According to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services, the median hourly wage for those who work in centers for children ages zero to five is $10.60 an hour. “If they were employed full-time, for the standard 2,080 hours a year, that would translate to about $22,000 a year,” the report notes. That’s below the poverty line for a family of four. And it turns out that three-quarters of these workers are showing up to their jobs full time.
Those who care for the very youngest are also paid less than those who care for slightly older children. Workers who look after kids ages zero to three make a median wage of $9.30, while those caring for children three to five make $11.90.
Meanwhile, these workers are highly experienced, with a median of 10 years for center-based workers and about 14 years for those who run daycare out of their homes. More than half of both reported having 10 years of experience or more. And more than half also have a college degree. Yet even more highly educated workers still don’t make much. Workers with a Bachelor’s degree make a median wage of $14.70 an hour, which comes to $30,576 a year for full-time work. “[W]ages for college-educated ECE [early childhood education] teachers and caregivers are much lower than for comparably educated workers in the overall economy,” the report notes.
The low pay for those who work in childcare centers reflects low wages for other types of caregivers. A third of nannies make less than minimum wage. Home health and personal care aides make a median wage of $9.70. This means that those who care for our children, elderly parents, and disabled loved ones are often barely scraping by.
Yet while teachers aren’t paid lavishly, they can still live more comfortable middle class lives. They make more than $50,000 a year at the median.