Careers in Early Care & Education


I've decided I'd like to work with young children. What kinds of early childhood education settings are there?

Licensed early childhood education settings include both home based and center based programs.

  • Licensed Family Child Care Homes are settings based in private homes and offer a family-like environment. They represent an enormous variety of both style and program content.
  • Licensed center based settings include programs for infants & toddlers, preschool programs and after school or summer programs for school-age children. They also vary in structure, environment and the teacher's role in the classroom. They may be located in schools, churches, community centers, etc.

There are also settings that are not required to be licensed. These license-exempt programs include in-home (nanny) care, youth organizations, parks & recreation programs, and some employer sponsored programs. There are no official education or experience requirements for these programs, though individual employers may specify their own requirements.

What are the requirements to operate a Licensed Family Child Care Home?

To operate a Licensed Family Child Care Home you must be at least 18 years old. You must be fingerprinted, and cleared by a Child Abuse Index and Criminal Records check, as does everyone living in your home over the age of 18 years. A TB skin test is also required for licensing. Licensed Family Child Care providers must have 15 hours of Health Training that includes CPR and First Aid certifications as well as training in Injury, Infectious Disease and Disaster Prevention.
Licensed family child care programs are classified as either small or large. Small homes are licensed for 6-8 children. A home inspection that includes a child proofing and health & safety checklist is part of the licensing process. Community Care Licensing (650) 266-8843 conducts this inspection. Large homes are licensed for 12-14 children. In addition to all the above requirements, a large home must have a fire inspection, the provider must have at least 1 year experience operating a small home, and must have at least one assistant. To work as an assistant in a Licensed Family Child Care Home, you must be at least 16 years old.

What education and experience are required to work in a center based Child Development Program?

It varies. Child development programs operate under one or two different sets of requirements, Title 5 and/or Title 22 depending on whether or not they receive funding from the state to serve low income children. The minimum acceptable requirements are described below, however be aware that some specific employers may require more education or experience. Special note: Though as you will read below, Title 22 programs don't require teachers or directors to have a Child Development Permit, it is a great benefit to you in your career as a child development professional to fulfill the requirements for and obtain a permit.

Title 22
Most programs do not receive state funding and operate under the Department of Social Services Title 22 requirements. Below is a list of typical positions and minimum requirements for each.

Assistant Teacher
No college training or experience is required, but assistants must work under the supervision of a teacher at all times

12 units of ECE coursework in the following core areas:

  • Introduction to the Field of Child Development - Principles and Practices (3 units)
  • Child Growth and Development (3 units)
  • Child, Family and Community (3 units)
  • Curriculum for Young Children (3 units)

  • Teachers can be hired after completing 6 of the above units, provided that they complete at least 2 units per semester until the requirements are met.

    A teacher must have 50 days of experience working under the supervision of a fully qualified teacher or director, or obtain that experience during the first 6 months of employment.

    Courses and Experience (Directors must have one of the four options below)
  • High school graduate, 12 semester units of ECE core coursework and 3 units of ECE administration coursework plus 4 years experience as a teacher
  • An AA or AS degree in ECE or Child Development plus 2 years experience as a teacher
  • A bachelor's degree in ECE or Child Development plus 1 year experience as a teacher
  • A Child Development Permit: Director or Supervisor level

  • Title 5

    Programs with state funding operate under the Department of Education Title 22 and Title 5 requirements. In order to teach in a Title 5 program, staff is required to hold a Permit in one of the levels of the Child Development Permit Matrix, depending on job responsibility. The matrix describes the requirements for education and experience at each of the six basic levels. The levels are:
    Child Development Assistant
    Child Development Associate Teacher
    Child Development Teacher
    Child Development Master Teacher
    Child Development Site Supervisor
    Child Development Program Director

    The Child Development Permit Matrix is available in English, Chinese and Spanish at the San Francisco Professional Development Project in MUB 247


    How do I get one of the permits?

    The Commission on Teacher Credentialing issues the permits but despite the name, the permits are not teaching credentials for elementary & secondary education. They areChild Development Permits and "permit" you to work in specific settings. The following organizations can assist you with the application process.

    City College of SF Child Development Training Consortium and Professional Development Project (Local)
    (415) 452-5605
    (415) 239-3890

    Child Development Training Consortium (Statewide)
    (209) 572-6080

    More suggestions for further help are located at the end of this FAQ

    What is a Certificate?

    A certificate is awarded by an educational institution for completing a designated number of units in Early Childhood Education/Child Development. A certificate is not required for any particular job,  but are aligned with the Child Development Permit and state licensing requirements and represent areas of specialization within the field. CCSF offers a general Child Development Certificate as well as numerous emphasis options. Most options requires additional units in Child Development, including the four classes listed below. The remaining  units are electives in Child Development and depend on your area of emphasis. Emphasis options include; Administration, Infant/Toddler Care, School Age Care, Violence Intervention, Pre - Teacher, Special Needs, Youth Worker, Professional Development and Advocacy, etc. There is also a Family Child Care Certificate that requires different classes from those below. The Family Child Care Certificate is a 6 unit certificate specifically for those interested in learning more about the home-based child care field.

    The following "core" courses are required for most postions in early childhood education and for most permit levels. The "core classes are required by the Dept. of Social Services, Community Care Licensing to work in a licensed child care center in California at the teacher level. Students and future child development staff are encouraged to start with the following four courses.

    Course   Units
    CDEV 53 Child Growth and Development 3
    CDEV 65 Orientation to Early Childhood Programs 3
    CDEV 66 Intro to Early Childhood Curriculum 3
    CDEV 67 Child, Family, and Community 3

    CCSF students can also receive an AS Degree with a major in Child Development. The AA in Child Development requires 60 units (30 in General Studies and 30 in Child Development). Eight courses are required (24 units) and 6 units are electives.

    How do I get started? Where can I get help?

    Perhaps the most important first step is to talk to an academic counselor and a career advisor about your interest in the field. CCSF has two terrific resources that can help. Both are located in MUB 247 on the Main Campus at CCSF. Services are offered in English, Cantonese, Spanish and Vietnamese. Financial Aid opportunities are available for CDEV students.


    For Early Care and Education:
    San Francisco Early Childhood Professional Development Project
    (415) 452-5605

    For Elementary and Secondary Education:
    Teacher Prep Center
    (415) 239-3890

    Other resources:
    Child Development & Family Studies Department
    (415) 239-3172

    Child Development Training Consortium (Statewide)
    (209) 572-6080

    City College of SF Child Development Training Consortium (Local)
    (415) 452-5605

    San Francisco State University Child & Adolescent Development BA Degree
    (415) 405-3975 or

    San Francisco State University Liberal Studies Program
    (415) 338-6927