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How (and why) to start a career in childcare
14 June, 2021
A career in childcare can be equal parts rewarding and challenging. Ask any Edge Early Learning employee and they’ll tell you they wouldn’t change it for the world.
No one knows this better than Peita Heintzberger. In her role as People and Culture Manager, it is Peita’s job to ensure that each centre – there are now 21 of them – is filled with a passionate team, be they early childhood educators, centre directors or those in the support office.
“Edge is an emerging business, and it’s exciting to be part of a company that is made up of people who are not only passionate about early learning, but also about the company in general,” says Peita. “When I started two years ago, we had 150 team members. Now, we have about 600.”
So why have so many people chosen a career in childcare, with Edge specifically? Peita explains.
Who should work in childcare?
Think of an early childhood educator and certain characteristics spring to mind: patience by the bucketload; a positive, warm demeanour; open-mindedness and creative thinking, just to name a few. But Peita insists there is no one ‘type’ of childcare worker.
“The wonderful thing about working in early learning is that it accommodates so many different kinds of people, and encourages us all to play to our strengths,” says Peita. “I recently interviewed someone who worried they weren’t creative enough, but we worked out that they were very logical and could offer a lot in that sense.
“This industry can bring out different passions in people, too. We love bringing people on who love yoga or cooking, for example, and seeing how we can incorporate those interests into our centres. You don’t need to leave your prior skills, experience or passions at the door.”
As a childcare worker, one thing you do need is a love for not only working with children but helping them grow and learn – and learning from them in return. But people in the industry are now being seen as legitimate professionals, not as ‘babysitters,’ which is in part due to research that suggests the early childhood years are some of the most important, developmentally.
“Our educators will often work with a child from when they are just a few months old through to when the start school,” says Peita. “Those first five years are so important – I know this both from my role with Edge and from being a mum. My son still talks about his childcare teachers.”
Why work in the childcare industry?
As a team of lifelong learners, internal growth and development is a big part of the Edge approach. The ‘Leading Edge’ program offers personal professional development to help centre directors learn and grow, and the team is constantly looking to – but never following – the industry to ensure it is leading the way.
“I have worked in human resources for companies in law and IT and it goes without saying that this industry is very different,” says Peita. “You can see the passion and the warmth here, and I’ve learned so much from others. It’s a big responsibility but working with likeminded people makes it easy.”
The benefits of a job in childcare can look very different depending on what role you take up. Educators work with and learn from children through Edge’s inquiry based approach to educating, following the child’s interests to increase their curiosity and being part of massive milestones each and every day. Centre directors and coordinators, on the other hand, work in more of a leadership capacity, benefitting from the expertise and support of practice managers.
“Our centres have access to experienced managers who can take everyone to the next level,” says Peita. “We are always looking within for different ways to learn and grow, and our strong internal networks help us achieve that.”
Through COVID, Edge Early Learning was a rare example of a company that not only retained its employee numbers and offered job security but grew significantly.
“We are always looking to bring more people into our sector, and I think that it’s important for people to be aware of the many roles that are available,” says Peita. “For example, there may be teachers who don’t want to run a classroom but would still like to use their experience and skills. It is about always looking at who is the best person for the job.”
Among the many perks of working at Edge, team members are:
- Paid above award rates
- Given childcare discounts
- Provided with professional uniforms
- Offered internal and external training to aid in development and promotion
- Part of a bonus system (centre directors only)
- Given additional leave (early childhood teachers only)
How do you pursue a career in childcare?
Generally, people working in the childcare industry will have a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education or a diploma in Childhood Services under their belt – or they will be studying their bachelor’s degree in Early Education.
“You don’t need any prior experience for those areas of study, and our open-door practice means it is easy to complete your required placement hours with us,” says Peita. “We also offer traineeships where we pay people to come on board with us and either start or continue their qualifications.”
A career change can be overwhelming, but Edge is committed to supporting its team members at every turn.
“We understand how challenging that decision can be and have helped plenty of our team members through their journey,” says Peita. “We would love for anyone who might be interested to give us a call! With 21 centres, we cover a large region so there is bound to be a location close to you – and if there isn’t, there likely will be one soon.”
Visit our careers page to view our available positions!