Childcare Careers – What Career Paths Can You Follow?

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With 108,000 childcare workers employed in the Cardiff region, the sector is a popular choice for those who are passionate about working with children.

There are lots of childcare routes to look into, and clear options for progression across the industry.

We’ve rounded up 10 rewarding career paths you could embark on, using salaries from the National Careers Service to show what you could be earning.

What childcare careers are available?

There are plenty of opportunities in the childcare sector, from early years education to childminding, and more.

Some of the careers you could plump for include:

  • Nursery worker
  • Nursery manager
  • Childminder
  • Nanny
  • Pre-school assistant

Working with children is a key skill which enables you to move into different roles within the sector. For example, you may switch your nursery job for a childminding position, but you’ll be able to take your knowledge and qualifications with you.

What is the highest paid job in childcare?

Childcare salaries vary based on the provider and sometimes, the location of the position.

An experienced nursery manager could be earning £32,000 while an experienced play therapist could get up to £45,000.

Gaining qualifications and valuable work experience can help you move up the ladder to reach the highest-paying jobs in the industry.

10 rewarding careers in the childcare sector

Nursery worker

A nursery worker, or nursery assistant, will work closely with children in a nursery setting.

They’ll plan activities, make sure the children are fed, and note down anything their parents might need to know.

Nursery assistants are vital in the setting as they provide full-time care for little ones.

Depending on experience, nursery workers could get paid between £14,000 and £24,000.

Nursery manager

A nursery manager will oversee the day-to-day running of the nursery, and handle the finances behind the scenes.

Working with their colleagues across the business, they’ll make sure every child is well cared for, and chat with parents or guardians to keep them updated on their little one’s progress.

A nursery manager could earn up to £32,000 if they have lots of experience in the role.


Childminders will often care for children in their own home, rather than in an official setting like a nursery.

A childminder will keep children busy with activities such as outdoor learning, as well as preparing food, and picking children up from playgroups or schools.

As a childminder is self-employed, they can set their own hours and rates, but they’ll typically charge around £5 an hour.


Playworkers are key in enabling children to play and discover the world for themselves.

In a playworker role, you could expect to provide materials for children to interact with and set up games for them to play with.

A playworker’s salary sits between £15,000 and £25,000, with more experienced individuals hitting the top end of the scale.

Health play specialist

A health play specialist takes a more in-depth approach to play, typically in a hospital setting.

They’ll work with children who are receiving treatment and tailor activities, sometimes even taking play to the child’s bedside.

A play therapist can be a challenging yet rewarding career, bringing a smile to the faces of little ones.

They can earn between £22,500 – £31,534 for the work they do.


A nanny, or au pair, lives in the child’s home, providing around-the-clock care to them.

They’ll be responsible for a lot of the childcare, such as feeding the children, keeping play areas safe, and playing with the children throughout the day.

The average wages for a nanny can be up to £27,000 but they can also benefit from free meals and lodging at their employer’s house.

Nursery nurse

Nursery nurses look after children under seven years of age.

They can spend time reading with the little ones, helping with toilet needs, and taking part in arts and crafts.

As a nursery nurse, you’ll be paid a Band 3-4 salary at Band 3-4; that equates to £21,730 as a starting figure and moves up to £26,282 when you have over three years’ experience.

Early years teacher

Working with children under five, an early years teacher works in a nursery or school to educate children.

You’ll encourage little ones to learn, often using play to help them fine-tune key skills.

An early years teacher is responsible for planning classes with the children and keeps in touch with parents and guardians to inform them of the children’s progress.

An annual salary for an early years teacher could be between £25,714 and £36,961.

Teaching assistant

Working within a school environment, a teaching assistant helps a teacher to deliver lessons and supports the children throughout the day.

You could start your career as a teaching assistant, before taking further qualifications to become a teacher yourself.

Teaching assistants earn between £12,621 and £23,000, and you can take an apprenticeship to kickstart your career.

Special educational needs teaching assistant

Helping teachers within special needs schools, a special educational needs teaching assistant could be a rewarding career for you.

You’ll help each child based on their individual needs, as well as collaborating with other professionals to give children as much support as possible.

A special needs teaching assistant will earn the same salary as a teaching assistant.

Kickstart your career in childcare

To get your childcare career off to a flying start, you could take an apprenticeship where you’ll learn on the job.

We offer a range of programmes, designed to help you progress in your career and develop as a childcare practitioner.

See the apprenticeships we offer, and how to apply here.

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Richard Hywood
Richard is TSW Training Apprenticeships’ Employer and Community Engagement Manager. His articles will help your business prepare for and manage apprentices.
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