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Early childhood educators aren't well paid, but most are very happy with their careers

This story is part of the Globe Careers’ series looking at specific jobs, with their qualifications, descriptions, responsibilities and current salaries. For more, see our Salaries series.

Job:

Early childhood educator

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Salary:

At between $25,000 and $37,000 a year, these professionals aren’t in it for the money.

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Education:

Minimum two-year college diploma in early childhood education, or a university degree in a similar field. Tuition for the college program is about $3,500 per year.

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By the numbers:

According to a Canadian survey of early childhood educators, 78.3 per cent of program staff said they were satisfied overall with their jobs. Of those, 84 per cent said it gave them a sense of accomplishment, while 81 per cent said their work was stimulating, according to the report called You Bet We Still Care!

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The job:

It’s about the safety and security of children. “But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the jobs demands and what’s expected,” said Don Giesbrecht, chief executive officer at Canadian Child Care Federation. Educators also have to support families, who have busy lives and rely on them to help raise their kids.

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Challenges:

To make the environment as home-like as possible, no matter the space. Educators also have to deal with screaming children, angry parents and those occasional accidents. Keeping a distance from family matters is also a challenge, and not judging how kids are raised by their parents. “It’s not our job to instill values or experiences that the family doesn’t want to have happen with their child,” said Giesbrecht.

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Why they do it:

These are people who love kids and want to spend their lives working around them, despite the low pay and stress of dealing with small children. “There are great rewards with hugs, smiling faces and families that are so happy to have you as part of their life,” said Mr. Giesbrecht. “There are some very rewarding experiences, especially as you see the children grow and develop over the years.”

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Misconceptions:

They aren’t babysitters. “Even thought this sector has been around for 25 to 30 years, people still see it as babysitting,” said Mr. Giesbrecht. “What often gets lost is the education piece.”

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Give us the real scoop:

Are you an early childhood educator in Canada?

Write a note in the comments area and tell us what you would tell others who are interested in the profession, or e-mail your comment to careerquestion@globeandmail.com

Want to read more stories from our salaries series? Click here:

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Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

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