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Average Salaries in Early Childhood Education – 2019

Staffing is a critical issue in childcare. Not surprisingly, we often wonder what is the average salary for other teachers or directors. Is your center paying more or less than average? How fair is your compensation rate? What is the right amount to pay your staff?

We published the fourth edition of our Child Care Benchmark survey this year to answer these questions (and many more). The report contains data from hundreds of childcare centers across the United States and Canada.

Our goal is to help early childhood professionals assess their operational and financial performance compared to other centers. You can download the full report below!

Average Teacher Salary

It is common knowledge that early childhood education is an underpaid profession and that the importance of early childhood educators is often overlooked. In 2019, the majority of the respondents reported a teacher salary of $20,000 to $30,000, with only 27% of respondents receiving more than $30,000 (in for-profit centers).

As in previous years, salaries in non-profit organizations are higher than in for-profit organizations for both teachers and directors. For example, 30% of teachers in non-profit centers receive from $30,000 to $40,000, while this group represents only 22% of for-profit programs. In both scenarios, more than half of educators receive less than $30,000 per year.

Teacher Salaries in For-Profit Childcare Centers

From 2018 to 2019, we noticed a reduction in educators that receive less than $20,000 (from 36% to 27%) and an increase in educators receiving a salary within the range of $20,000 to $30,000 (from 38% to 46%).

Salary (Local Currency)Percentage (2019)Percentage (2018)
$20,000 or less27%36%
$20,000 – $30,00046%38%
$30,000 – $40,00022%21%
$40,000 – $50,0004%6%
$50,000 – $65,0001%0%

Teacher Salaries in Non-Profit Childcare Centers

As with for-profit centers, there was a reduction in professionals receiving less than $20,000 per year, but the change was not as significant.

Salary (Local Currency)Percentage (2019)Percentage (2018)
$20,000 or less16%20%
$20,000 – $30,00037%34%
$30,000 – $40,00030%31%
$40,000 – $50,00011%10%
$50,000 – $65,0006%5%

Director Salaries

In order to provide additional insights this year, we started collecting data about director salaries as well. This will provide centers with extra information when analyzing the salaries of your staff.

Director Salaries in For-Profit Childcare Centers

As expected, the average salary received by an early childhood director is higher than for an educator. 30% of directors reported receiving between $30,000 to $40,000 yearly, and 7% have a salary of $65,000 or more.

Salary (Local Currency)Percentage (2019)
$20,000 or less12%
$20,000 – $30,00016%
$30,000 – $40,00030%
$40,000 – $50,00023%
$50,000 – $65,00011%
$65,000 – $80,0003%
$80,000 or more4%

Director Salaries in Non-Profit Childcare Centers

In non-profit centers, the largest group is comprised by directors receiving from $40,000 to $50,000, representing 29% of the total. Also, 22% of directors in this sector receive more than $65,000 per year.

Salary (Local Currency)Percentage (2019)
$20,000 or less4%
$20,000 – $30,00011%
$30,000 – $40,00014%
$40,000 – $50,00029%
$50,000 – $65,00018%
$65,000 – $80,00015%
$80,000 or more9%

Staff Motivation Techniques

That said, money is not everything and there are many other techniques that can be used to motivate your staff. 71% of centers reported using performance reviews to motivate their employees, followed closely by staff social events (69%) and informal check-ins (48%).

Less than half of centers reported using other monetary incentives to motivate staff, such as bonuses (48%) and accolades (32%).

21% of programs reported using other techniques not listed above, such as raises, snacks, gifts, and professional development.

Labor Expenses

Even if teachers are underpaid, labor is still the biggest portion of cost when it comes to running a child care business. This also accounts for payroll, taxes, and benefits. On average, respondents shared an average labor expense of $602,419, which represents 66% of the average revenue in the past year.

How does your center compare with the stats above? Check our 2019 Benchmark Report for even more insights!

To learn more about the origin of early childhood education and the many influences that make the field what it is today, check out our post about the history of early childhood education

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Mathias Neves

Mathias is a marketing specialist with more than 8 years of experience in the field. Due to his background in engineering, he is our go-to person for crunching numbers and finding meaningful information in stats. When not at work, this soon-to-be dad can be found writing a series of books focused on mental health for children and spending time with his family.