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Successful Careers In Childcare And Early Years: Everything You Need To Know

It has been said that teaching is one of the most fulfilling careers that you can choose, but helping to form young people’s minds is a huge responsibility and, as with many jobs, it often requires a great deal of training and experience. 

In the UK, parents and guardians can choose between a variety of private, community, council, or workplace childcare options, available from ages 0-5 years before a child starts primary education. Providing high-quality learning and development experiences for children from a young age helps to prepare them for the rest of the formative years and can be an incredibly rewarding experience, although it’s fair to say it’s not a path that suits everyone.

Whilst there is no doubt that teaching children is a noble and fulfilling career, there is a great deal of training and education which has to take place in order to become successful in the industry. This is formed from a range of theoretical and physical learning, including apprenticeships which allow the student to get hands-on experience within the workforce and ‘earn whilst you learn’. 

At Real Skills, we’re passionate about learning and provide our students with the tools they need to create successful careers in childcare, no matter which area they choose to work in.

Different Types Of Careers In Childcare…

When most people think of childcare, they may automatically think of teachers, but there’s a huge range of different careers out there when it comes to this particular sector. The job can also vary depending on the type of institution that you choose to work in, especially as to whether you choose to work privately (directly with a family), or in a nursery environment.

Some of the different roles include:

Early Years Educator/Practitioner…

Early years educators are responsible for assessing the developmental needs of children and building solutions to address those specific needs. Their aim is to help children develop their social and intellectual skills by creating a range of activities centred around these types of advancement. This role usually works alongside infants, toddlers and preschool aged children, within a variety of locations including kindergartens, preschools, and childcare centres. 

Nursery Worker…

Typically, those working in a nursery are responsible for looking after a group of children in a childcare or daycare centre and ensuring their safety. There are a range of different roles within this setting, from nursery assistants (typically the entry-level role), all the way up to nursery manager. People will usually work their way up through a nursery and work with a variety of different age groups, from babies through to 4 or 5 (preschool age).

When it comes to early years careers, there is a great deal of experience that is required to a managerial level. Most will start out as an unqualified Early Years Worker, carrying out their studies alongside hands-on experience as a childminder or nanny, gradually working through their studies to become a teacher, practitioner, or manager.


Nannies are employed privately within a home and are typically quite experienced individuals who are paid well. They form a close bond with the child or children that they look after, and provide a safe and stimulating environment for helping those children to learn and develop. 


Babysitters are often considered a more ‘casual’ and less trained version of a nanny, often hired on a short-term basis to look after children whilst their guardians are working or away from the home. Their main duties are ensuring the children are safe, fed and cared for, without a huge amount of necessity to educate or develop them.

Au Pair…

An au pair is similar to a nanny, however, they usually live with the family of the children they care for. They are responsible for looking after their general needs on a day-to-day basis, and may also be expected to give them some form of tutoring or education. An au pair’s hours can vary hugely depending on the family, however, in return, they will usually receive a small wage alongside free accommodation and food. This role is often popular with workers from overseas as it’s seen as a way of visiting other countries on a budget. 

What Makes A Good Childcare Worker? 

As mentioned above, working within the childcare sector is not for everyone. There are a range of skills that are required in order to not only be suitable for a role but also to excel at it. One of the most important skills that a person must have is patience. As we’re sure you can imagine, working with children on a daily basis can be tiring and you are often faced with situations that will test your patience to the limit. Being able to put a smile on your face each day and not get frustrated is vital to ensuring happy children.

In addition to this, a person must be creative and know how to use their initiative. There are so many different scenarios that can arise when working with children, and it’s important to be on the ball and able to come up with solutions to keep everyone engaged.

Childcare can often come with long hours, so it’s also key to be hardworking and dedicated to the role. It’s often said that in order to work with children, you must really enjoy their company, and this is a crucial part of what makes a successful worker – not seeing the role as a ‘job’ per se, but more a vocation. 

Finally, this is an industry where it’s vital to be warm and friendly in your approach. Many of us can remember teachers from our childhood who were less than pleasant, and this is absolutely not a feature that bodes well for a successful career in childcare. Being approachable, open, and welcoming to those you care for can make a huge difference in how they respond to you and how fulfilling your career will be.

What To Expect From A Career In Childcare And Early Years… 

It’s probably wise to point out that in the childcare industry, you must expect the unexpected. No two days will ever be the same, and you will interact with a range of different children with different personalities, interests, and skills.

People working within this sector play a critical role when it comes to inspiring and supporting the development of children’s formative years and preparing them for their futures, and this is by no means something that should be taken lightly. There is a requirement to be a positive and strong influence on those that you are working with, and this is something that must be consistent throughout your time with them.

