Early childhood care and education is one of the fastest growing industries in Victoria. Find out from our expert in the field what it takes to become a professional childcare educator as she takes us through the rewards and challenges of working with children.


Maryann James is the MCIE Head of Department for Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). She boasts a long and successful career in early childhood education and now supports others on their learning journey to achieve similar successes.

MCIE has always enjoyed a special connection to early childhood educators and teachers having established strong and supportive connections with industry experts and ECEC service providers that contribute to outstanding graduate outcomes.

Maryann is strongly committed to training ECEC teachers and educators because of the important role they play in shaping young minds. As an ECEC educator it takes dedication, commitment and relentless passion for teaching and nurturing children in their formative years to lay the foundation for their future success as adults. A great ECEC educator helps forge and strengthen children’s connections with the world and the community around them.

We recently sat down with Maryann to find out what’s it like to work in the Early Childhood Education and Care industry, its rewards and the challenges.

Here Maryann discusses why now is a good time to start your career in the sector and how to go about it.


1. The Early Childhood Education and Care industry is rapidly growing. What in your view makes it an attractive career choice?

 It has been established through significant research worldwide that children need a positive and nurturing environment and care during the first 5-years of their lives to develop into engaged and interconnected adults. Well trained and committed ECEC educators are essential contributors for healthy development and growth of children.

Early childhood education is strongly supported by the Government and policy makers providing a long-term and a sustainable future in both funding for infrastructure and expansion of early learning centres, and improved teaching strategies.

The Australian Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Standards, which govern and guide best practices and outcomes for our children, support the value of early education and care of children. The Framework and Quality Standards require educators and teachers to have a high level of training to exercise best practice in an education and care environment.


2. Over the next decade, the Victorian government is planning to invest over $5 billion dollars to deliver funded 3-year old kindergarten for every child. How do you think that will impact the sector?

 This is a fantastic initiative that will not only benefit the children but will also provide a much-needed impetus to the entire sector. The Victorian Government recently launched funded 3-year old kindergarten in 36 kindergarten services across six regional local government areas in Victoria. The full programme will be rolled out over a decade and will ensure that an extra year of learning will be added to children’s play-based education in Victoria. This means more jobs will be created for teachers and educators in the sector. It is estimated that about 2,000 new educators and over 4,000 new early childhood teachers are needed. A world of opportunity for anyone interested in entering the industry.


3. How do you start a career in the early childhood sector?

A professional childcare educator needs a qualification in early childhood to start a career in the sector. While there are traineeships or apprenticeships (even school-based apprenticeships) available, you can also enrol to study TAFE or a private Registered Training Organisation, such as MCIE.

MCIE offers funded Certificate III and Diploma courses in Early Childhood Education and Care to eligible participants.

I have seen people from diverse backgrounds and with no previous qualifications or work experiences successfully transition into a career in the early childhood sector. The first step is a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. This course includes practical placement in an early learning centre and provides the foundational knowledge upon which to build your career. The next step up is a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. This 12-month program also includes practical placement but develops greater depth of knowledge and skill to be a successful leader in the industry.

And if you want to take it further, MCIE has an ECEC Pathway option for Diploma graduates to the Victoria University Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education). The Diploma of ECEC means you gain direct entry into the second year of the bachelor’s degree.


4. What will I learn and how long does it take?

The training provided supports the development of skills and knowledge to work in an Early Childhood setting where you would design, plan, develop and implement educational curriculum, social learnings, promote health and safety and support children with daily routines and transition. You will learn the skills to work in collaboration with other fellow professionals and in partnership with parents to support children on their identified needs, emerging skills and knowledge or enhancing on their developing domains.

The Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care is delivered over 12 months includes 120 work placement hours. The Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care is delivered up to 18 months and includes a further 240 work placement hours.

Classes are delivered face to face and incorporate a blended learning model. This means you’ll participate in classroom discussions, group activities, practical demonstrations, tutorials and project-based learning. You will also be expected to complete self-paced learning and each unit or subject includes compulsory assessment tasks so that you can demonstrate you have the learned the right skills and knowledge to work in the industry.


5. What are some of the traits you look for in successful childcare educators?

The sector functions like a close-knit community and welcomes people from all walks of life. Both men and women find it an attractive career option and discover that it has a lot to offer in terms of job and financial security as well as work satisfaction. In my experience, if you love working with children and have a passion for teaching as well as the willingness to continually learn, then you will find working in early childhood sector a very rewarding experience.

We look for people who are passionate about working with children. Other qualities that suit the industry include compassion, caring and nurturing and the ability to engage positively with children. Your role will include planning and providing for children’s learning and developmental needs. Since you will be providing for the best interest of all children, you will be required to display equity and fairness and advocacy for children’s rights and needs.

The early years in all children’s lives are very important moments where they learn to respond well to love, nurturing and care from the interested and friendly demeanour of the educators. With a balance of age appropriate professional knowledge coupled with fun and joy, it is beneficial for the children, where they experience positive growth, as well as for the educators who find a fulfilling career.


If this sounds like you, then get in touch with one of our course counsellors to learn more about our Certificate III or Diploma courses in ECEC. Have a chat and prepare to take your next steps for a career in early childhood sector as a professional educator. Call us on 1300 737 004 ( Monday-Saturday from 9:00AM- 5:00PM)

Melbourne City Institute of Education (MCIE) is a vibrant and innovative registered training organisation, which offers a range of courses in Melbourne to help students to fulfil their career goals.

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