Do I Need a Degree to Start a Daycare?

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With many parents having to work in order to meet expenses, daycare is a lucrative business that is always in demand. As of 2011, most daycare centers go well beyond simple babysitting services -- many employ licensed teachers and operate more like preschools. For this reason, you ideally should have a degree if you want to start a daycare business.

General Stipulation

States regulate daycare centers individually, so each has different requirements for daycare workers. These regulations are listed on the website (see Resources). However, in most states, daycare directors typically receive at least a bachelor's degree in child development or education. States also permit degrees in other child-related fields such as social work, psychology, family studies or education administration. States that don't require a college degree still typically require daycare workers to have a GED or high school diploma, or a minimum amount of college coursework or training related to child care as well as experience in the field. You may start a daycare without a college degree in some regions, but this usually means you have to hire a director. This isn't cost-effective in many cases. Regardless of what degree you have, you will need to get a license for the operation of the daycare.

Additional Requirements

Regardless of where you open your daycare, you will need basic certifications in addition to training or a degree. For example, you will need training in first aid and CPR. Seek the child development associate (CDA) credential from the Council for Professional Recognition and/or the national administration (NA) credential from the National Child Care Association.

Daycare Size and Funding

Regulations regarding daycare varies based on the size of the facilities. Smaller daycare facilities face less stringent regulations, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so you may not need a degree if you intend to care for a very small number of children, or if you operate out of your home instead of a separate center. Funding also is an influence on regulations -- public daycare facilities that are state or federally funded have stricter requirements than those that operate privately. It is not unusual for daycare directors to have a master degree in daycare facilities that receive government monies.


Even if your state does not require you to have a college degree, parents look for daycare facilities where workers are highly trained, simply because they associate additional training with increased safety and compliance with state law. Getting a college degree will help you appear more professional to clients and therefore may have an impact on the success of the center you start.