How to Become a Daycare Provider:
The Definitive Guide

Going to work and leaving your child in the care of someone is an important and scary part of many people’s lives.

That’s why there are Daycare Providers, who can help teach, play with, and interact with your child while you go to work.

As a Daycare Provider, it’s likely that you’ll spend many hours with children, singing the alphabet song or getting messy with paint.

It’s Important to be a kindhearted and caring person in this career, especially when taking care of infants and toddlers.

What is a Daycare Provider?

Daycare Providers are the backbone to the childcare system, especially when you run your own company.

In this career, you’ll offer daily care to children as young as newborns all the way up until the child is legally allowed to be home alone by themselves (per state law).

Some Daycare Providers work for large companies, and others work as independent contractors who can work both out of their home or a facility.

This career requires many hours of working with children, which can take a lot of stamina and patience.


With a career as a Daycare Provider, it will be your job to care for children while their parents work or go to school.

This can be done in a variety of ways, some of the tasks of a Daycare Provider are:

  • Keep children safe at all times
  • Create educational and fun activities
  • Develop learning plans
  • Take children on field trips
  • Prepare and serve food


On average, a Daycare Provider will bring in about $25,000 a year in the United States.

Those who work in large facilities may make more money, but also Daycare Providers who own their own business can see an increase in salary as well.

As a Daycare Provider with many years of experience and credentials, it’s possible to earn over $35,000 a year in this career.

When just beginning a career as a Daycare Provider, it’s possible that your annual salary will be closer to $18,000.

Areas like Washington DC and California pay their Daycare Providers the most, over $33,000, which is likely due to the high populations in those areas.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $27,680


Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$37,300
New Hampshire$24,490
New Jersey$31,450
New Mexico$25,120
New York$33,060
North Carolina$24,820
North Dakota$25,410
Rhode Island$29,710
South Carolina$23,120
South Dakota$23,720
West Virginia$22,130
Puerto Rico$19,920
Virgin Islands$26,430

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $37,300.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $37,300
California - $35,390
Massachusetts - $34,920
Washington - $34,020
Colorado - $33,340
*Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.
Conducted by: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

How to Become a Daycare Provider

Step 1Become Educated

There isn’t a legal requirement to have any formal education in order to work as a Daycare Provider, however it is necessary to have a high school diploma or a GED.

Those who plan to continue their career as a Daycare Provider would be wise to earn some type of degree, though.

Many people who are interested in working in this field will earn an Associates degree in something like Early Child Development or Early Childhood Education.

There are other ways to become educated as a Daycare Provider as well, for example, you can:

  • Volunteer at a Head Start program
  • Work your way up in a daycare center
  • Complete a childcare management program
  • Work as an assistant in a Head Start program

Regardless of what type of education you choose to earn as a Daycare Provider, it’s important to have patience and a love for teaching children. 

Step 2Gain Licensure

Even though you don’t need to have further education to enjoy a career as a Daycare Provider, you should have licensure, which is required in every state.

The process may vary depending on the state in which you live, but most of the requirements are:

  • Pay a fee, anywhere from $150 to $400
  • Attend an orientation class
  • Provide background and fingerprint checks
  • Proof of ownership of the house or facility you will work in

Some states may also require that Daycare Providers prove that they are mentally stable and equipped to take care of children.

Once you gain licensure, you will be able to work as a Daycare Provider in that state.

If you move or relocate your business, you will need to reapply for licensure.

A license lasts for three years, after which you will need to renew your credentials.

Step 3Pass Inspection

The next step on your quest to becoming a Daycare Provider is to pass a home inspection or a business inspection, depending on where you plan to run your daycare.

There are many state requirements that must be met before you can run a daycare from your home or other facility.

For example, you will need to provide the number of children you will be taking care of, and how many assistants you will have working at all times.

Other information you will need to provide on an inspection can include:

  • Building safety, such as fire exits and repairs
  • Nutrition of the food provided
  • How you will assist with diapering, bathing, and cleaning children

All adults in the building will likely need to have vaccinations as well in order to run the daycare legally.

Step 4Complete Training

Before you can open the doors to your new daycare center, it’s important that you catch up on CPR and first aid training.

These types of training sessions can be done online or in person at various facilities across the United States.

