Careers Guides

Becoming an Early Years Practitioner

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The Role of an Early Years Practitioner

An early years practitioner works closely with babies, toddlers or preschoolers, looking after their day-to-day needs like changing and feeding, and also organising age-appropriate activities to stimulate their physical, educational and emotional development.

The roles and responsibilities of early years practitioners are varied and differ between workplaces but here’s a general overview of the duties you can expect:

Early Years Practitioner Skills & Requirements

You can start a career as an Early Years Practitioner by obtaining a relevant qualification such as a Level 2 in Childcare. Each course, qualification and provider will have their own entry requirements for these courses. If you’d like to know what the requirements are for our Early Years Practitioner course then click here.

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Early Years Practitioner Salary

The typical early years practitioner salary is around £19,000 per year, with starting salaries potentially being significantly lower. As a nursery nurse you will generally be working year-round unless your nursery operates on school time. Your salary might vary depending on how much of the year you’re actually working for in that case, compared to more typical jobs where you can expect to work regularly throughout the year.

Your income as an early years practitioner is going to depend on a few things. Firstly, think about where you’re going to be working. Your location could mean you’re earning more or less than the national average, so it’s good to check out how pay might vary between your local area and others. For example, Londoners can expect to earn on average 25% more than the next closest region because of things like the cost of living.

Your experience level will also be a major factor in what you’ll earn. As a new starter with little experience you might not be earning much, especially if you’re going to be working part-time or similar. After you’ve gained some experience in the role then you’ll probably find you’re earning significantly more. Experienced early years practitioners can expect to earn around £24,000 or more in the role. Your experience in a past role, like as a nursery assistant, could help you to earn more from the get go.

Early Years Practitioner Working Hours

Your hours would normally be 35 to 40 hours per week, Monday to Friday.

Many nurseries are open during school holidays.

Some staff work all year round while some take term holidays.

The summer term stretches from the end of the Easter break to mid-July.

It includes a half term week long holiday in late May.

This is usually the busiest time, with later students sitting their GCSE’s.

The academic school year starts in early September, with the term stretching till Christmas.

The winter term is a half term holiday, usually a week long at the end of October.

Most schools have a 2 week end of term holiday stretching over New Year and Christmas.

This is the spring term and stretches from early January to Easter.

Easter usually falls on a different weekend each year, so the end of term two-week break can be either early April or late March.

This term also included a week-long half term break, usually in mid-February.

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Early Years Practitioner Career Progression

As an experienced Early Years Practitioner 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 or an early years lead practitioner higher apprenticeship.

You could study towards a higher education qualification in early years or child development. You could then move into management or early years teaching.

Ready to start your journey?

We offer both Level 2 and Level 3 Courses & Qualifications. Some of these may be eligible for government funded learning meaning you could study for free subject to eligibility.

Here's how to get started: