Being an early childhood educator is a job for those who love to work with children, and we expect, have the patience of a saint. Our Salaries Series article on early childhood educators got responses from those who are passionate about what they do, and those who found the low pay is the biggest drawback.
SharaLee wrote that she makes about $23,000 a year as a full-time early childhood educator, nowhere near the top pay of $37,000 the story cited. "I wish I made as much as the top quote. We all do. I am sure some centres do. Just don't count on it."
In Nova Scotia, most ECE workers make minimum wage with a little top-up from the government, wrote cbstepdancer.
But despite the low pay, SharaLee says the job is fulfilling. "I love my job. It is amazing and rewarding and, years later, when I see some of my past students succeed in life, I get a shiver where I know myself and fellow co-workers had a big part in that.
"The first five years are very important in the development of a child's brain," she said, as well as teaching kids "to be kind and wonderful people to others."
The lack of recognition for those who work with children is something SharaLee hopes will change over time.
"I hope over the years that the government will continue to work with us and help us be recognized as the important people we are. Without early childcare educators where would we be? … When we meet people who work in customer service jobs – I am not saying these are not equally important – but when they make more than us in a year, it makes one second guess 'what is best for my family?' "
"Over all, I stay because I love who I am in my classroom and I love the difference I make every day in a child's life," she wrote. "So those who are asking 'Is this the career for me?' – it comes down to why you want this career. If you think it is easy, think again and pick a different career. If it is because you love that you can make a difference in a child's life, then welcome aboard."
Mindy wrote that she's been an early childhood educator since 1997, and says that she is passionate about her work.
"Knowing that you play a direct part in the growth and development of the children you work with is incredibly rewarding and satisfying," she wrote. "Working as an early childhood educator requires a great deal of knowledge, positive morale, strong and positive communication skills, problem-solving ability, creativity, dedication, open-mindedness, empathy, organization, consistency and pride."
But she notes that salaries and work environments are inconsistent and, like other respondents, said it's not a job you should go into if money is your priority.
"If financial gain were my motivation for my work, I would not work in the child care field. It is terribly unfortunate that most early childhood educators are not adequately compensated, financially, for the hard work that we do. Because of this, we see many early childhood educators leave employment with child care centres to be a part of the school boards in the implementation of full-day kindergarten, for better wages and benefits.
"I hope some day in the near future this will be recognized and better planned for at the provincial and municipal levels in the form of base salary wage subsidies for non-profit child care centres. The early learning and care field will always need highly skilled, knowledgeable and responsive early childhood educators because our work is important and directly relates to the growth and development of children and families we work with."
H.LL wrote that demand for early childhood educators is fluctuating as daycare centres are cutting back owing to the implementation of full-day kindergarten.
In addition, many teachers who find themselves unable to get "a regular teaching job ... get into ECE as they wait for their chances," H.LL wrote.
Want to read more stories from our salaries series? Go to tgam.ca/salaries