No matter what career path you choose from the start, this is an industry that offers a great deal of opportunity for progression, as well as sideways steps into other areas of interest should you so wish. Depending on your experience, education, and training, it can also be a well-paid career path to go down.

There will be different responsibilities and skills required for different roles within childcare. For example, someone working as a nursery assistant will largely be required to help with basic care needs such as feeding and changing children, planning appropriate games, and generally aiding their day-to-day development. 

Once you move up to a more managerial level, your responsibilities will be less hands-on, and more focused on providing strong management and leadership for those who work within the nursery. There are many other external factors that you will need to take into account as well, such as the requirements of parents and carers, Ofsted and the 

Early years foundation stage (EYFS) statutory framework. To get to this level, you will need to hold the relevant qualifications (often Early Years Level 3 at a minimum).

How Real Skills Training Kickstarts Careers In Childcare… 

At Real Skills, we specialise in a range of different courses and apprenticeships to help those who want to get into the childcare and early years sector achieve success.

The relevant training options we offer are:

Level 3 Diploma In Supporting Teaching And Learning…

This qualification will help you to develop your skills and knowledge as a teaching assistant in a school environment, enhancing your career prospects and preparing you for the workplace. The hybrid model of face-to-face learning and online workshops and support mean that you can complete the course in your own time, and once you’ve qualified, you will be fully prepared to work in an educational setting with children and young people, including those with learning disabilities and special educational needs (SEN).

This diploma is Awarded by NCFE Cache, the UK specialist organisation for children and adult care, and is recognised by employers. Once completed you could progress onto a Level 4 Higher Level Teaching Assistant course and further develop your skills.

Level 3 Diploma For The Early Years Workforce (EYE)…

This qualification will allow you to benefit from developing your skills and knowledge in early years, further enhancing your employability and career prospects within the industry. The course offers a range of face-to-face tutor support, online workshops, and eLearning content, meaning that you can work at your own pace. Once you achieve your Diploma, you will be ready to work with children aged 5 and below, with an understanding of children up to the age of 7.

This diploma is Awarded by NCFE Cache, the UK’s specialist organisation for children and adult care, and is recognised by the DfE as ‘Full and Relevant’ meaning it reflects the priorities of practitioners and employers to meet the needs of young children. This course is the leading qualification for anyone looking to work as a childminder, nursery practitioner, or pre-school childcarer.

Level 5 Children, Young People And Families Manager (Apprenticeship Standard)…

This apprenticeship is ideal for those who are or are looking to become a manager in children’s residential care or as a manager in the community in a range of settings in local authorities, within health organisations, educational and early years settings or children’s centres, as well as a wide range of private voluntary and community organisations. The course can be tailored to suit your specific needs, with the ability to choose from numerous units relevant to your aims and objectives. 

This apprenticeship gives you the relevant skills and knowledge in managing people and setting budgets with a focus on the early years sector. 

Our focus is on giving you the confidence and education required to advance your career and excel within the industry, whilst also giving you the advantage of being able to ‘earn while you learn’. 

Level 2 Early Years Practitioner (EYP) (Apprenticeship Standard)…

The EYP Level 2 apprenticeship standard is a brilliant way to advance your career and learn the skills you need to excel within the industry. This is suitable for both young people and adult learners, giving you access to our expert tutors and excellent online learning facilities. 

As with other apprenticeships, you will have the opportunity to earn a salary as you gain your qualification, as well as receiving practical experience within the workplace that can be transferred when you find a permanent role after completing the apprenticeship. 

Level 3 Early Years Educator (EYE) (Apprenticeship Standard)…

This apprenticeship is a great way to gain experience within the early years sector and provide yourself with useful and transferable skills to really excel. 

As with our other courses, you will be provided with excellent support from our experienced tutors, as well as online with our eLearning and workshop content. 

How To Book Your Training With Real Skills…

We excel at kickstarting careers in childcare, and are here to provide all the training and support you need.

To book onto either of the aforementioned Diploma courses, you need to have a placement in a voluntary or paid capacity within an early years setting. There will be a minimum number of hours required over the duration of the course (350 for EYE and 50 for teaching and learning). 

To apply for one of our apprenticeships, you will need to complete an initial assessment and skills check so that we can understand your current level of skills and knowledge and ensure that you are completing the correct level. You will need a GCSE or equivalent qualification in Maths and English at C or above, or that you are willing to undertake functional skills level 2 in Maths and English. 

If you’re interested in applying for any of the courses listed above or are looking for more information, please do not hesitate to get in touch by completing our online enquiry form.

Alternatively, you can call us on 0151 257 6969 or email We’re open from 8.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, and will do everything we can to help answer any questions you may have.

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