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Early years teacher

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

Annual Salary

£25,714 to £36,961

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

32 to 37 variable

You could work: between 8am and 6pm; on a rota

Future employment

There will be 7% more Early years teacher jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

In this role you would:

  • plan and prepare activities, materials and lessons
  • set out activities before class and tidy up afterwards
  • teach children through learning and play
  • speak to parents and carers about their children’s development
  • make sure children learn in a safe and positive environment
  • monitor children’s progress and report any issues
  • supervise nursery workers, teaching assistants and volunteer helpers
  • contribute to curriculum planning
  • attend staff meetings and training sessions

Working environment

You may need to wear a uniform.

You could work in a nursery or at a school.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • working towards this role

You'll need to get early years teacher status (EYTS) and meet the teacher's standards by completing an early years initial teacher training course. There are several ways to do this:

  • do an undergraduate degree in a subject related to early childhood studies or child development, along with course placements
  • take an early years initial teacher training course after you finish your first degree
  • complete teacher training part-time, if you already have a degree and are working in an early years setting

You can also have your teaching skills assessed over 3 months to make sure you meet the teacher's standards. For this route, you must be a graduate with a lot of experience across the 0 to 5 age range, and 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
For more information

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

Volunteering and work 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.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

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.

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

You could work as a supply teacher or take further training to become a primary school teacher or play therapist. You might also move into teaching early years courses at university.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

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
  • active listening skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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