Preschool or Childcare Director

Preschool and childcare directors are responsible for the day to day operations of preschools and childcare centers. Directors manage the financial health of their centers in addition to the upkeep of facilities. This management position requires that directors supervise teachers and other staff. They must also address any issues parents bring to their attention.

While the director is not responsible for teaching or planning individual lessons, she does establish educational standards. She also supervises lessons and provides professional development opportunities to make sure teachers are on par with those standards.

There are three kinds of preschools and childcare centers, and they all require directors. The first includes centers and schools that are independently owned and operated. The second are centers that are part of a national chain or franchise. Depending on the franchise, directors may have a significant amount of flexibility with regard to hiring and educational standards. The third kind of preschool includes federally funded centers like public schools and Head Start.

In order to become a preschool or childcare center director, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that most states require at least a high school diploma, however, some states require an associate or bachelor’s degree.

A Day in the Life

  • Morning: A preschool director may start the day by greeting students and parents when they arrive. She may have meetings with parents during this time before the workday begins.
  • Mid-morning: The director might use this time to handle administrative duties like tending to the center’s finances, making sure any necessary repairs are being made, and helping teachers manage any discipline problems from students.
  • Lunch: A preschool or childcare director may emerge from the office during lunch time to check in with teachers and show her face to students. It’s important that she be visible to both students and parents.
  • Afternoon: A preschool director’s afternoon may be filled with meetings with other administrators, parents, teachers, and staff. Many preschool children only stay in school for half of the day, so the afternoon may also be time to hold professional development sessions for teachers.
  • After Work: A preschool director might check email at home to handle any issues that may arise from teachers or parents. She may also do some supervision over her teachers’ lesson plans to ensure all teachers are maintaining high educational standards in the classroom.


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Licensing Requirements

Most states only require a high school diploma along with a nationally recognized license, but an associate or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education can help make preschool directors more marketable. A postsecondary degree can give preschool and childcare directors a sense of what educational standards their students should achieve by the time they enroll in kindergarten. Many franchises and public institutions will want a preschool director to have some experience working with preschool-aged children before coming on as a director.

For more information about what individual states require of early childhood educators, check out our state certification pages.

Areas of Specialization

Preschool and childcare directors are expected to manage all aspects of the center. This could mean anything from filling in for a sick teacher to requesting donations from corporations. In order to do well, a broad range of skills and knowledge are necessary, so specialization is uncommon.

Previous and Next Steps

The most common experience preschool directors have is teaching. Many preschool and elementary school teachers who desire to take on a more administrative role become preschool or childcare directors. Their experience working with young children and their parents coupled with their teaching background can prove invaluable when in a management position. Potential next steps for a preschool director include moving up the administrative ranks into roles such as Principal of an elementary school or a management position at a franchise childcare center. Many of these options, however, may require additional education or training.

For average salary information for preschool and childcare administrators (and several other early childhood education-related positions), go to our Jobs page and select a state.


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