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Promoting Professional Development and High Quality Early Childhood and School-Age Programmes
 Council on Children and Families
 Deborah Benson, Executive Director


What qualifications do I need to work with children?

Adult Educator
Assistant to Head of Group
Certified Teacher
Certified Special Education Teacher
Family Child Care Provider, Alternate Provider, Group Family Child Care Assistant
Government Official
Head of Group/Lead Teacher
Home Visitor, Family Worker
In-Home Provider – Nanny, Governess, Au Pair
Parent Educator
Principal, Superintendent, Administrator
College Professor
School Social Worker
Substitute Teacher
Teaching Assistant

The above positions are grouped into 17 categories with variations within each category depending on the work setting. Exceptions to all categories exist, depending on the setting, local regulations, as well as employer discretion.

The numbers refer to the specific professional level from the categories explained in the definitions section below. The (+) refers to the cited level number and above. The (-) refers to less than the level number cited. These are the most common positions in the field of early childhood, but there are many more related careers working with children and families in addition to those described.


The following is a description of types of positions in early childhood programs. Each description defines the position and provides the following information:

Description: A description of the position as it is most commonly used. These terms are used differently in various settings and geographic areas.

Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions: There are particular areas of knowledge that each position requires along with learned skills and personal qualities called dispositions.

Employment Settings: Listed for each position, are some typical locations or program settings where a person in that position might be employed. These settings are further described in the Settings section of this manual.

Required Qualifications: The qualifications necessary to hold that position are listed along with explanations of those requirements.

Preparation: Sources for obtaining the required qualifications are listed along with some examples of content and the process for licensing or certification if it is required.

Continuing Education: Requirements for continuing education are listed where they exist.

Licensure/Certification: Requirements and information on the process for licensure and/or certification is provided where applicable.

Alternate Pathways:There are other ways to achieve the required qualifications. This section will give you some suggestions for obtaining the qualifications if you cannot follow the traditional route, or if you already have some of the requirements and are in need of additional preparation.

Job Outlook: This gives an idea about the need for people to fill this position in the next few years. Keep in mind that all of this is dated information and needs to be adjusted for geographic location and settings.

Earnings: Information is provided where available that gives you an idea of the range of earnings for this position. This information is found in the Enhanced Occupational Outlook Handbook 3rd Edition (2000). Indianapolis, IN: VISF Publishers. Again, the information is dated and needs to be adjusted for geographic location, position qualifications, settings and length of service in that position.

Opportunities for Advancement: Job opportunities build upon this position for advancement in the field to a higher level of responsibility, usually requiring additional training and education.

Related Careers:Some alternative ways to use knowledge and skills without necessarily advancing or requiring additional training and education. These alternatives may be in three different areas:

  • Serving Children Directly
  • Serving Families Directly
  • Providing Information, Goods or Services

Preparation Level:Each position will have a number that corresponds to the level of preparation that position usually requires:

Level 1 – Individuals who are employed in an early childhood setting and work under supervision or with support. Qualifications – in most cases High School Diploma or GED.

Level 2 – Individuals who are employed in an early childhood setting and work under supervision and/or have sufficient experience with assessed competencies. Qualifications–successful completion of one-year early childhood certificate program or a Child Development Associate (CDA).

Level 3 – Individuals, who are employed in an early childhood setting, assume leadership tasks and have demonstrated knowledge, performance and dispositions and experience. Qualifications–associate degree with 30 units of professional studies in early childhood/childhood development, including a supervised teaching experience. Individuals who may be employed in public schools as paraprofessionals. Qualifications–Completed two years of higher education study or associate’s degree or met rigorous standards of quality and demonstrate thorough formal assessment.

Level 4 – Individuals who are employed in a leadership role. Qualifications–baccalaureate degree including demonstration of knowledge, performance and dispositions in a supervised teaching experience, and have initial teacher certification as of 2004, provisional teacher certification as before 2004.

Level 5 – Individuals who are employed in leadership and supervisory positions. Qualifications–master’s degree and successful demonstration of knowledge, performance and dispositions.

Level 6 – Individuals who are employed in leadership and supervisory positions. Qualifications–successful completion of EdD or PhD in related program with successful demonstration of knowledge, performance and dispositions that are expected for doctoral degree. Individuals who may be employed as public school administrators such as principals, prekindergarten and Early Childhood Directors, Superintendents. Qualifications Master’s degree, teaching certification, and Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS), which includes an administrative internship. The NYSED School District Administrators (SDA) certificate certifies an individual for all administrative positions and is permanent.