Did you know that ‘why work with children?’ is Googled about 250 times every month? To a company like Koru Kids, where children are at the heart of everything, it’s a question with many obvious answers. Children are fun. They’re creative. They do unexpected things and make us see the world differently. They help us be better people, and aspire to be role models. They’re kind of cute, most of the time. And the entire future of the world rests in their tiny hands, and growing minds.
If you also think working with children is a no-brainer, you’re probably weighing your options. There are so many different jobs in childcare. Depending on your previous childcare experience and skills, a whole world of career options opens up. Let’s take a quick tour through the many different roles working with children.
Jobs working with children – jump to:
A nanny, sometimes called a babysitter, is a person that spends a few hours per week looking after children from one family. Some nannies join a ‘nanny share’ and look after two children from different families who live close to one another. Some nannies only provide wrap-around care, like after school help with picking children up from school and looking after them for the evening. Nannies can look after children of all ages—from tiny babies to teens.
Nannies are often expected to help out with a little bit of housework, and children’s homework. It helps to be creative, flexible, and calm if you’re a nanny. This is a great option for university students that are looking for part-time work, or anyone who has previous childcare experience, even if that’s just having had children of your own.
Average hourly wage in the UK: Starts at £8.36 per hour (£10.25–£13.95 with Koru Kids.)
If you are thinking about becoming a nanny in the UK, you can check if you are eligible to work with Koru Kids here.
A childminder is a person who looks after other people’s children in their own home. They often have children of their own, so they already have a suitable setting and previous experience looking after children. A childminder is self-employed and runs their own business. This means they can decide on availability. A childminder can look after 1–6 children under 8, but only 3 of those can be under 5.
A childminder is a middle-ground between a nanny and a nursery. They have a smaller setting with a ‘home-from-home’ feeling than a nursery, but would generally look after more children for more hours than a nanny. They also provide more early years education than a nanny is expected to—childminders have a real impact on the development of children in their home nursery. A childminder can earn well, since they get paid for each child they look after.
You won’t need any qualifications or degrees to start as a childminder, though you will need to have done some courses first. Koru Kids provide these as part of our free training for childminders. They include a first aid course, safeguarding training, and learning about the EYFS standards. Childminders also have to learn about things like running their own business, setting up their home, safe sleep and food hygiene.
An au pair is also called a ‘live-in nanny’. They’re a nanny that lives in the same household as the children they look after. This is a real full time position, and it’s a serious commitment to the family you work for. An au pair becomes a new family member, taking on a secondary parental role. The job can be tough—ask parents—but also very rewarding, like all jobs working with children.
An au pair doesn’t get paid very well, since they are also put up by the family and don’t have to pay for room and board. Au pairs are often travelling students deciding to take a gap year and see the world. It’s not generally something people make a career out of for life.
Average ‘pocket money’ in the UK: £70–£85 per week.
A nursery practitioner joins a nursery, a business that looks after larger groups of children from many different households in the community. The nursery will have an owner, and a manager, as well as staff dedicated to looking after finances, cooking dinners, cleaning the nursery and more.
Nursery practitioners have a similar role to childminders. They are responsible for looking after children’s physical and emotional needs, and work with younger children under the age of 5. They provide an engaging environment and routine to help small children develop. Some nurseries can have a higher stress environment due to large groups of children and many adults working together, so it’s good if you can handle lots of noise and input.
Average annual salary in the UK: Starts at £15,000, going up to £32,000 for nursery managers.
A reception teacher also works with small children, aged 3–5, but in a more educational capacity than a nursery practitioner. It’s a childcare job that requires a bachelor’s degree in childhood studies or early childhood development, and a further course to gain their Early Years Teacher Status.
Like a childminder or nursery practitioner, a reception teacher enters children’s lives at an early stage, making a big impact on their future. A reception teacher would be less involved in the physical care of children and focus more on the educational development only. This means their relationship with the child and the parents might not be as close as a childminder’s or nanny’s would. It also means they would end up with more paperwork and planning as part of their responsibilities.
Average hourly wage in the UK: Starts at £7.63.
Primary and secondary school teacher
Like a reception teacher, a primary or secondary school teacher would be responsible for the educational care of children. The focus on education grows with the age of the child. A teacher in primary or secondary school doesn’t just work with children, but spends a lot of time planning lessons and marking papers. They will have more children to look after by themselves, so have to find a way to keep a calm classroom. But they’re not always working with children. Many teachers work unpaid overtime for several hours every week, so it’s difficult to say what they get paid per hour.
Whether through a university course or training elsewhere, a teacher needs a solid understanding of childhood studies and child development. To teach in primary school you will also need to get QTS (qualified teacher status). This means it’s a profession you have to invest a lot of time and money in. But like all jobs working with children, it can be incredibly rewarding (and a bit tiring, too!).
Average annual salary in the UK: Starts at £23,000 per year.
We have also written an article about the different responsibilities teachers face.
If you love working with little children and you want to work with children who have special needs, you can become a SENCo. This stands for ‘special educational needs coordinator’, so you would be working with children who might need different kinds of support. This could be children on the autistic spectrum, for instance. You would require the training and education of a primary/secondary school teacher, but with further training and qualifications.
Average annual salary in the UK: Starts at £27,000 per year.
Forest School leader
If you love being around children and being outdoors, this could be perfect for you. Many nurseries and primary schools now offer training to their teachers so they can become Forest School leaders. Koru Kids include guided outdoor learning in their free training for Early Educators. We have a strong outdoor ethos. This means all childminders working with us become Forest School leaders, and get lots of support and activities to do with children outside. They get out in all weathers, every day. And they help children build a relationship with the natural world. Forest School leaders work with children to build a better future for the whole world.
Average annual salary in the UK: depends on profession. A Koru Kids Early Educator earns on average £42,000 per year, but this varies. Our calculator would let you find out what you could expect to earn. A primary school teacher as above.
A scout leader is another wonderful option if you want to work with children outdoors. You can be a section leader or a section assistant, with varying levels of responsibility. Scout leaders are often volunteers, so the position can be completely unpaid. This means it’s best to do this on the side of paid work. Scout leaders can share important life skills, and a love of nature with children. Koru Kids Early Educators are given activity cards and Forest School training that allows them to become ‘mini scout leaders’ of young children.
Average annual salary in the UK: from £0 to £35,000.
If you already practice yoga, or love it in theory, this could be an interesting route to working with children. There are popular online shows, but those yoga instructors are behind a screen. If you want to work with children in real life, find out if there’s interest in your area, and if enough families say ‘yay!’, you might want to set up your own business as a kid yoga instructor. You could always incorporate this into other jobs too. If you are a PE teacher, a childminder, or a nanny, make yoga sessions part of your weekly or daily routine with the children you work with.
Average annual salary: fluctuates depending on class attendants, expenses, and location, since you will be self-employed.
There are many other lines of work if you are looking for a job with kids: you could be a tutor, a social worker, a TA (teaching assistant), health visitor, paediatric nurse, or even a midwife. The jobs are very varied, but they all involve spending time with children, be they babies, toddlers, or older still. If you have questions about becoming a nanny or childminder, you might find the answers here.