Caring for young children can be one of the most rewarding jobs in the world. Part teacher, part friend, part carer, jobs in childcare combine many aspects but are all rooted in keeping the children safe and happy. You will also support the children in reaching developmental milestones and help them to get ready to attend school.
Working in childcare requires patience, compassion, and excellent communication skills. You will need to be persistent and positive. Children require lots of encouragement, and it can be a tiring and challenging role.
There are a few different ways to qualify for a childcare role, from university courses and graduate assessments to apprenticeships. Each route has potential pros and cons depending on your circumstances and the entry requirements.
If you are considering an apprenticeship in childcare and want to know more, please keep reading. Our quick guide and FAQs will hopefully offer some insight into the different childcare apprenticeships available, and some of the other routes that are open to you.
What types of Childcare Apprenticeships are there?
The different types of childcare apprenticeship you can undertake are as follows:
- Early Years Practitioner Level 2
- Early Years Educator Level 3
- Children, Young People and Families Practitioner Level 4
The entry requirements for all three apprenticeships include being at least 16 years old and passing a DBS check. You must also be working at least 16 hours a week and have some experience of working with children.
Level 2 and Level 3 are both nursery apprenticeships, concerned with children from birth to five years old.
Early Years Practitioner Apprenticeship (Level 2)
This is a 12-month long course, plus around three months End Point Assessment (EPA). You will work alongside trained early years’ practitioners, directly interacting with children and their parents. You will learn how to recognise and deliver purposeful play opportunities, and support the planning and delivery of daily activities. You will be checked and assessed for the EYFS requirements for working with children. At the end of the course and subsequent assessment period, you will have earned a Level 2 Early Years Diploma and functional skills in Maths and English Level 1, if applicable.
This qualification is equivalent to five GCSEs.
Once trained, you can work in a range of settings including pre-schools, playgrounds, home-based provision, full daycare, children’s centres, social care settings and hospitals. The apprenticeship is designed to train you to meet the EYFS requirements set by the Government for children 0-5 in both indoor and outdoor settings.
Early Years Educator Apprenticeship (Level 3)
This apprenticeship is designed to prepare you to work within childcare at a supervisory level, or own your own. It takes longer, at 18 months, plus the three months EPA. This qualification is equivalent to two A-Levels.
Candidates will gain experience in managing a nursery, supervising a crèche, or supervising staff in a childcare setting. You will be providing childcare either on your own or overseeing others and will be given opportunities to demonstrate your capabilities and any prior experience in this area.
During the course, you will earn a Level 3 Early Years Educator Diploma and functional skills in Maths and English Level 2, if applicable. You will also complete the EPA, and earn a Paediatric First Aid certificate.
Level 4 Apprenticeship
The entry requirements are the same as Levels 2, and 3, and the apprenticeship takes the same amount of time as Level 3. However, this apprenticeship is not just a nursery apprenticeship, and you could be required to work in one of several settings. A children’s home, a secure children’s home or a residential special school are all possibilities. The children may range in age too.
The children may be living in a group or on their own with their families. You will be responsible for leading the child’s development plan and supporting the child and their family through day-to-day needs, social interactions, their health, and education.
At the end of the apprenticeship and assessment, you will have earned a Level 3 Diploma for Residential Childcare and functional skills in Maths and English Level 2, if applicable.
Nursery Assistant Apprenticeships
You may see some nurseries advertising nursery apprenticeships such as ‘nursery assistant’. This will usually be a Level 2 or sometimes Level 3 apprenticeship as outlined above. There may also be more specific details included, such as how many children would be in your care and their ages.
When you register for a childcare apprenticeship, you will be given access to a learning portal where you can access resources and course frameworks. You will also have a dedicated assessor and essential skills tutors to offer practical support through regular workplace visits, workshops, and remote learning sessions.
How Do I Find a Childcare Apprenticeship Near Me?
To find out about childcare apprenticeships in your area, you can visit job sites and set your search criteria to only display results for childcare apprenticeships within a specified distance of your postcode. You can also filter which level you are looking for and specify if you are willing to travel.
You can also apply to local nurseries or daycare facilities to check if they are running apprenticeships. Not that this is only likely to be chains of facilities.
What Would I Earn on a Childcare Apprenticeship?
The average wage for an early years apprentice is around £170 a week. However, this can rise as you can experience and qualifications.
Once you complete the apprenticeship, you’re earning potential will depend on your chosen role. For example, the average nursery manager salary in the UK is £30,000 – £35,000 per year.
Other Roles in Childcare
Early Years Teacher
To become an early years teacher, you will need to have GCSEs (or equivalent) of grade C or above in English, Maths, and Science and complete a degree. There are also professional skills tests in literacy and numeracy that you must pass to become a teacher. After that, you’ll need to complete your early years’ initial teacher training (ITT). You must also demonstrate that you have met the Early Years Teachers ‘Standards.
There are five training routes for becoming an early years teacher, depending on your previous experience and the level and relevancy of your prior qualifications.
- Graduate entry
- Schools Direct
- Graduate employment-based
- Assessment Only
The average starting salary for an early years teacher is approximately £25,000.
You can also become a childminder, caring for babies, toddlers, pre-school children in your own home. You would not need to complete an apprenticeship or a university course, but you would need to register with Ofsted and potentially a childminding agency. To register, you will need to complete a home-based childcare course covering the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). You will also need child protection training, a food safety qualification, and an up-to-date paediatric first aid course certificate.
Of course, you will also need to pass an enhanced DBS check.
Childminders earn an average yearly salary of around £22,000 – £27,000 but this can increase dramatically, if you are running your own business. It also depends on the number of children in your care.
If you are interested in working in childcare, an apprenticeship can be a great first step to put you on a rewarding career path with many options and opportunities for growth. We hope this guide has given you lots to think about and you feel more informed regarding your various choices.