How to Get a Job Working with Children

Posted by | July 25, 2017 |

So you know that you want to devote your life to working with children. You love watching them grow and helping them learn the ways of the world during their most crucial developmental stages. Plus, children and babies are super cute — how can you resist those chubby little cheeks? If you can’t help but smile at the thought of spending your days taking care of kids, a job in childcare is probably the perfect fit for you. But with such a huge variety of jobs out there, how do you know which route you should take? Childcare jobs come in many forms; here are 5 great options for you to explore.

1. Teaching Assistant (TA)

Teaching assistants assist teachers with day-to-day learning and activities in primary schools or secondary schools. They take on tasks that enable the teacher to focus on teaching, like preparing the classroom, tidying up, gathering work and listening to students read. Aside from supporting the teacher, teaching assistants play a huge role in supporting individual pupils. Some TAs will be assigned a specific student(s) who may require a little more help than others. If this is the case, they dedicate a large part of their time to assisting the student’s learning and ensuring that they understand what they need to do. Some teaching assistants may have a certain specialism, such as speaking a second language or working with children who have a disability or learning difficulties.

What do you need to become a teaching assistant?

Any experience in working with children is great to have for this type of job. Many mothers are actually the perfect candidate for this role; they have the same working hours as their children and they have practical experience in looking after kids. You don’t need any formal qualifications to become a TA — but you must be able to demonstrate that you have a great attitude, you’re good at communicating and you’re organised. You must also have satisfactory numeracy, reading and writing skills. If you have experience volunteering at a school, that’ll also look great in your application. If you don’t have much experience or want to increase your chances of being hired as a TA, there are teaching assistant qualifications that you can take to get you up to date with the current curriculum.

What kind of wage can you expect?

Full-time teaching assistants usually begin on an entry-level salary of £12,000, but this can rise as you gain more experience (up to £17,000). If you decide to take your career one step further and become a full-time higher learning teaching assistant, you could earn up to £21,000 annually.

2. Childminder

Childminders take care of babies and children during the day when their parents are at work or have other errands to run. This role differs to working in a nursery or as a nanny because you look after  the children in your own home. Childminders could look after a child for a whole day or collect them from school and look after them for two hours or more, until their parents are able to pick them up. Differing from school-based jobs, you don’t have to teach the children you look after. Instead, you simply make sure that they’re in a safe and secure environment and ensure that they’re happy and have plenty of activities to keep them entertained. Other duties include feeding them nutritional meals, cleaning, changing nappies, playing, reading and planning activities.

What do you need to become a childminder?

To become a childminder, you don’t need a university degree but you should have some form of childcare qualification to prove that you are capable of this job role. A ‘Level 3 Preparing to Work in Home-Based Childcare’ or similar is very much advised. You must also complete a course in first aid and should take courses that teach you about food hygiene and safeguarding children. Someone looking to become a childminder must undergo a DBS check, so you mustn’t have any criminal convictions. As you will be self-employed, you must also register with OFSTED. Other legal requirements include a medical check, an interview with OFSTED, and a home inspection.

What kind of wage can you expect?

Childminders set their own rates. These should reflect their experience and where they live. Your salary is likely to change depending on how many children you look after in one week; most childminders will charge anywhere between £4 and £6 per child, per hour. To calculate your hourly rate, you should do some research to see what other childminders in the area charge.

3. Play Therapist

Play therapists help children with emotional pain using creative play. This method of therapy caters to a child’s instinctive form of expression, enabling them to greater understand how the child feels and get them communicating about their emotions and thoughts. Emotional issues can range anywhere from abuse, bereavement  and divorce, to learning disabilities and psychological problems. A play therapist helps a child cope with whatever they’re going through, providing a safe environment for them to get creative, express themselves, and grow. Creative play can include drawing, playing instruments, working with clay and other mediums, and storytelling. They usually work one-to-one with children or with a small group. Alongside running creative therapy sessions for the children, you will also have to assess their mental state and record their progress.

What do you need to become a play therapist?

You do need a degree to become a play therapist. This degree needs to be in teaching, children’s healthcare, social services, or psychotherapy. During your degree, you should gain experience in a work placement that gives you a hands-on approach to working with children — particularly those with emotional distress. Aside from a relevant qualification, a play therapist must be empathetic, have outstanding communication skills, and be very resilient. You should understand child development, the way children communicate, and be competent in dealing with difficult behaviours.

What kind of wage can you expect?

A standard starter salary for a play therapist is £25,000. As you gain more experience and seniority, this annual wage can rise as high at £41,000.

4. Social Worker

Social workers work with vulnerable children and their families, offering support and help when they need it most. They experience children going through particularly arduous times, whether they have a disability, are suffering from abuse, have mental health issues, are asylum seekers, or are homeless. Social workers are there to do everything in their power to improve vulnerable children’s lives. They build relationships with those children in order to assess their situation, write reports with their findings, recommend ways to improve or resolve the situation, counsel the child with or without their family present, and form a plan in order to offer them continued support. It’s also customary to discuss cases with their supervising team and attend court when necessary.

What do you need to become a social worker?

Social workers must have a degree in social work. It’s also recommended to undergo a postgraduate degree specialising in a particular field; this will heighten your knowledge and experience in that area. After attaining a degree, you must register with the HCPC. The DBS will also conduct a background check on you to ensure you haven’t been involved in criminal activity. Aside from a qualification, social workers must be able to remain calm and collected in emotional and stressful situations. They should be empathetic and able to communicate and listen well. Additionally, they must be able to make tough decisions and have exceptional problem solving skills.

What kind of wage can you expect?

For a newly qualified social worker, you can expect to take home around £24,000 each year. As your experience grows in your field, your salary could rise to as much as £40,000.

5. Sports Coach

Sports coaches bring physical activity and fitness to children in schools, clubs and community groups. Their mission is to teach young people about the importance of sports, whilst supporting them in improving their physical health and knowledge. This job role is very hands-on; sports coaches teach children about their specialised sport(s) and really get them to engage in the activity. The role of a sports coach involves planning fun and lively sporting activities, giving feedback to children about their performance, and teaching them ways to improve their skills.

What do you need to become a sports coach?

To become a sports coach, you do need have an NGB recognised coaching qualification. This can be obtained directly through the National Governing Body or through a college. As well as this qualification, many employers are now also looking for candidates to have a foundation degree in sports coaching, a HND in sports science, or a degree in PE, sports studies, or coaching. You should also be great at motivating and inspiring children, patient, organised, and have great fitness.

What kind of wage can you expect?

A sports coach salary completely depends on where you work, but it’s likely that you’ll start anywhere between £14,000 and £22,000 annually. As your experience grows, you could earn up to £30,000. If you progress to be a senior coach for the NGB, you could even earn up to £35,000.