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.
Estimated median employment income based on 2021 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))
Note:Estimated median employment income based on 2021 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))
Source: 2021 Job Bank Wage Report
Source: B.C. Labour Market Outlook
10 year expected job openings: 8,630
Early childhood educators (ECEs) and assistants (ECEAs) work hands-on with children to:
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.
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.
Source: 2016 Census
Early childhood educators (ECEs) and assistants (ECEAs) must be certified in order to work in most licensed child-care programs. There are five levels of certification:
ECEs must complete an early childhood education program at a recognized university or college. They can then be certified through the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development. ECEAs can earn a certificate after taking courses in child development, children’s well-being and curriculum planning. ITEs and SNEs must be certified as ECEs before taking their additional training and certification.
To stay certified, workers must continue to do professional development, get work experience and meet character and skill requirements.
The ECE Education Support Fund offers grants for professional development and education.
ECEs who are certified for that occupation by a regulator elsewhere in Canada can apply for the same certification from the regulator in B.C. Under the terms of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), most applicants who are transferring their credentials from elsewhere in Canada will not be required to complete additional training or testing. However, the B.C. regulator may ask applicants to provide further information such as a letter of good standing, references, or criminal record check.
For those who trained outside of Canada and never received certification from any Canadian jurisdiction, a full assessment is likely needed. Most occupational regulators have a process for assessment and recognize internationally trained applicants.
Contact the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development: Early Childhood Educator Registry for details on how to apply for certification in B.C.
For information about labour mobility in Canada, visit www.workersmobility.ca.
View a list of B.C. occupational regulators.
For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.
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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.
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.