New guide to early years careers for school leavers

A woman reads to two little boys outside as they play with a plant pot.

We have launched a guide packed with expert advice to help school leavers kickstart a career in early years and childcare.

The guide features tips from experienced practitioners. It is part of our early years recruitment campaign, ‘Make a change. Build a future'. The campaign aims to inspire people to enter or return to the sector. It also aims to support aspiring childminders.

Tips for starting a career in early years and childcare

  1. Start your early years career regardless of prior qualifications. There are no boundaries to starting in early years. Some courses may require GCSEs in maths and English. If you don’t have these, you can still pursue early years and childcare roles. Apprenticeships offer the chance to gain suitable English skills while you study. Find out more about routes into childcare. 
  2. Gain relevant work experience. Spend time volunteering in an early years setting or babysitting to ensure it’s the right fit for you. 
  3. Consider your pathway. Choose the learning style that suits you best. This could be an apprenticeship or college course. Apprenticeships offer practical experience and income. College courses combine classroom learning and practical placements. Each job vacancy will outline the requirements of the role. Find out more about early years qualifications.
  4. Choose the right setting. Research different settings to find one that aligns with your interests. It could be a nursery offering year-round places from birth, a preschool or an outdoor nursery.
  5. Take opportunities to grow. The sector offers many professional development opportunities. These include courses in first aid, safeguarding, Makaton and special educational needs.
  6. Consider further training to advance in your career. There are many career paths in early years. With hard work, you could soon be a room leader or work your way up to nursery manager. If you decide to specialise, you could become a special educational needs coordinator. If you're entrepreneurial, you could work to set up your own early years setting one day.
  7. Be flexible. Early years settings are open from early in the morning to early evening. You'll need to be flexible with your working hours. There are also options to work part-time or term-time only.
  8. Be creative. Children need to be inspired in different ways so it’s important to be creative. Activities vary from exploring outdoors to developing language through nursery rhymes. There’s flexibility to design activities and keep every day interesting.
  9. Challenge the stereotype. Early years offers great opportunities for men to work in childcareOnly 2% of practitioners in school and group-based providers, and 3% of childminders are male. The sector is keen to welcome more men. Men can provide a positive role in educating and caring for the future generation. This includes helping children to prepare for their next stage in learning.
  10. Have fun and make a difference every day. A career in early years is fun and fulfilling. If you have a caring nature and a passion for childcare, this could be the perfect path for you.

We offer a range of pathways into early years and childcare. Find out how to get a job in early years and childcare

Search for current early years and childcare vacancies.


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