The Average Salary of a Child-Care Director

by Wendy Roltgen; Updated September 26, 2017
three little girls and female teacher in kindergarten

A child-care director works to provide children with a safe and comfortable environment while their parents are at work for the day. A quality child-care environment can help children improve their reading, social and language skills. Child-care directors oversee the staff at a child-care facility and are responsible for the educational programming and daily operations of the facility. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, average hourly earnings of child-care directors fall below the private industry average of $18.08 per hour, as of October 2010.

National Salary Average

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the national average salary earned by a child-care director or program administrator in May 2008 was $39,940. The national salary range for child-care directors ranges from $25,910 to $77,150. Salaries vary based on the geographic location of the child-care center and the number of children enrolled in the center.

Highest-Paying States

Global Studies - United States

According to the United States Department of Labor, the states that pay the highest salary for child-care directors and preschool education administrators are California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island; child-care directors in the District of Columbia also earn a higher salary on average. The top metropolitan areas for individuals interested in pursuing a career as a child-care director include the California cities of San Francisco, San Mateo and Redwood City. In Florida, child-care directors can expect to earn more in the metro areas surrounding Tampa and Miami. Child-care directors in Flint, Mich., and Tacoma, Wash., can also expect a higher-than-average salary.

Salary by Education and Experience

Graduation diplomas

Many positions in child care can be obtained with a high school diploma and required state license. Like many occupations, the level of education a candidate has improves earning potential. Individuals holding a bachelor’s degree can anticipate earning between $30,000 and $43,000 per year, as of October 2010. Individuals holding a master’s degree in education can expect to earn between $34,000 and $61,000 a year. According to the PayScale website, experience pays off as well. Individuals who have worked in the child-care industry for several years often earn more than individuals with little to no experience.

Salary by Industry

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Child-care directors working in hospital, college or university settings have the highest earning potential, with salaries ranging from $30,000 to more than $70,000 per year. Child-care directors working for franchise child-care centers, public schools, nonprofit organizations or company on-site child-care facilities can expect to earn a salary ranging from $25,000 to $42,000 per year.

Future Outlook

Montessori/Pre-School Class Listening to Teacher

Job opportunities for child-care directors and preschool administrators are expected to grow by 12 percent through 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Turnover is relatively high, which provides ongoing opportunities to break into this industry. The need for formal child-care centers is expected to continue to grow as more parents seek child care outside of the home. Many states are also investing in public preschool programs, creating ongoing demand for preschool and child-care directors.

A number of initiatives are in place to combat the low wages associated with the child-care field. The Center for Child Care Workforce has a “Worthy Wages” campaign underway that's working to improve wages in the early childhood education and child-care workforce. The Child Care WAGE$ and TEACH Early Childhood projects run by the Child Care Services Association also have initiatives that strive to provide fair compensation to individuals working in the fields of child care and early childhood education.

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