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 give students an opportunity to learn skills that can be useful in a number of careers in this industry, including those that involve hands-on care and also administrative positions.
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%|
|Preschool Special Education Teachers||$57,860||17%|
|Elementary School Teachers||$56,830||12%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014
Choosing the Right School
Online child care degrees have made it much more viable for students to finish their education without leaving the workforce. 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 (the answer to this question should always be, "Yes, the school I plan to attend is accredited,") but also 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 can 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 am I required to attend virtual meetings or participate in group work?
- Can I study part-time?
- 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