Your work will involve helping more experienced staff to look after and supervise young children.

You will also prepare materials and learning resources and observe groups as part of your ongoing studies for a Level 3 qualification.

You could be working in a private nursery, a local authority childcare centre or a nursery attached to a school, college, university, hospital or other establishment.

Nappy changing, feeding, cleaning up play areas and supervising mealtimes are all part of the job.

Case study

Every day is different. It is all about the journey we make with the children, seeing them develop as they mature and watching them grow...

Carrie Packham, deputy manager at a pre-school

Example jobs

Nursery nurse
Helping with changing nappies, filling in daily diaries for the children, interacting with children through play, reading and singing activities, building relationships with the children’s parents and carers.

Childcare assistant or nursery assistant
With Level 1 or 2 qualifications and little experience, work involves helping out and supporting more senior staff. Some local authorities are now employing Level 1 and 2 classroom assistants instead of childcare or nursery assistants.

Au pair
Looking after children, either living in with the family or attending as and when required, often doing household chores while the children are at school.

Looking after children while the parents are out. If you have Level 1 qualifications and/or are working towards higher qualifications, an agency will find work for you.

Things you need to know

Typical working conditions

  • You will be working in a hectic, busy and tiring environment, so you must enjoy working with and looking after very young, sometimes very noisy children.
  • As an au pair, you could be working in the children’s home for much of the day. You will need to be aware of any health and safety risks.
  • If you are working in a busy nursery school or centre, much of the responsibility will be with your employers.

Qualifications needed

You will need CACHE or NVQ Level 1 or 2, GCSEs or BTEC diplomas in children’s care, learning and development (CCLD).

To work with young children, you will be required to have a DBS check. Taking short courses in first aid and basic food hygiene will be invaluable.

Career path

You could progress in your career by doing further qualifications and training in special needs care, such as autism, Down’s syndrome or cerebral palsy, where you would be working one to one with individual children.

You could undertake further childcare training to level 3 and on-the-job training to get experience for jobs which involve supervising other staff.

Useful links

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Help with childcare jobs

National Careers Service

Apprenticeships in Children and Young People's Workforce