindergarten year for every child by 2030, means there are unprecedented opportunities for people entering the ECEC workforce.

As a new employee to the sector, you’ll get to help shape the next generation of little learners. What you do as an ECEC employee matters, but how do you begin?

These scenarios showcase a range of ways that you can choose to kickstart your career in the ECEC profession.

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.

If you see yourself in a new career and are thinking about making a start in your professional career in early childhood, you have a few options.

It is your choice where and when you begin your early childhood career. You could start during your HSC with a School Based Traineeship (SBT), or at another time through a degree or traineeship including the Certificate III in ECEC or Early Childhood Teaching degree. The choice is yours!

Below are some of the options for you and how we can help you to achieve your career goals.

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.

Different roles in early childhood education services

There are different roles in early childhood education services and the National Quality Framework (NQF) sets out the minimum qualification requirementsExternal link for some roles. These include:

Early childhood educators work directly with children and hold or are studying for an ACECQA-approved Certificate III or Diploma. Educators contribute to planning educational programs and support a child’s learning to meet outcomes from the Early Years Learning FrameworkExternal link or the School Age Care FrameworkExternal link . Find registered training organisations offering the Certificate IIIExternal link and DiplomaExternal link qualifications.

Early childhood teachers are degree-qualified teachers with either a Bachelor or Master of Early Childhood Education, or a similar ACECQA-approvedExternal link course. Early childhood teachers support the learning and development of children in line with the Early Years Learning Framework. Search for institutions offering approved early childhood teacher qualifications using Course Seeker.External link

Managers and directors look after the management aspects of a service, including ensuring that a service is compliant with the National Law and Regulations and preparing for assessment and reporting. They also work with parents to ensure the needs of all children in the service are met.

Working in outside school hours care (OSHC) provides education and care to school age children before and after school and during school holidays. There are no specific qualification requirements for educators in OSHC services in NSW but a suitable qualification is an advantage. My Time, Our PlaceExternal link is the approved learning framework for school age care in Australia.

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