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As the economy continues to add jobs, dedicated and trained child care workers should remain in demand. Because of the anticipated growth in this field, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment opportunities for child care workers could increase by as much as 14 percent from 2012 to 2022. Online child care programs prepare students for a number of careers in this industry, including those that involve hands-on care and also administrative positions. Regardless of which path is chosen, students who get started with their education now will be in a good position to take advantage of the many opportunities that will inevitably arise in the future.

Online Child Care Degree Programs

When it comes to child care careers, the timeline to earn a degree can vary widely. Child care workers, for example, may need anything from a high school diploma to a certificate in early childhood education. It all depends on their employer and any applicable state requirements. However, the BLS encourages earning a certification to improve job prospects.

Preschool teachers can generally earn a certificate in early childhood education as a requirement for entering into the field. Some preschool teachers, especially those in Head Start programs, may also be required to earn an associate degree or even a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field. Preschool teachers at public schools are almost always required to have a bachelor's degree, notes the BLS. Certification in CPR and first aid may not always be a requirement, but both can improve one's job prospects.

The following table includes the most common online child care degrees available and how long they take to complete. Also included in the table are some careers that the corresponding degree can help you qualify for:

Degree

Timeline for Completion

Applicable Careers

Certificate

Typically six months to two years.

Child care worker, preschool teacher, personal care aide

Associate's degree

Typically two years of full-time study

Child care worker, preschool teacher

Bachelor's degree

Typically four years of full-time study

Preschool teacher, kindergarten and elementary school teacher

Career Outlook for Child Care Graduates

Although employment opportunities in child care generally depend on the economy and local job market, the future looks bright for these workers. As the BLS notes, regions with higher than average population growth are the most likely to see the biggest increases in childcare-related employment. The following table illustrates some of the most popular childcare careers along with the average salary and potential growth for each during the next decade.

Career

National Annual Mean Wage, May 2014

Projected National Growth 2012-2022

Personal Care Aides

$21,210

49%

Childcare Workers

$21,710

14%

Preschool Teachers

$32,040

17%

Preschool Special Education Teachers

$57,860

17%

Elementary School Teachers

$56,830

12%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Choosing the Right School

While earning a degree was once something that required a huge commitment, it is now easier than ever to earn a degree during your spare time or even on evenings and weekends. Online child care degrees have even made it possible for students to finish their education without leaving the workforce, all while completing their coursework from the comfort of their own homes.

All online child care programs are not created equal, however. It is not only important for you to consider whether or not the school you plan to attend is accredited, and whether your chosen program lends itself to the licenses and certifications you need.

For example, some states require preschool teachers to earn the Child Development Associate (CDA) certification offered by the Council for Professional Recognition, while others only recognize the Child Care Professional (CCP) designation offered by the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation. Before you choose a program, it is essential to know whether it will help you achieve the type of certification that is necessary for your career.

As you explore the different online child care programs available, you'll probably come up with additional questions that can help you narrow your options down further. Here are a few you might consider:

  • Does this program offer online tech support?
  • Is this online program conducive for interaction with my instructors and peers?
  • Does this degree program offer job placement assistance?
  • What are the tuition costs involved in earning this degree?
  • Can I complete my coursework at any time, or will I be required to attend virtual meetings or attend group work?
  • Can I study part-time?

Once you answer the most important questions and find a degree program that works, you could be on the path towards a lucrative career in child care in no time. So don't wait; start exploring the many online child care programs that are available.

Sources:

Childcare Workers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/childcare-workers.htm#tab-1

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-1

May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#39-0000

Personal Care Aides, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/personal-care-aides.htm#tab-1

Preschool Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm#tab-1

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