Federal data suggest that in 2010, the nation’s nearly 1.3 million child care workers earned an average of around $9.28 per hour, or $19,300 per year. The lowest-paid 10 percent of workers earned less than $7.65 per hour. With statistics like that, it’s no wonder studies have found that child care workers leave the profession at high rates — according to one study, more than half of teachers who left the centers at which they worked actually left the occupation entirely.
The turnover in teachers may be due in large part to the lack of opportunity in the child care sector. Even the highest-earning 10 percent of child care workers in the government’s report earned only around $14.08 per hour. Many child care workers have lower educational attainment and lack the resources to go back to school. And even if they could, there are few opportunities for career advancement or pay increases within the field of child care. A report issued last year, though, found that 36 states were trying to change that by implementing “career lattices” for child care workers.