Associate of Child Care: Degree Overview

While not legally mandatory for child care workers, an associate degree is commonly required by employers in the industry. Students in these programs are trained in child development and get practical experience in a child care center.

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Associate of Child Care

Graduates of associate degree programs in child care, sometimes called child development or early childhood education, should be prepared to work with young children in schools or day care centers. They also might start their own child care businesses. An associate degree program in child care is a 4- or 5-semester course of study offered by vocational/technical schools and community colleges. Students learn about practical aspects of running a child care business, such as safety practices and administrative procedures, as well as about educational topics, such as language development and working with special-needs children. A student must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate to enroll in an Associate of Child Care program, and some schools require placement tests.

Course Topics

Students take courses in various aspects of early childhood education and child development. Business management skills pertinent to running a child care center also might be taught. Additionally, students gain experience working directly with children. Course topics usually include the following:

  • Nutrition for young children
  • Technology for educators
  • Special needs children
  • Language arts
  • Curriculum for early childhood education
  • Recognizing child abuse

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that jobs for child care workers could increase by 20% between 2010 and 2020 (www.bls.gov). The BLS attributed this anticipated growth in part to increased emphasis on the importance of education programs for young children. The median salary for child care workers in May 2012 was $19,510, the BLS reported.

Professional Certification and Continuing Education

According to the BLS, some employers prefer to hire child care workers who hold professional credentials. The Council for Professional Recognition offers the Child Development Associate (CDA) designation, while the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA) Commission offers the Child Care Professional (CCP) designation. Both organizations evaluate child care providers in several areas, including experience and communication with families, as well as through classroom observation. Renewing professional certification requires training updates through completion of continuing education classes. A graduate with an associate degree in child care might go on to earn a 4-year degree in early childhood education.

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