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Child Care Workers

At a Glance

  • Usually care for children under five years old
  • Interact regularly with children, parents, and coworkers
  • May work early morning, day, or early evening hours
  • May work part time or full time
  • Have at least a high school diploma or equivalent
  • May need to know CPR
  • May need a license

Career summary

Child care workers supervise, care for, and teach children in day care programs.

Child care workers may also be called day care workers.

#from 8449 Child Care Workers changed from instructor. Nothing else brought over., checked 3/25/19 lh

Child care workers teach children physical, emotional, intellectual, and social skills. They do this by leading a variety of activities. These include:

Child care workers take care of children's physical needs. This includes:

Child care workers also take care of children’s' emotional needs. For example, they calm children who are upset. They also stop children from fighting and may discipline them.

Child care workers monitor children's developmental growth. If they see signs of emotional or other developmental problems, they discuss them with their supervisor. They also discuss these problems with the child's parents. They may keep records of children's developmental progress.

Related careers

This career is part of the Human Services cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to child care workers.

Common work activities

Child care workers perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, child care workers:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Child care workers frequently:

It is important for child care workers to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for child care workers to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Child care workers need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a child care worker, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Many employers do not require training beyond a high school diploma. However, others require child care workers to have an associate degree. Some employers require a bachelor's degree in early childhood education. Courses in nutrition, psychology, and child development are all good preparation for this occupation. Courses in art, music, and a second language, such as Spanish, are also helpful.

Work experience

Babysitting experience is excellent preparation for working in this occupation.

On-the-job training

Many child care workers learn their skills on the job from an experienced worker. Training includes:

Training may last up to a month.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements. You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

Many child care workers are self-employed. If you want to run your own business some day, you should consider taking these courses as well:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers look for people who like working with children. They may require applicants to have first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) cards. Many require applicants to pass a background check. Some employers require experience working with children with disabilities.

Often some educational background in early childhood education is preferred. Advanced positions may require two to four years of college course work emphasizing early childhood education, nursery, preschool, and child development. They also look for applicants who are in good physical health and emotionally capable of dealing with the demands of the job. Some employers may require workers to be bilingual.


Volunteer at child care center to see if you like the work. Talk with child care workers about their jobs.


The owner of a family day care home or a day care center must have a child care facility license. Licensed day care operators and child care workers must have first aid, CPR, and HIV/AIDS training. A tuberculin (TB) skin test is also required. State law also requires individuals who have unsupervised or regular access to children in a child care setting to undergo a criminal history and background check.

For more information, contact:

Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families (external link)

P.O. Box 40970
Olympia, WA 98504-0970


Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


#In Washington, the average entry-level wage for child care workers is $10.55 per hour ($1,828 per month). An early childhood program specialist 1 with no experience earns $12.75 to $16.81 per hour working for the State of Washington.

The minimum wage for Washington State as of January 1, 2020 is $13.50 per hour. Some areas of the state may have a higher minimum wage.

#Updated ES wage info 07.16 sd

#Updated DOP 08.16 sd

Childcare workers (SOC 39-9011)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $11.66 $11.99 $13.11 $15.69 $18.18
Monthly $2,021 $2,078 $2,272 $2,719 $3,151
Yearly $24,250 $24,930 $27,270 $32,630 $37,810
    Bellingham Hourly $12.09 $12.40 $12.91 $13.91 $15.29
Monthly $2,095 $2,149 $2,237 $2,411 $2,650
Yearly $25,131 $25,793 $26,864 $28,944 $31,785
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $11.96 $12.10 $12.63 $16.97 $19.58
Monthly $2,073 $2,097 $2,189 $2,941 $3,393
Yearly $24,887 $25,153 $26,269 $35,298 $40,724
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $10.93 $11.90 $11.98 $12.08 $12.13
Monthly $1,894 $2,062 $2,076 $2,093 $2,102
Yearly $22,732 $24,753 $24,931 $25,110 $25,217
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $11.97 $12.13 $12.44 $12.81 $14.09
Monthly $2,074 $2,102 $2,156 $2,220 $2,442
Yearly $24,913 $25,218 $25,873 $26,648 $29,307
    Longview Hourly $11.93 $12.01 $12.31 $14.82 $19.98
Monthly $2,067 $2,081 $2,133 $2,568 $3,463
Yearly $24,820 $24,986 $25,606 $30,827 $41,569
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $11.99 $12.23 $12.97 $14.50 $15.75
Monthly $2,078 $2,119 $2,248 $2,513 $2,729
Yearly $24,946 $25,437 $26,978 $30,160 $32,766
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $11.98 $12.14 $12.50 $12.91 $14.05
Monthly $2,076 $2,104 $2,166 $2,237 $2,435
Yearly $24,920 $25,239 $26,000 $26,865 $29,207
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $12.20 $12.79 $14.97 $17.39 $19.25
Monthly $2,114 $2,217 $2,594 $3,014 $3,336
Yearly $25,378 $26,590 $31,129 $36,169 $40,034
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $11.95 $12.05 $12.43 $13.58 $15.90
Monthly $2,071 $2,088 $2,154 $2,353 $2,755
Yearly $24,853 $25,070 $25,851 $28,248 $33,085
    Vancouver Hourly $10.81 $11.56 $12.66 $15.70 $18.85
Monthly $1,873 $2,003 $2,194 $2,721 $3,267
Yearly $22,473 $24,054 $26,351 $32,651 $39,190
    Walla Walla Hourly $11.95 $12.05 $12.30 $16.13 $18.63
Monthly $2,071 $2,088 $2,132 $2,795 $3,229
Yearly $24,852 $25,065 $25,590 $33,552 $38,756
    Wenatchee Hourly $11.93 $12.01 $12.27 $13.93 $15.15
Monthly $2,067 $2,081 $2,126 $2,414 $2,625
Yearly $24,821 $24,989 $25,531 $28,980 $31,507
    Yakima Hourly $11.93 $12.01 $12.27 $13.97 $15.65
Monthly $2,067 $2,081 $2,126 $2,421 $2,712
Yearly $24,814 $24,987 $25,529 $29,056 $32,553
United States Hourly $8.53 $9.44 $11.17 $13.41 $16.55
Monthly $1,478 $1,636 $1,936 $2,324 $2,868
Yearly $17,750 $19,640 $23,240 $27,900 $34,430