Some CPR and first aid training is free through local colleges or even the Red Cross.

In order to become certified in CPR and first aid, you will likely need to showcase your abilities after attending the training sessions.

CPR certification and first aid training must be renewed every 3 years in order to stay eligible and up to date with new equipment and techniques.

Some states may require that you renew these credentials every year.


As of now, it is not required by law to have any type of further education to run a daycare.

Many Daycare Providers attend some type of program in order to learn more about childcare and early childhood development.

One program that a Daycare Provider can attend is an Associate’s degree program from a community college or university.

Most Associate’s degrees take about two years to finish.

Another would be to earn a Bachelor’s degree, which takes about four years to finish for full-time students.

A degree in Early Childhood Development or Early Childhood Education can lead to a great career as a Daycare Provider.

These types of programs will focus on children and how their minds develop.

You’ll learn multiple ways to teach children, and maybe even sharpen up on some things you learned in school.

Most programs require that you take typical classes like math and English, as well as courses that may include:

  • Childhood Development
  • Safety and Nutrition
  • Children’s Literature
  • Early Childhood Administration
  • Inclusion and Ethics
  • Child Guidance
  • Curriculum Development

With an Associates degree in Early Childhood Education or Early Childhood Development, not only can you work as a Daycare Provider, but you will also be eligible for careers such as:

  • Program Director
  • Home Visitor
  • Infant-Toddler Teacher

If you want to make a life-long career out of working as a Daycare Provider, you can, but there are some options when it comes to earning a Bachelor’s degree as well.

A Bachelor’s degree can take another two years beyond an Associate’s degree.

It also provides opportunities to gain employment in careers like:

  • Child Life Specialist
  • Social Worker
  • Parent Educator
  • Early Childhood Education Consultant

Another option for those not interested in the long and sometimes arduous roads of a degree program may want to earn a certificate instead.

Early Childhood Professional Development certificates are available online and in-person in nearly every state.

Even the Red Cross provides childcare classes for those who want to touch up on the latest tips and knowledge.

Video About The Career

Certification and Licensing

Every state requires some type of licensure in order to work as a Daycare Provider, however many of them have different types of requirements.

This is because children are very important, and it takes a skilled professional to ensure their safety.

Every state will provide a packet to Daycare Providers, or anyone interested in the information, about the rules to own a safe and legal environment.

Take a look at your states childcare page for more in-depth information, however, many states will require that a Daycare Provider must:

  • Be at least 18 years or older
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have knowledge of first aid and CPR
  • Attend an orientation seminar

There will also be a necessity to prove knowledge or certification in areas such as:

  • Recognition and reporting child abuse
  • Preventing and controlling infectious diseases
  • Being able to suitably meet childrens’ needs

A license can cost anywhere from $150 to $400, depending on the state.

For example, working in states with higher populations may require you to pay more money.

Aside from the required licensure, it is possible to earn certification as a Daycare Provider.

A Certified Childcare Provider credential can be gained through the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation.

There will be requirements for this type of certification as well.

In order to gain certification as a Certified Childcare Provider, you must showcase expertise in areas such as:

  • Establishing and maintaining a safe work/play environment
  • Professional development and leadership
  • Computer literacy
  • Inclusive and culturally responsibility
  • Effectively managing the educational environment

Along with these areas of interest, you will also need to pass an exam.

This exam consists of 150 questions that are computer-based.

You won’t know how many questions you got right on the exam, because you will only be notified if you have passed or failed.

This credential should be updated every three years as well.

Average Training Program Duration: 1-2 Years

Depending on the type of training program you enter, it can take a few hours or up to several months.

Some training programs provide up-to-date information to Daycare Providers and parents.

These programs can be found online or even at community colleges nationwide.

A seminar can be a one-day class, or there can be multiple courses in a row, resulting in a certificate or degree.

Popular Programs

Job Outlook

There should be about a 2 percent growth in job opportunities for Daycare Providers over the next decade.

While this doesn’t seem like much to the naked eye, in the world of childcare, 2 percent is quite a bit.

Parents and caretakers who work throughout the week will likely keep their children in daycare, and the demand for preschools and daycares is rising steadily due to the population increase.

One of the things that could cause an issue with job openings in the future is the rising cost of childcare.

