Become a Day Care Owner: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a day care owner. Research the education and career requirements, training and licensure information and experience required for starting a career in day care ownership.

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Do I Want to Be a Day Care Owner?

Day care owners are childcare workers who provide a place, either in their home or in a commercial facility, for children of working parents to stay during the day. They're responsible for the safety, health, nutritional needs and educational development of children.

These workers are often self employed, which allows them to set their own schedules. However, day care owners may need to work long hours to accommodate parents' work schedules. Both full- and part-time work may be available.

Job Requirements

Day care owners are required to be licensed and typically have some form of postsecondary education. They might earn a certificate or associate's degree in early childhood development or an education-related subject. Professionals also might want to earn certification as a Child Development Associate. The following table outlines common requirements to become a day care owner:

Common Requirements
Degree Level A degree isn't required, but postsecondary education may improve job prospects*
Degree Field Early childhood development, education or related field*
Licensure and Certification Many states require licensure; national certification may be required by states and employers*
Key Skills Strong verbal and written communication, ability to instruct, patience, people skills*
Computer Skills Proficiency in calendar/scheduling, word processing and educational software**
Additional Requirements Clean criminal background, current immunization record, CPR, first aid certification, physical stamina*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **O*NET OnLine.

Step 1: Consider Earning an Associate's Degree

While no formal education is required for this career, the BLS reported that having a certificate or degree, such as an associate's degree in child development or early childhood education, can help aspiring day care owners find entry-level work in childcare and can expand career opportunities. The BLS pointed out that starting in 2013, Head Start programs will require workers to pursue an associate's degree or credential in a childcare field. Community colleges often offer associate's degree programs in child development and early education. Courses of study may include child psychology, first aid, sociology, safety and nutrition.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Before a childcare worker can operate his or her own day care, he or she must have prior experience in a childcare setting, such as another day care or a preschool or kindergarten class. Aspiring day care owners can benefit from working alongside experienced professionals and learning new skills and childcare techniques outside of a classroom setting.

Success Tip:

  • Consider certification. While certification may not be required in every state, it can help aspiring daycare owners stand out as professionals in the field. The Council for Professional Recognition awards the Child Development Associate credential to workers who meet eligibility requirements for education and experience, provide parent surveys, submit to observation and complete an exam. Individuals who have teaching experience can obtain the Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) designation from the National Child Care Association. In order to earn the CCP, workers must have a high school diploma, have completed 720 hours of teacher-supervised classroom experience within the last five years and pass an exam.

Step 3: Develop a Business Plan

Because day care owners are essentially self-employed, they must develop a business plan to decide how their daycare will be run. Day care owners must decide if they intend to operate their business from their homes or if they want to rent or purchase a facility to house the daycare. Owners will also need to create a budget, consider hiring additional employees and deal with marketing and promoting their businesses. Additionally, owners must be sure that their business plan follows all state laws and regulations regarding childcare centers.

Step 4: Obtain Licensure

Most states require day care centers and family childcare providers to be licensed to ensure that children are receiving quality care in a safe environment. Some states require an orientation as part of the registration/licensure process. License application requirements vary by state, but can include background checks of staff, proof of required training for each employee, home inspections and copies of corporate documents.

Step 5: Continue Education

Day care owners may complete continuing education to assist them with the daily tasks of operating a business. Continuing education is required to renewal certifications. Owners can take individual courses in business administration, accounting or management, or enroll in a higher degree program, such as a bachelor's program in child development or education.

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