Early childhood educators and assistants (NOC 4214)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Early childhood educators and assistants lead children in activities to stimulate and develop their intellectual, physical and emotional growth, and ensure their security and well-being.

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Early childhood educator

People in this occupational group may work for child-care centres, kindergartens, StrongStart programs, and agencies for exceptional children.

Early childhood educators plan, engage, organize and carry out programs for children ranging from infancy to the age of 12. They have strong relationships with children and families.

Early childhood educator assistants provide care for children, with guidance from early childhood educators.

Supervisors of early childhood educators and assistants are included in this unit group.

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


Early childhood educators:

  • develop and implement child-care programs that support and promote the physical, cognitive, emotional and social development of children
  • lead activities by telling or reading stories, teaching songs, taking children to local points of interest and providing opportunities to express creativity through the media of art, dramatic play, music and physical activity
  • plan and maintain an environment that protects the health, security and well-being of children
  • assess the abilities, interests and needs of children and discuss progress or problems with parents and other staff members
  • observe children for signs of potential learning or behavioural problems and prepare reports for parents, guardians or supervisor
  • guide and assist children in the development of proper eating, dressing and toilet habits
  • establish and maintain collaborative relationships with co-workers and community service providers working with children
  • may plan and organize activities for school-age children in child-care programs before and after regular school hours
  • may supervise and co-ordinate activities of other early childhood educators and early childhood educator assistants.

Early childhood educator assistants:

  • support early childhood educators in carrying out programs that promote the physical, cognitive, emotional and social development of children
  • engage children in activities by telling stories, teaching songs and preparing crafts
  • prepare snacks and arrange rooms or furniture for lunch and rest periods
  • assist with proper eating, dressing and toilet habits
  • submit written observations on children to early childhood educators or supervisors
  • maintain daycare equipment and assist in housekeeping and cooking duties
  • attend staff meetings to discuss progress and problems of children
  • may assist early childhood educators or supervisors in keeping records.

Work environment

Early childhood educators and assistants work in licensed daycare centres, infant and toddler centres, before- and after-school programs, nursery schools and preschool facilities. These job sites, which can be located in schools, community institutions or workplaces offering daycare to their employees, may vary widely in their nature and services.

Early childhood educators and assistants may work varied hours. Preschool and school-based programs typically operate only during the school year, offering approximately nine months of work to both full- and part-time workers.

Daycare centres are generally open throughout the year and may have extended hours to accommodate the needs of working parents. For example, there is a growing demand for late-night child care options to accommodate the needs of parents who work shifts. To help these families, daycare centres may employ both full- and part-time staff whose shifts are staggered to cover the entire day.

Working with young children can be very rewarding. However, these occupations can also be physically tiring, as workers are required to stand, walk, bend and lift items throughout the work day, possibly resulting in back strain or other muscular problems. You children can get sick so exposure to illness is a possibility.

Workers may also become emotionally fatigued, since working with children requires a great deal of patience. Other challenges include anticipating and preventing problems, dealing with disruptive children, providing fair but firm discipline and communicating effectively with children and parents of various cultural backgrounds.

Insights from industry

Some job openings will result from high worker turnover, which is typical in this occupational group, in addition to economic growth and the need to replace retiring workers. This turnover is generally a result of the low pay and the physically and emotionally challenging nature of the work.

Growth may be negatively affected by both a declining birth rate and a reduction in the number of women with pre-school-age children entering the workforce. However, an increasing number of single-parent families will continue to be an additional source of job growth for this group. As well, many parents are turning to formal child care arrangements because they prefer the more structured learning and social environment offered by a professional daycare facility.

A decrease in the number of people enrolling in recognized early childhood care programs in some areas of the province has led to increased demand for workers in these occupations. In particular, the more northern rural communities in B.C. are experiencing a shortage of qualified workers.

Greater job opportunities are expected for those providing daycare for a special needs clientele and infants. Demand for the latter group should be especially strong outside the Lower Mainland area of B.C. As well, as licensed daycare expands, caregivers with formal credentials will have more work opportunities. For example, industry sources report that those with an ECE diploma in special needs are being employed as teaching assistants in elementary school classrooms.

Men in this group may find particularly strong job opportunities in group care settings, since it is considered extremely desirable to have male role models.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Recent graduates may find employment in daycares, preschools, and parks and recreation programs. They may also be hired as early childhood educators or assistants, support workers for children requiring extra assistance, and before- and after-school care programmers.

With training and formal education, early childhood educator assistants can become early childhood educators, while early childhood educators can take on the management of several programs within an agency or advance to the position of executive director of an agency.

Workers with experience may progress to senior positions such as infant development consultants, supported child development coordinators, daycare supervisors, administrators for early childhood education centres and ECE instructors.

Experienced early childhood educators may also become private daycare operators.

Additional resources