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Early Childhood Education Salaries: A Comparison Across Professions

Early Childhood Education Salaries: A Comparison Across Professions

September 29, 2015 | Ron Spreeuwenberg
Pay in early childhood education for child care professionals is seriously lagging despite tremendous responsibilities and clear return on investment

According to the President’s Council of Economic Advisors’ 2015 report, The Economics of Early Childhood Investments, existing research suggests expanding early learning initiatives would provide benefits to society of roughly $8.60 for every $1.00 spent. Despite this clear return on investment, a report by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkley reports that early childhood teachers and assistants’ salaries have increased by only about 1 percent since 1997.

So I did a bit more digging to find out how salaries for early childhood educators and those in the child care field in the U.S. compared to other service-related salaries. The results, in order of descending salary, should surprise you.

$56,320 - Elementary school teacher

$39,450 - Auto mechanic

$35,280 - Garbage collector

$33,490 - Delivery truck driver

$32,480 - Exterminator

$27,530 - Hairdresser

$26,300 - Landscaper / groundskeeper

$25,200 - Taxi driver

$25,140 - Janitor

$23,440 - Restaurant cook

$22,130 - Maid / housekeeper

$21,790 - Nail technician

$21,770 - Bartender

$21,710 - Child care professional

I’m not sure about you, but I find it shocking that a groundskeeper and garbage collector would make more money than the professionals that ensure the well-being and development of our most precious and important asset. Furthermore, something doesn't seem right when you consider the fact that 90% of a child’s brain development happens by age 5, yet the salaries reported above indicate that an Elementary School Teacher's salary is 2.5 times as much as that of a Child Care Professional that educates children during this very important time of development.

It doesn’t take a big leap in logic to see that, without more appropriate compensation, those with the passion and skills needed for education in the critical early years between the ages of 0 to 5 will be lost to other, better paying opportunities. Outcomes for America’s children will suffer, as will those for the country as a whole.

NOTE: Child care professional wage data sourced from ChildCare Aware of America report, Child Care in America: 2015 State Fact Sheets. All other wage data sourced from U.S. News & World Report review of Best Social Services Jobs.

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