Early childhood educators and assistants (NOC 4214)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Early childhood educators (ECEs) work with young children from birth to age five. They create and run educational programs that fuel children’s intellectual, physical, social and emotional growth. Early childhood educator assistants (ECEAs) work under the supervision of ECEs.

Watch the video below to see what a day in the life of an early childhood educator is like.

Common job titles
  • aide / worker - daycare / nursery school
  • daycare assistant / attendant
  • early childhood program assistant
  • ECE (early childhood educator)

Duties

Early childhood educators (ECEs) and assistants (ECEAs) work hands-on with children to:

  • Teach with stories, music, play, field trips, art, drama and movement
  • Help each child participate and succeed
  • Protect children’s health and safety
  • Help children learn good eating, dressing and toileting habits
  • Help each child build their sense of identity and belonging
  • Observe and value each child’s way of expressing themselves
  • Assess learning and development
  • Deal with signs of learning, development and behavioural issues
  • Provide fair but firm discipline
  • Respect the culture of all children
  • Work with Indigenous children in ways that are respectful and attentive

They also:

  • Do paperwork and keep records
  • Develop teaching aids and projects
  • Maintain and clean equipment
  • Prepare food
  • Create indoor and outdoor spaces for play and learning
  • Evaluate educational programs
  • Take part in professional development
  • Build relationships with co-workers, children’s families and community services
  • Communicate regularly with parents and guardians

ECEs may also supervise and mentor others, including ECEAs and students.

ECEs and ECEAs use the B.C. Early Learning Framework to guide their work. They must keep up the standards set out in B.C.’s Child Care Licensing Regulation.

Work environment

Most early childhood educators (ECEs) and assistants (ECEAs) work in licensed settings such as child-care centres, StrongStart BC centres, before- and after-school programs or preschool programs. These can be located in schools, community centres or workplaces that offer child care to their employees. The work is varied, depending on the setting.

ECEs and ECEAs may work full time or part time, and hours can vary. Preschool and school-based programs usually run during the school year. Most child-care centres are open all year. They may have longer hours or use staggered shifts to fit the needs of working parents. There is a growing demand, for example, for late-night child care by parents who work shifts.

Working with young children and families can be very rewarding. It can also be physically and emotionally demanding. Workers may suffer back strain or other discomfort from time spent standing, walking, sitting on the floor, bending and lifting. They can be exposed to illness by sick children, as well as to challenging issues in the classroom.

Insights from industry

This work can be challenging and the pay can be low. This leads to a high turnover of workers and regular vacancies.

Rural areas continue to have a shortage of qualified workers. Educators certified to work with children with special needs, infants or toddlers are also in especially high demand.

In addition, the B.C. government has committed to significantly increase the number of child-care spaces across the province. As a result, 8,600 more early childhood educators will likely be needed over the next decade.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Recent graduates often find jobs in child-care centres, preschools, community centres or parks and recreation departments. They may be hired as early childhood educators (ECEs) or assistants (ECEAs), support workers for children needing extra help, or before- and after-school programmers.

With more education, ECEAs can become ECEs.

Experienced ECEs can manage programs within an agency or become an agency’s executive director. Some operate private child-care facilities. Those with more education may become infant development consultants, supported child development co-ordinators, child-care directors, administrators for early childhood education centres, or ECE instructors in colleges or universities. Some may choose to train to work as educational assistants with school-aged children.

Additional resources