Those who must pay for childcare will feel the burden of the rising cost and possibly pull their children from the daycare or other childcare facility.

Employment Growth Projection: 8%


That's a higher than average projected growth of 84,200 jobs.

Daycare Provider: Interest Over Time

Should You Become a Daycare Provider?

Overall Satisfaction: Medium

Overall Satisfaction

Childcare Providers have a hard job, and this is reflected in the career satisfaction of Daycare Providers.

The average feeling is that Daycare Providers do not make enough money to sustain their lives, and may have to find another job or have a spouse work as well.

Those with education and credentials in childcare or child development enjoy their careers more because they make more money and they also understand children better in some cases.

While there may be some drawbacks to this career, most Daycare Providers believe that they are helping others and doing good for the children that they care for.

Average Salary: Low

Average Salary

If you have dreams of becoming a Daycare Provider, then you may want to think about earning an education so that it is reflected in your salary.

Daycare Providers that have further education and credentials will make the most in this career, over $30,000 in some areas.

While those with little education or experience can expect to make less than $20,000 as a Daycare Provider.

On average, a Daycare Provider in the United States makes about $25,000 a year.

Job Growth Outlook: Medium

Job Growth Outlook

Those who are interested in becoming Daycare Providers will be delighted to know that a 2 percent increase in the growth of this career is likely.

There will always be a need for childcare, and being a Daycare Provider means that you will be able to provide that accommodation for parents across the United States.

Many of the new openings in daycare facilities and preschools will be due to people leaving the workforce or seeking other employment opportunities.

If you have a degree in childcare or Early Childhood Education, it is possible that you will find more career openings than someone with little to no education or credentials.

Education Duration: 1-2 Years

Education Duration

The majority of Daycare Providers spend about two years in school earning an Associates’s degree.

Although there isn’t a required time frame or education program that a Daycare Provider must enroll in, many agree that an Associates’s degree is perfect for this career.

If you are looking for something a bit longer, a Bachelor’s degree takes about four years to finish for full-time students.

Depending on the type of degree you want and the amount of time you want to spend in school, it can take anywhere from 1 year to 4 years to become a Daycare Provider.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

Working with children can be stressful and tiring, so it’s important to be a high energy, happy person in order to be successful in this career.

Some of the other types of personal skills that are necessary for this job include:

  • Patience
  • Ability to adapt quickly
  • Communication skills
  • Decision making skills
  • Ability to manage many people at once
  • Creative thinking abilities
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Organization skills
  • Analytical ability

Perfect candidates for this career will have the ability to treat children with respect and enjoy teaching young minds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How much does a Daycare Provider make?

As a Daycare Provider, the most you can make is about $30,000 a year, especially if you run your daycare from your home.

The average annual salary for a Daycare Provider in the United States is about $25,000.

With education and experience, it’s possible to make more than this, of course.

However, when you are just starting in this career, the typical salary is closer to $20,000.

Q. What does a Daycare Provider do?

A Daycare Provider is tasked with making sure that the children they care for are being looked after and are safe.

Some of the things that a Daycare Provider will likely do throughout the day can include feeding children, taking children outside to play, teaching ABCs and numbers, reading books, and much more.

Having patience for children and understanding childhood development can really get you far in this career.

Q. Is there a demand for Daycare Providers?

More and more, it seems that 2 incomes are necessary for families to get by.

This is why Daycare Providers are so important, and will always be needed throughout the country.

Even though this career will only grow a little over the course of the next decade, this increase still means that there will be ample opportunity to start your own business or work with others to fulfill your dreams.

Q. How long does it take to become a Daycare Provider?

If you have the means, you can become a Daycare Provider right out of high school.

However, many people wait until they have a bit of experience with children, or earn an education.

The most popular type of education program for a Daycare Provider is an Associates’s degree.

This takes about two years to finish and can provide many types of techniques in the field of childcare.

Q. How much does it cost to become a Daycare Provider?

There are a lot of costs associated with becoming a Daycare Provider.

You’ll need to apply for licensing, which can cost anywhere from $150 to $400.

Plus, CPR and first aid training can cost about $35 to $100 dollars each.

Then, you will likely want to earn an Associates’s degree, with an average cost of $15,000.

This means it can cost anywhere from $200 to over $16,000 to become a Daycare Provider.

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