Take the next step in your early learning career

Keep making a real difference in the lives of NSW’s children, families and communities by advancing your career in early learning and expanding your qualifications today.

Make the most of your career in early childhood education and care

Early childhood teachers and educators set children on the path to lifelong health and happiness. As a member of our highly skilled early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce, you can:

  • make a meaningful impact in the lives of children, families and communities

  • plan and deliver evidence-backed, play-based learning activities

  • earn while you learn through government subsidies and flexible study pathways

  • specialise in an area of early learning that you’re passionate about

By improving your qualifications, you can enjoy greater job security, better pay, and have more control over your working arrangements. Upskilling will give you the tools and knowledge to take on new challenges and responsibility at your service.

Opportunities for growth

No matter where you are in your ECEC career journey, there are many opportunities available for you to upskill and build upon your knowledge and qualifications. We encourage you to check this page regularly, as new incentives and programs will continue to be rolled out in the coming months.

Financial support

You may be eligible to receive funding to complete the next stage of your career development.

ECEC Vocational Educational and Training (VET) Scholarships, Early Childhood Inclusive Education Scholarships, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Education Scholarships provide financial support for educators and teachers gaining a new qualification.

The NSW Government has invested $9 million in the 2023-24 scholarships program. It will open in late September and will close in June 2024 or when the allocated funding is exhausted.

Visit the scholarships page for more information.

A $10 million professional development fund will provide paid opportunities to help educators learn, grow and thrive, regardless of their qualification. More details will be announced towards the end of 2023.

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 of ECEC. Find out more at our early childhood education and care information page.

Today . . .

Brian works in an early childhood education and care service as a Certificate III qualified educator. He enjoys the flexibility of the role and the opportunity to use play-based learning to teach children about the world.

Ready to take on more responsibility at his service, he enrols in a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, which is offered through a local Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that is registered under the Smart and Skilled program. With the support of the NSW Government, Brian doesn’t have to pay any fees to do the course.

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18 months later . . .

Brian’s employer is supportive of his desire to upskill and offers him a full-time contract while he is completing the course. This arrangement allows Brian the security of permanent hours with the flexibility to complete his studies. As a qualified Diploma-level Educator, Brian also receives a higher wage than previously.

The enthusiasm Brian shows in his work inspires his partner, Mike, to study a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care. Brian and Mike have heard about the Department of Education's planned initiatives to support regional services, and they've started making plans to eventually open their own service on the NSW South Coast.

Today . . .

Abby recently migrated to Australia and is looking to enter the workforce. She completed a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care in New Zealand and decides to upskill now that she’s living in Australia.

As she lives in a rural community, Abby is concerned that access to her course might be limited. Fortunately, TAFE is running a hybrid program that will allow her to complete much of her studies off-campus.

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Three years from now . . .

Abby needed to take a break from study while she was on maternity leave and was able to pause her studies with TAFE for a semester. After completing her award, she’s excited to find a part time role in an ECEC service around the corner from her home. Although she’s starting with just a few shifts per week, she and her manager are working on a long-term plan to eventually transition to full-time work. She’s glad to be able to work in her chosen service and will be able to enrol her son there in the future.

Today . . .

James grows up in northern New South Wales. After completing his HSC, he spends a few years working in retail and hospitality. While both roles are challenging and dynamic, his work leaves him feeling unfulfilled, with a sense that he’s not making a difference in his local community.

In 2018, James enrols in the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and completes his studies at his local TAFE in Ballina. After working in the sector for 3 years and responding to the needs and challenges of the pandemic, he knows this is the field he is meant to work in.

He feels that he’s having a positive influence on the young children, which gives him a sense of pride. Wanting to upskill and take on more responsibility, James enrols into the Diploma of ECEC. This time he will be studying with a different Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

Image: For illustrative purposes only

Two years later . . .

At the end of 2022, the Department of Education launches a program to assist students enrolled with RTO programs to finish their studies. James applies and is successful, receiving $2,000 at the commencement of his Diploma, via the Diploma of ECEC VET scholarship (Diploma of ECEC Scholarship Program Guidelines). He uses the money to supplement his income while he’s at TAFE and unable to work. Upon completion of his qualification, James is awarded another payment of $3,000, which he uses to upgrade his laptop. At the end of his studies, James is offered full-time work with his employer.

You may also be interested in . . .


  • Early childhood education


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • Early Childhood Outcomes
  • Early childhood education
  • Early childhood educators
  • Early childhood providers
  • Early childhood teachers
  • General public
  • Parents and carers
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