Nursery assistant, early years educator, pre-school assistant, playgroup assistant, childcare worker
Nursery workers help babies and children up to 5 years old to develop and learn in a safe and supportive setting.
Salary range: £14,000 to £24,000
How to become a nursery worker
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
- applying directly
You can take a college course before looking for work in a nursery. Courses include:
- Level 2 Certificate in Childcare and Education
- Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education and Care – Early Years Educator
- T level in Education
A paediatric first aid certificate will also be useful but is not essential.
You may need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level
You could get into this career through an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship for the children and young people’s workforce. You could also do an early years educator advanced apprenticeship.
You’ll usually need:
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
You can work as a nursery assistant and learn on the job. You’ll usually need GCSEs in maths and English to start. Experience of working with young children will also help.
Volunteering and experience
You can get experience by volunteering at a local nursery group or after school club. This may lead into paid work, where you could do training on the job.
You can apply directly for jobs if you’ve got experience of working with young children and a qualification in childcare.
You’ll find advice on careers and courses in childcare from the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years and the National Day Nurseries Association.
You can also get more information on this career from the early years career progression map.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- sensitivity and understanding
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to work well with others
- to be flexible and open to change
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- excellent verbal communication skills
- customer service skills
- thinking and reasoning skills
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
What you’ll do
In this role you may:
- plan and supervise activities like arts and crafts, music and cooking
- help children to learn numeracy and language skills through games
- take part in singing, role play and story telling
- take children on outings
- feed and change babies
- observe children and make notes to write reports
- make sure children are safe and well
- speak with parents, carers and other nursery staff
You could work in a nursery.
You may need to wear a uniform.
Career path and progression
As an experienced nursery worker you could specialise in working with children who have difficulties with learning, physical disabilities, or need support with their mental health.
You could take a Level 3 Early Years Educator qualification to progress to room leader, senior nursery worker or centre manager.
You could also study towards a higher education qualification in early years or child development. You could then move into management or early years teaching.