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Becoming a Male Childcare Worker: Everything You Need To Know
Childhood education is an extremely female-dominated industry. But in the last few years, male childcare workers are becoming more common.
Australia is breaking away from the gender stereotype that only women could or should work with young children. Men in childcare are being recognised for the unique attributes and skills they bring to the role, making it an excellent time for men to begin working in childcare.
It’s an excellent career opportunity where you’ll get to make a difference in the lives of Australia’s youngest generations.
As with stepping into any gender-dominated industry, you might have a few hesitations about how you’ll be received. But with gender stereotypes fading, if you step into your career backed with a recognised qualification and a strong skillset, you’ll find a lot of success.
Childcare Workers Explained
Childcare workers generally work with children of all ages between 0-12. There’s a high demand for childcare works in both full-time and part-time roles, such as:
- Childcare centre workers and managers
- After-school program carers
- Kindergartens teachers & teacher’s aides
- Primary school teacher’s aides
Childhood educators are required to be in frequent contact with parents, guardians and schools to ensure the most supportive and collaborative environment for the child. Because these early years are essential for a child’s development, both socially and intellectually, childcare workers are an integral part of these developmental years.
Some of the key responsibilities that childcare workers have are:
- Child safety
- Education and support
- Time management
- Activity planning and execution
- Child discipline
- Hygiene maintenance
- Food preparation
- Communication with parents/guardians
Skills you need to thrive as a childcare worker
Childcare workers need to have an array of skills and qualities to give kids the best care and education.
Soft skills are just as important as technical skills in this industry. Your innate qualities, like being a natural entertainer, a great communicator, and radiating warmth will allow you to make the room a comfortable place. That’s the first step in providing quality care.
The hard skills you learn in a childcare qualification will help you to teach, nurture, and instruct the children in your care.
Soft skills for childcare workers
- Decision making skills
- Communication skills
- Enthusiastic nature
- Natural entertainer
- Time management
- Logic and analytical skills
Technical skills for childcare workers
- Planning and instruction
- Child education knowledge
- Classroom management
- Understanding of children’s nutritional needs
- Ability to teach hygiene and life skills
It’s crucial to learn the technical childcare skills in a formal setting, where you’ll get insights and advice from professionals. Working with children can be a high stakes job at times, because all responsibility lies on you. It’s best to be prepared for any situation by getting a formal qualification.
Childcare industry outlook
Future industry growth for childcare is very strong, with an estimated 36,800 job openings per year until 2023. Furthermore, childcare work offers both full-time and part-time roles. Currently, 47% of childcare workers work full-time. That means there’s plenty of opportunities to work part-time if you need the flexibility to focus on other priorities, such as family.
job openings / year
work full time
Future industry growth for childcare is very strong, with an estimated 36,800 job openings per year until 2023. Furthermore, childcare work offers both full-time and part-time roles. Currently, 47% of current childcare workers work full-time. That means there’s plenty of opportunities to work part-time if you need the flexibility to focus on other priorities, such as family.
The average childcare worker wage is $21-$30 per hour, depending on the center, the childcare worker’s education and experience. 31.8% of childcare workers obtain a Diploma or Advanced Diploma of Education, with another 25.6% completing a Certificate III or IV.
Currently, 95% of childcare workers are female, and this needs to change.
Breaking Old Stereotypes
To be a childcarer has always been considered women’s work. The assumption that women are more “nurturing” by nature has led to attitudes that they are best suited to jobs involving children. As much as we would like to deny it, we are often surprised when we meet or hear of a male childcare worker because, for generations, it wasn’t considered a “man’s job.”
What’s important to realize here is that the children won’t notice an abnormality in having a male teacher – rather the parents might. It takes a lot of preparation and trust for some parents to put their child’s safety in someone else’s hands.
Children won’t notice an abnormality in having a male teacher – rather the parents might.
Hence, there’s sometimes misplaced apprehension when this person is a male carer. These hesitations come from a place of unfamiliarity and the remnants of old attitudes. In the back of parents’ minds, these can cause worries that perhaps a male presence won’t be as nurturing or patient as a female’s, or that a male’s presence is incompatible with the industry.
We are slowly dismantling gender stereotypes, as new evidence displays that male figures in childcare are exceptionally beneficial and essential for a child’s development.
Slowly but surely, the childcare industry is becoming more accepting and supportive of male carers.
A study conducted by the former National Childcare Accreditation Council (NCAC), and current Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority, found that a male presence in a childcare environment:
- Helps children recognize and evolve their gender identity
- Encourages equal, respectful relationships
- Promotes a healthy male gender role, that does not display aggression or emotional detachment
- Provides a positive male role model for kids during some of their most formative years
- Helps break the stigma that men can’t be equally as good early childhood educators when compared to their female colleagues
It’s also important to note that as males become more involved with this industry, there’s more research and steps put in place to encourage the recruitment of male childcare workers. Slowly but surely, the childcare industry is becoming more accepting and supportive of male carers.
What are the rewards of working in childcare?
Use your creativity everyday
To engage young minds you’ll have to come up with new, fun activities everyday. Children also have the most imaginative brains, and being surrounded by them all day will definitely rub off on you.
Have a real impact on young lives
Being a childcare worker is so much more than just ensuring a child’s needs are met. You’re helping them grow into their personalities, minds, and the world. With your support they’ll learn, gain life experiences, and become confident in themselves.
Plenty of jobs and room to grow
Childcare is a steadily growing industry, and that’s a massive benefit in a world where more and more jobs are being automated. The industry’s strong growth is projected to continue well into the future, which creates an abundance of opportunities for childcare workers. There’s plenty of career advancement in childcare, making the job even more fulfilling.
Great work/life balance
Childcare isn’t a 9-5. Depending on where you work, you’ll have a level of flexibility with your hours. Less than half of childcare workers are full-time (49%) which means shift work is the norm. This is great if you love having variety in your day, and means you can build work around your life (rather than the other way around).
How to Become a Childcare Worker
Most childcare workers obtain either a nationally recognized Certificate or Diploma qualification in Childcare or Education. Each qualification takes a different length of study to complete. There are courses available in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland, and Northern Territory.
- Certificate III in Childcare
- Certificate IV in Childcare
- Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care
- Certificate IV in Early Childhood Education and Care
A Certificate III or IV in Childcare or Early Childhood Education & Care is a great stepping stone into the childcare industry and is one of the most popular qualifications for this industry. A certificate will teach you all the basics there is to know when it comes to caring for and educating children within the requirements of the Education and Care Services National Regulations, as well as the National Quality Standard. Many who complete this qualification find themselves working in daycare centres.
A Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care or a Diploma of Child Care is a more advanced qualification that takes longer to complete. With a diploma, you can enter the workforce at a higher level due to your more in-depth knowledge of learning frameworks, strategies, and child handling. Many who complete this qualification progress into senior positions as they gain experience, including childcare center managers.
Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
For those who wish to jump headfirst into this industry, and become a fully qualified early childhood teacher, a Bachelor’s degree is a great idea. A Bachelor’s degree is usually three years of full-time study, including work placement. It will give you the tools and in-depth knowledge of child development, learning frameworks, and leadership qualities you will need to become a senior carer or manager.
The benefits of having more men in childcare are becoming increasingly apparent, causing the stigma of hiring males as child carers to be less present. So, if you’re a nurturing, fun-loving guy who loves helping children learn, the childcare industry needs you!
Becoming a Child Care Worker: Everything You Need to Know
Want to learn more about the child care industry and how you can pursue this super rewarding career? Check out our hub full of handy child care resources.
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