How to Become a Child Care Center Director

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Becoming a child care center director is just one of the many career advancement opportunities available for dedicated child care professionals. Child care center directors combine their passion for early childhood education with skills like business administration, communication and leadership. 

While early childhood educators support child development through one-to-one interactions in the classroom, child care center directors work to ensure that their centers are profitable and that both child care providers and their students have the materials and resources they need to be successful.

If you’re excited about the prospect of taking on additional responsibility in an education leadership role, a career as a child care center director could be for you. To help you decide, we’ve put together this short guide explaining how to become a child care center director in 2020.

What is a Child Care Center Director?

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Child care center directors are management professionals who use their skills to coordinate the effective operation of child care centers. Child care center directors are also devoted educators who must consider the financial needs and viability of the center while ensuring that staff and students have the resources they need to succeed. 

Professional duties for child care center directors include, but are not limited to, the following tasks:

  • Facilitating communication with staff and families through newsletters, written communications and digital channels like social media, email, and SMS text messaging.
  • Ensuring that families receive regular updates on new center policies and procedures, and that parents are kept engaged with their child’s academic progress through relevant updates from child care providers.
  • Managing the enrollment of new students at the center and the collection of tuition and program fees.
  • Meeting prospective customers or interested parents and building relationships to encourage them to enroll kids.
  • Coordinating orientation, inductio, and integration of new families and their kids into the center.
  • Hiring qualified staff and training them to deliver child care and education according to organizational culture, values and objectives.
  • Assisting child care providers and other staff members with career development and connecting them with resources and training opportunities.
  • Researching and implementing new policies or procedures based on public health recommendations and current best practices in child care.
  • Budgeting and financial management.
  • Ordering supplies that are necessary for daily child care operations, including food for meals, cleaning supplies and educational materials.

According to Zip Recruiter, child care center directors in the United States earn an average annual salary of $39,118, with many earning as much as $50,000 per year or more. This represents a substantial salary increase for most child care providers, for whom the average annual salary is approximately $22,500 in the U.S.

The most successful child care center directors start with a solid background in early childhood education before developing the management skills that allow them to succeed in the director role. 

Procare is here to help.

We know the business of child care. For more than 30 years we’ve been guiding child care professionals just like you to help stay connected and in control.

How to Become a Child Care Center Director

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Complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education

Completing your bachelor’s degree in an ECE program is a long-term investment in your career as an educator. While you may be able to gain employment as a child care provider without obtaining a college degree, you’ll find that most management or supervisory roles in education and child care prefer applicants with a college degree. 

You can visit the College Navigator tool at the National Center for Education Statistics to discover early childhood education programs and related study opportunities near you.

Gain Work Experience as a Child Care Provider

When hiring for the child care center director role, employers are typically looking for two types of experience:

  1. Experience working in a center-based child care facility
  2. Experience with managing teams of people

Employers understand that the most successful child care center directors have direct child care experience and a close working knowledge of the job requirements and challenges faced by child care providers each day.

Earn Your Professional Credentials in Child Care

There are two professional designations available for child care workers in the United States.

The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential is offered by the Council for Professional Recognition, while the Child Care Professional (CCP) credential is administered by the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA).

The two credentials are seen as equivalent and the evaluation and testing process is similar for both options. Earning your professional credential demonstrates your child care qualifications and professional dedication to prospective employers.

Gain Work Experience as a Child Care Supervisor

After earning your professional credentials as a child care supervisor, you may choose to continue your professional development by seeking out a child care supervisor role.

This role, which exists at many (but not all) child care centers, is an intermediate role between child care provider and child care director. You’ll be responsible for supervising the daily activities of child care providers, keeping and managing child care records, ensuring child safety and holding your staff members accountable to organizational policy. 

You may report directly to a child care center director and work with them to coordinate policies and child care resources for the center. This experience can be valuable when applying for the child care center director role.

Develop Business Management Skills

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In addition to a strong background in child care and education, center directors must have excellent business management skills. These include things like:

  • Center financial management and budgeting
  • Billing and payroll management
  • Strategic planning and leadership
  • Customer service and relationship management
  • Sales and marketing
  • Communication

You can develop business management skills in three main ways:

  1. Start your own child care business and conduct research to find and implement the best management strategies.
  2. Learn business management skills on the job as a child care supervisor working closely with a child care center director.
  3. Take business management courses online or at a local community college.

As you apply for child care center director roles, be prepared to give examples of how you’ve used your business management skills in the past to achieve success.

Apply for Child Care Center Director Roles

Once you’ve acquired the right amounts of child care and business management experience, it’s time to start applying to child care center director roles.

Search for child care center director roles using online job boards, along with LinkedIn – you’ll find all kinds of postings asking for years of experience, professional qualifications and other child care center director requirements. 

Our best advice here is to apply for every position you can find that is close to your location – even if you don’t have all the qualifications they’re asking for. You can still get invited for a job interview where you can make a great impression, build new connections and practice answering interview questions.

It’s important to be persistent in your job search – put out lots of applications and keep networking until you get hired! You may think about finding a few folks through networking sites (like LinkedIn) who have the role you’d like to have someday and set up informal meetings to understand his or her career path. It may provide you with some foundational best practices for your own job search.

How to Excel as a Child Care Center Director

Becoming a child care center director doesn’t mean you’ve reached the pinnacle of your career – your best chance to make an impact is just getting started, and there’s plenty of work left to be done. Here’s how to maximize your impact and truly excel as a child care center director.

Develop a Culture of Care at Your Center

Organizational culture describes the working philosophies, attitudes and values that staff members follow at your child care center. A culture of care is one that focuses on building strong one-to-one relationships with kids and families to promote social-emotional development and academic/life success. 

As a child care center director, you have the opportunity to hire, train and coach staff in a culture that makes your child care center an amazing place for kids to excel.

Pursue Continuing Education

Continuing education is important for child care providers and child care professionals in leadership roles. As a center director, you can excel in your role by attending training seminars and certification courses that expand your knowledge and perspectives on early education and child care management. You can bring those lessons back to your center, share them with staff members, and turn them into new working methods that drive positive outcomes for your center.

Connect with other Child Care Professionals

As a child care center director, connecting with other child care professionals can help you broaden your knowledge base, discover new best practices and identify new opportunities to make an impact in your career. You can meet other child care professionals at education and child care conferences or through continuing education.

Digitize Center Administration with Child Care Management Software

In 2020, child care centers are continuing to embrace digital solutions that simplify and automate child care management activities. Child care management software tools can help centers streamline billing and tuition collection, enhance parent engagement, and improve access to child and family records. 

These features help child care center directors save hours of their time each week – time that can be invested in developing program improvements that drive early learning outcomes for kids.

Manage Child Care Center Operations with Procare Solutions

With over 30 years in the business of child care, Procare Solutions is the No. 1 choice for child care center directors who want to efficiently tackle all the administrative complexities of running a center.

Our child care management solutions help center directors automate billing and payments, track child and family records, manage staff scheduling and payroll, drive parent engagement with newsletters, direct messaging and mass communications, and emergency alerts. 

Are you ready to excel in your role as a child care center director with Procare Solutions?

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Michelle Burrows

About The Author

Michelle Burrows

Michelle Burrows serves as Chief Marketing Officer at Procare, providing integrated software, products and solutions for child-centered businesses. In her role as CMO, Michelle drives strategy, brand awareness, demand generation and delivering outstanding customer experiences.

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