Early years teacher

Nursery teacher

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Early years teachers are specialists in early childhood development and work with children up to the age of 5.

Salary range: £18,000 to £30,000

How to become an early years teacher

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • working towards this role


You’ll need to get early years teacher status (EYTS) by completing an early years initial teacher training course. There are several ways to do this:

  • undergraduate entry if you’re taking an early childhood-related degree, and maybe working in an early years setting
  • graduate entry if you have a degree but limited experience with children and are not currently working with them
  • graduate employment if you have a degree and are working in an early years setting
  • assessment only if you’re a graduate with a lot of experience across the 0 to 5 age range, and also have knowledge of key stage 1 and 2 in schools

Early years teacher status qualifies you to teach children up to age 5. If you want to teach older children, or teach in a primary school, you’ll usually need to get qualified teacher status (QTS).

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More information


You could work your way into this role by starting as nursery worker and doing a part-time degree in childhood studies or child development.

Volunteering and experience

You’ll usually need experience of working with children and young people through paid work or volunteering at a school, through youth work or on a holiday scheme.

More information

Career tips

You can search for jobs in schools through the Teaching Vacancies service.

Further information

You can find out more about teaching in early years from Get Into Teaching.

You can also get details through CACHE and the early years career progression map.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to work well with others
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could be:

  • planning and preparing activities and materials
  • setting out activities before classes and tidying up afterwards
  • speaking to parents and carers about their children’s development
  • monitoring children’s progress, and identifying and dealing with any issues
  • supervising nursery workers, teaching assistants and volunteer helpers
  • attending parents’ evenings and training sessions

Working environment

You could work in a nursery or at a school.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career path and progression

Once qualified, you could move into management of a nursery or group of nurseries.

You could also work as a supply teacher or take further training to become a primary school teacher or play therapist.

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