Early childhood workforce

The Australian Government has a range of initiatives to support the early childhood education and care workforce. The initiatives aim to attract, develop and retain high-quality early childhood teachers and educators.

On this page:

About the early childhood workforce

In 2021 over 216,000 staff were employed in the early childhood education and care sector. The average age of staff is 32 and 92% are female.

Most, 85%, have an early childhood education and care qualification. 12% have a bachelor’s degree.

Depending on the service type, people who work in early childhood education and care services include:

  • early childhood teachers
  • early childhood educators
  • educational leaders
  • support staff like cooks and cleaners
  • directors and managers.

Qualifications

The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care (NQF) defines qualifications and ratios for the early childhood sector. It sets out:

  • minimum qualifications
  • teacher-to-child ratios.

The qualifications to become an early childhood educator are:

  • Certificate III Early Childhood Education and Care
  • Diploma Early Childhood Education and Care

You can complete these qualifications through a:

  • Registered Training Provider, or
  • traineeship or apprenticeship.

Generally, they take up to 4 years to complete.

The qualifications to become an early childhood teacher are:

  • Bachelor’s degree Early Childhood Education (Birth to Five Years)
  • Bachelor’s degree Early Childhood Education (Birth to Eight Years)

Qualified teachers may need to register in their state or territory.

You don’t have to have done the Certificate III or Diploma before starting a bachelor’s degree. Depending on your prior learning, the degree may take up to 4 years to complete.

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority’s website has more detail and guidance on qualifications and ratios.

Programs and initiatives

Professional development

There are measures to support the early childhood education and care workforce.

The professional development subsidy, paid practicum subsidy and practicum exchange are designed to strengthen skills and professional experience and encourage long-term staff engagement.

Learn about the new early childhood workforce measures

Child care discount for early childhood workforce

Providers can choose to offer a discounted fee to educators or cooks they employ whose children are enrolled at one of their services. The discount will not affect the employee’s Child Care Subsidy (CCS) entitlement. This measure will support providers to attract and retain their early childhood workforce.

Learn more about discounts for the early childhood workforce

National Workforce Strategy

A 10-year National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy aims to foster a sustainable and high-quality workforce of early childhood teachers and educators.

Learn more about the National Workforce Strategy

Support for educators and teachers

Find initiatives aimed at early childhood educators and teachers, including:

  • professional development opportunities
  • gap fee discounts 
  • financial help for very remote teachers
  • mental health resources.

See support for early childhood educators and teachers

Finding staff

In this section you will find information about programs and opportunities to:

  • help you identify and prepare job seekers
  • help you fill entry-level roles
  • exhibit at a jobs fair
  • get wage support for apprentices and trainees.

Learn more about finding staff

Early Childhood Education and Care National Workforce Census

The National Workforce Census provides a comprehensive evidence base for early childhood education and care. This is used for developing and measuring policies and programs for the sector. The census collects data about:

  • service use
  • children with additional needs
  • access to preschool programs
  • staff details including demographics, types of work, qualifications, experience and current study.

Learn more about the National Workforce Census

Case studies

Our case studies showcase successful early childhood education and care programs, including workforce initiatives.

Read the case studies