What does an early childhood teacher do?

The role of an early childhood teacher includes ensuring children’s health and safety, assisting with personal hygiene when necessary, and observing, evaluating and reporting on children’s progress. Early childhood teachers supervise children in the playground and the classroom, and implement positive solutions to conflict and disciplinary issues. An early childhood teacher may also work with external professionals such as speech pathologists and child psychologists. They participate in school events and committees, and are qualified to work in government-owned pre-school centres, early education classes, community kindergartens and community childcare centres.

Tasks:

  • Devising learning programs
  • Structuring art and craft lessons
  • Chaperoning on excursions
  • Comforting sick or distressed children
  • Encouraging acceptance of diversity

What skills do I need to be an early childhood teacher?

To become an early childhood teacher you need a natural affinity for children and a genuine desire to nurture their development. Organisational skills are critical, and must be applied to generating learning programs and reporting learning outcomes. Patience and kindness are also key, as early childhood teachers are responsible for the emotional welfare of children as well as their educational development. The rewards of a career in teaching young children include the joy of watching them successfully progress through their early school years.

Skills/attributes
  • A desire to work with children
  • Patience and empathy
  • A good level of physical fitness
  • Advanced planning and organisational skills
  • Willingness to work outside of school hours

Specialisations

Teachers can work at many different levels of the education system, meaning there are many possible areas of specialisation. There are also diverse subject areas to choose from, and the potential to work with a diverse range of age groups, abilities and cultural backgrounds. In order to work as a teacher in the Australian public school system, you will be required to complete a tertiary qualification, generally a Bachelor of Education or postgraduate Master of Teaching.

Primary School Teacher

Working in the primary school system, teachers are expected to teach students from K-6 a range of basic literacy, numeracy, social science, creative expression and comprehension skills, ensuring their foundational skills are developed and nurtured early.

Secondary School Teacher

To work within the secondary education sector, teachers must complete a specialisation as part of their Bachelor of Education degree, completing the requisite amount of units in their teaching field. It is also possible to become a teacher through postgraduate.

Special Education Teacher

The special education sector caters to the needs of students with sensory, physical, emotional or intellectual disability or other learning impairment. It requires a lot of patience, care and planning and involves working collaboratively with parents, carers and health professionals. Special Education teachers instruct students in key life skills in addition to meeting educational goals.

ESL Teacher

Teaching English as a Second Language requires cultural sensitivity, a very good understanding of English and creativity in developing and adapting course materials to suit student needs. Teachers work across K-12 to improve students’ proficiency in English, using a range of assessment methods and teaching techniques.

Teacher Librarian

Working in either primary or secondary schools, teacher librarians ensure that appropriate resources are available to students. They assist in improving student literacy, coordinate distance education programmes, familiarise students with information technology and research methods and manage the library facilities.

Accredited Childcare Worker

An accredited childcare worker is able to provide a creative and supportive environment in which children can learn and play. Completion of a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care is necessary for accreditation, allowing you to take on more senior roles in out of school hours care and preschool environments.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) Lecturer

VET lecturers provide targeted industry-based instruction to students hoping to enter a specific professional industry. Completion of a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and relevant professional experience in your subject area will allow you to conduct classes, workshops or courses in your specialty area.

Head Teacher

Head Teachers report to the school principal, overseeing the teachers in their specific department such as science or English. In addition to teaching classes, they provide assessment for the teachers in their subject area and perform administrative and management roles.

School Principal

Principals oversee the performance and welfare of a school as a whole and the student body. Working closely with the heads of department and administrative staff, they approve the educational program in line with prescribed curriculum goals, organise fundraising programs and enrolment drives. They are generally very experienced teachers with a thorough understanding of the education system.

Study pathways for early childhood teachers

Becoming an early childhood teacher requires tertiary study, as well as ongoing professional development to ensure you remain on top of changes within the education sector and your chosen subject area or field.

Getting Started

These courses will qualify you to work in the education sector as support staff, or in childcare; a great introduction to the world of teaching and your future career.

Skill Building

Completing a bachelor’s degree in education will allow you to pursue employment as a professional teacher in Australian schools.

Professional Development

Additional training is available for those refining their skill set or pursuing a specialisation.

Industry Recognition

In order to work as an early childhood teacher you will need to join the register of qualified teachers in your state. Find out more in our resources section.

Getting a job after graduation

Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your early childhood teacher career. Take a look at our sample resume and cover letter and put your best foot forward when you apply for education jobs.

Job Prospects and Salaries

With Australia’s population increasing, teaching is a profession that is always in demand. Qualified early childhood teachers are able to find employment nationwide, with further predictions of steady growth in future employment rates.