Pay varies by employer and the worker's level of experience and responsibility. Wage information for live-in child care workers (nannies) is not available. However, it is common for employers to provide these workers with room and board along with a small salary.

Earnings of self-employed child care workers vary. The number of hours they work, the number and ages of the children, and the area of the country all affect wages.

Benefits for child care workers vary. Full-time child care workers may receive health insurance and paid vacations. Many employers provide free or discounted child care to employees. Self-employed child care workers must provide their own insurance.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

#Between 2014 and 2024, it is estimated that there will be 341 openings annually due to new positions and 589 openings annually from workers leaving this career.

#Updated outlook 05.16 sd

In Washington, the outlook will depend on public and private funding, expansion of child care staffing and facilities, and consumer demand for child care services. Currently, demand for child care services is great, but funds are limited. In addition, the number of small, family home child care providers in the state has decreased which creates fewer job opportunities for child care workers. The decrease in providers is partly due to the rising costs of running this type of home-based business. As the cost of care rises, more parents may find it harder to afford these services as well.

#Source of info on decrease in family child care businesses in state & rising costs of them from Seattle Times, 3/22/16 article,"'It's a broken market': State sees steep drop in home-based care." Comments added by CJ. two-year rule on this. lh 2/21/17 

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Child Care Workers (SOC 39-9011)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 17,594 14.9% 16.1% 3,243
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 520 13.3% 13.4% 93
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 367 11.4% 8.6% 64
    Benton and Franklin Counties 327 19.6% 15.0% 65
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 578 11.2% 11.9% 101
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 954 15.6% 15.2% 177
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 1,314 15.8% 14.1% 244
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 1,022 12.7% 14.6% 182
    King County 8,005 15.5% 19.6% 1,490
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 647 16.2% 13.8% 121
    Pierce County 1,041 14.5% 15.2% 191
    Snohomish County 1,797 15.0% 12.4% 333
    Spokane County 1,511 15.8% 13.9% 281
United States 1,160,000 2.4% 5.2% 177,900

National employment

About 25% of child care workers are self-employed.

Major employers:

National outlook

Growth for this occupation will be slower than average. Parents will continue to enroll their children in day care centers as they need to work. Other parents would like their children to have educational and social experiences. However, the increasing cost of child care and increasing number of stay-at-home parents may reduce demand for child care workers.

Job opportunities for qualified child care workers will be very good. In addition to the increased demand, this occupation has a high turnover rate. Many child care workers leave this occupation because of the low pay or to pursue other interests.

Other resources

American Federation of Teachers (external link)
555 New Jersey Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001
American Red Cross (external link)
Association for Early Learning Leaders (external link)
1250 S. Capital of Texas Hwy., Bldg. 3, Ste. #400
Austin, TX 78746
Child Care Aware of America (external link)
1515 N. Courthouse Road
3rd Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
Council for Professional Recognition (external link)
2460 - 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
NannyNetwork.com (external link)
National Association for Family Child Care (external link)
1743 West Alexander Street, #201
Salt Lake City, UT 84119
National Child Care Association (external link)
PO Box 2948
Merrifield, VA 22116
US Small Business Administration (external link)
Seattle District Office
2401 Fourth Avenue, Suite 450
Seattle, WA 98121
What is a Nanny? (external link)


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster