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Exploring Fulfilling Careers in Early Childhood Education in Singapore

PUBLISHED

04 June 2024

Making a Difference: Exploring Fulfilling Careers in Early Childhood Education in Singapore

Are you passionate about shaping young minds and making a positive impact on future generations? If so, a career in early childhood education in Singapore could be your calling. 

In this article, we will delve into the diverse and fulfilling opportunities available in the early childhood education industry, with a special focus on NTUC First Campus – a leading organisation that nurtures young talents and empowers them to create meaningful change.

Keep reading to explore opportunities that await you, designed for both passionate educators seeking to inspire young souls and driven individuals aspiring to thrive in behind-the-scenes roles. 

Introduction to Early Childhood Education 

What is early childhood education?

Early childhood education is more than just a phase; it is an adventure that lays the groundwork for a child’s lifelong learning journey. Guided by compassionate educators, this critical stage from birth to six years old is where little minds blossom, fueled by exploration, play, and nurturing care. 

During this time, children undergo rapid cognitive, emotional, and social development. Thus, the role of early childhood educators is crucial in providing a nurturing and stimulating learning environment.

What You Need to Know About Pursuing a Career in Early Childhood Education

Career paths in early childhood education

If you have a passion for teaching and a heart for guiding children on their path to discovery, then the diverse career paths within the realm of early childhood education will captivate you. 

Educators

At the heart of early childhood education, preschool teacher jobs are the magical key to unlocking a child’s potential. With a warm smile and a nurturing touch, preschool teachers create a safe and stimulating environment where curiosity is encouraged and learning knows no bounds. Whether you aspire to care for infants, toddlers, or older preschoolers, each age group presents unique joys and challenges, making every day a new adventure.

  • Infant care teacher: Babies need tender care and gentle guidance during their formative months. Infant care teachers provide a nurturing haven where these little bundles of joy can thrive and reach their developmental milestones by focusing on a relationship-based curriculum during the early stages of their education. Through cultivating positive and trusting connections with children and parents, the bonds established serve as the foundational building blocks of a child’s development, paving the way for their growth.
  • Preschool teacher: As children transition into the toddler phase, preschool teachers spark wonder and excitement through play-based learning while supporting their physical, emotional, and social growth. 
  • Part-time teacher: If you are seeking a flexible schedule, part-time teaching roles offer the perfect blend of fulfilling work and personal life balance.
  • Assistant teacher: Working hand in hand with lead educators, assistant teachers provide support, ensuring a seamless learning experience for students.
  • Deputy Centre Lead: Reporting directly to the Principal, a deputy centre lead plays a pivotal role in shaping the educational experience at the preschool. Their contributions to curriculum development, resource management, and community engagement are essential elements in creating a nurturing and successful learning environment.
  • Principal: As the guiding force behind the school’s vision and mission, principals play an important part in creating an inclusive and dynamic learning environment for both students and teachers.
Therapists

Within the world of early childhood education, preschool teacher jobs are not the only driving force. Specialised roles play a pivotal role in supporting educators and contributing to the overall excellence of early childhood education. These positions are designed to complement and enhance the efforts of educators, ensuring a comprehensive and enriching learning environment for young minds. These are some examples of specialist jobs: 

  • Pedagogist: Through systematic observations and assessments, a pedagogist gathers valuable insights into children’s development, learning styles, and interests to guide educators in adapting teaching methods that align with individual learning needs. 
  • Curriculum specialist: This educational expert serves as a visionary architect, crafting a dynamic and engaging learning framework that caters to the diverse needs of young children. You will go beyond textbook-based education and focus on fostering creativity, critical thinking, and a love for exploration among budding learners.

Learning support jobs are also critical roles that focus on ensuring the holistic development and well-being of young learners. These positions play an important role in providing additional assistance and guidance to children who may require extra support in their educational journey. Examples:

  • Occupational therapist: This role empowers children to develop essential motor skills, enabling them to explore the world with newfound independence. 
  • Speech and language therapist: They assess and provide interventions for speech and language delays, working collaboratively with educators to integrate tailored strategies into the classroom setting.
Corporate roles

Behind every successful early childhood education institution, a team of dedicated individuals works tirelessly to ensure smooth operations, strategic planning, and impactful outreach. These are some examples of corporate roles

  • Administration: Administrative roles encompass various responsibilities, including managing school logistics, admissions, and communication with parents.
  • Human resources: The HR team plays a vital role in recruiting, training, and supporting the passionate educators and specialists who form the backbone of the school, as well as corporate roles that provide support from behind the scenes. 
  • Brand and communications: Brand communications professionals craft captivating narratives that showcase the school’s mission and values, attracting both students and stakeholders. 
  • Finance: Responsible for managing budgets and financial planning, finance professionals ensure the school’s financial sustainability. 
Management associate roles

For ambitious individuals with a flair for leadership, a Management Associate Programme offered by esteemed organisations like NTUC First Campus opens doors to diverse career opportunities. There are two tracks one can choose from: corporate or education, depending on your career goals. 

The two-year Management Associate Programme (Corporate) features a structured onboarding process and two enriching job rotations, offering you a holistic understanding of the organisation and the field of early childhood education.

  • Corporate department: One year in a corporate function where you will build your professional skills and gain a broader perspective from a group context. This invaluable exposure will equip you with insights into various aspects of the organisation’s operations, fostering a comprehensive understanding of our mission and values. 
  • Business unit rotation: One year in a business unit where you work closely with a dedicated team. This hands-on experience will empower you to contribute to key aspects of our business, providing in-depth knowledge of areas such as operations. You will play a crucial role in driving meaningful change and innovation within our organisation. 
  • Upon completion: Upon successful completion of the two-year program, you will be posted to a permanent role, tailored to match your career aspirations, strengths, and the organisation’s evolving needs. This pivotal moment marks the beginning of your impactful journey as a leader in early childhood education. 

Individuals with a passion for grooming the future generation may opt for the Management Associate Programme (Education) track, crafted to foster your leadership growth and mould you into a proficient centre leader or specialist. Beyond preparing you for leadership in early childhood education, this pathway opens doors to leadership opportunities in various corporate roles at NTUC First Campus’ headquarters. 

  • Year 1 to 2: As a teacher or senior teacher, you will enhance foundations in curriculum design, child development, and pedagogy, attain mastery in curriculum implementation for children aged 2 months to 6 years old, guide and lead small teams, and cultivate strong relationships between parents and the centre. 
  • Year 3 to 4: Progress to lead teacher or deputy centre leader to cultivate and fortify relationships within the centre, attain expertise in centre management operations, and provide mentorship and coaching to staff. 
  • Year 5 onwards: As a deputy centre leader or principal, you will embark on an Advanced Diploma in Early Childhood Leadership (ADECL) to attain Principal certification, develop leadership skills, and attain competency in task forces and projects. 

The Management Associate Programme also offers a range of enriching experiences and support to foster your growth and development:

  • On-the-job learning: The programme enables you to gain practical expertise in real-world scenarios through hands-on learning. As you take on challenging assignments, you will learn, adapt, and excel in your personal and professional growth.
  • Leadership development: NTUC First Campus is committed to nurturing exceptional leaders. Through tailored leadership development programs and workshops, you will enhance your leadership skills, helping you to inspire and guide your teams towards excellence.
  • Projects for extended learning: You will have the opportunity to take on strategic projects that address critical organisational needs. These opportunities will expand your knowledge, enhance your problem-solving abilities, and deepen your impact within our organisation.
  • Mentoring and coaching: NTUC First Campus recognises the power of mentorship and coaching in shaping future leaders. You will receive guidance and support from seasoned professionals, helping you navigate challenges and capitalise on opportunities.

Find out more about NTUC First Campus’s Management Associate programme here.

Trainee roles

Trainee roles in early childhood education allow aspiring educators to embark on a fulfilling career. As a trainee, you will have the opportunity to observe and engage with experienced preschool teachers, witnessing first-hand the transformative power of education in shaping young minds. Under the guidance of mentors, you will actively participate in on-the-job training and classroom training, gaining insights into effective teaching methodologies and child development principles. 

Trainee roles also offer a structured pathway to professional growth, providing a stepping stone for aspiring early childhood educators to kickstart their careers. Jumpstart your career with the programme and enjoy key features such as full course fee sponsorship, a competitive salary of S$2,000 to S$3,200 during the course, healthcare benefits, leave entitlements, a guaranteed placement at over 145 centres islandwide, and more. 

Find out more about NTUC First Campus’s Sponsored Traineeship programme here.

Prerequisites for working in early childhood education in Singapore

Aspiring educators who aim to make a meaningful impact in the lives of young learners must meet essential prerequisites. Here are the key factors to consider when pursuing a career in this dynamic field: 

Educational pathways and degrees

The journey towards becoming an early childhood educator typically starts with obtaining the necessary educational qualifications.

  • WSQ Higher Certificate in Infant Care (HCIC): A required professional qualification for an educarer working with children aged 2 to 18 months. The course is designed to prepare early years’ educarers with the knowledge and skills in caregiving, provision of appropriate learning experiences and stimulating environment in the care of infants and toddlers.
  • Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE): Equips you with the fundamental knowledge and practical skills required to work with young children in preschool settings.
  • Advanced Certificate in Early Years (ACEY): A course that covers the guiding principles behind early childhood development and imparts knowledge related to interacting, planning and implementing programmes conducive for children below the age of three. 
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education: An undergraduate programme that provides a deeper understanding of child development, curriculum design, and pedagogy in early childhood education. Take note that obtaining a degree is not compulsory.

If you do not have the required qualifications to pursue a job as an early childhood educator, there are roles that will still enable you to make a meaningful impact on children’s lives. For instance, at NTUC First Campus, you can choose to kickstart your career with the Infant Care or Preschool/Childcare Trainee Teacher Traineeship Programmes. These initiatives are designed to equip you for a role as an early childhood professional, offering avenues for career advancement and development as a trainee to teacher, senior teacher, then lead teacher and so forth. The programmes include an attractive sign-on bonus and sponsorship of accredited diploma and certification courses. This, enables you to work, study, and receive full-time remuneration throughout the duration of the traineeship.

Qualifications and requirements

Beyond formal education, aspiring educators must also meet specific qualifications and requirements set by regulatory bodies and educational institutions in Singapore.

  • Language proficiency: Proficiency in English and other relevant languages is essential to effectively communicate with children, parents, and colleagues. Teachers in the L2 category must have obtained a B4 in GCE ‘O’ Level English Language 1, while those in the L2C category must have a C6 in their GCE ‘O’ Level English Language 2 and a B4 equivalent score within two years of L2C certification. 
  • Background checks: These are conducted to ensure the safety and well-being of children in early childhood education settings. Individuals must have a clean record and demonstrate a commitment to child protection. 

Additional attributes that employees look out for include:

  • Willingness to actively participate in both classroom and extracurricular activities
  • A passion for challenges and a belief in integrating learning into daily life
  • The desire to see tangible impacts from your contributions
  • A sense of connection to a larger purpose
  • Believes that every child deserves a strong foundation in life
  • Commitment to exploring new trends in the industry and contributing innovative ideas
Advanced degrees and additional training

In the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of early childhood education, educators strive to continuously enhance their knowledge and skills to provide the best learning experiences for young children. Advanced degrees and additional training play a vital role in empowering educators with innovative approaches and a deeper understanding of child development.

  • Advanced Certificates: The National Institute of Early Education (NIEC) offers specialised certificate programmes tailored to meet the needs of existing early childhood educators. These programmes are structured to provide valuable opportunities for upskilling, allowing educators to enhance their skills, acquire new knowledge, and further develop their expertise in the field.
  • Post-Diploma Courses: Recognising the importance of specialised knowledge in early childhood education, NIEC offers post-diploma courses such as the Specialist Diploma in Early Childhood Intervention (Special Needs). The curriculum covers a range of topics to equip educators with the skills to support children with diverse learning needs.
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD): Offered by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), CPD allows educators to enhance their competencies and stay updated with emerging trends in early childhood education. The framework encompasses various learning pathways, including workshops, courses, conferences, and networking opportunities, fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth.
The benefits of a career in early childhood education

A career in early childhood education such as childcare teacher roles is more than just a job; it is a calling that brings deep satisfaction and meaningful rewards. Educators and behind-the-scenes personnel in this field play a crucial role in inspiring and positively influencing the lives of young children. Here are some key benefits if you choose to dedicate yourself to nurturing and shaping the future generation: 

Making a difference in the lives of young children

Educators and specialists, as well as those in corporate roles, play a pivotal role in fostering a love for learning, instilling values, and nurturing the innate curiosity of young minds. Witnessing the spark of understanding in a child’s eyes or witnessing them take their first confident steps is a priceless experience that will fill your heart with joy and purpose. 

Job Fulfilment

Preschool teacher jobs offer educators the chance to witness the transformative growth and development of children under their care, knowing that they have played an instrumental role in shaping their foundation for lifelong learning. The joy of witnessing a child’s progress, accomplishments, and newfound skills will serve as a constant reminder of the profound impact of your work.

Growing Remuneration

A career in early childhood education is not just emotionally rewarding; it also offers competitive remuneration. Median salaries in early childhood education have been experiencing growth at a rate surpassing that of the general job market. This upward trend is anticipated to persist in the coming years, propelled by the continued expansion of the sector.

Employment opportunities

The field of early childhood education is witnessing a surge in employment opportunities, driven by the increasing demand for early childhood services. This expansion is not only creating new positions for early childhood educators but also contributing to a more stable and secure job market in the industry.

Progression opportunities

With so many occupations to choose from within a preschool, you have various paths to explore within the sector. Additionally, there is room for advancement beyond the preschool setting by transitioning into corporate roles. This diversity allows you to shape your career path according to your interests and goals.

The opportunity to shape young minds, make a difference in their lives, and witness their growth and success is a privilege that few professions can match. As early childhood educators continue to inspire and nurture young learners, they sow the seeds of a brighter future for generations to come, fostering a society built on the strong foundations of knowledge, compassion, and curiosity.

Salary levels in early childhood education

Salary levels can vary based on several factors, each of which plays a significant role in determining the compensation received by individuals at different stages of their careers. However, as the early childhood education industry consists of many operators within the government and private sectors, there isn’t a standard salary scale. Remuneration can differ across the board. 

Trainee Teacher Salary

If you are just starting your journey in early childhood education, traineeship programmes in institutions such as NTUC First Campus offer structured internship programmes to gain hands-on experience and receive mentorship from experienced educators. Trainee positions at NTUC First Campus (NFC) can offer an entry-level salary of S$2,000 to S$3,200. While the salary for trainee positions may be lower, the focus is on learning and professional development, paving the way for future growth and higher earning potential.

Preschool Teacher Salary

As you gain experience and expertise, your salary level will naturally increase. If you have completed formal education and obtained relevant qualifications, such as a diploma or degree in early childhood education, you are likely to receive higher salaries than trainees, ranging between S$2,760 and S$4,470 (from Beginning Preschool Educator to Deputy Centre Leader) [source: Early Childhood Development Agency, Singapore]. Additionally, continuous professional development and specialisation in specific areas may contribute to salary increments for those taking on preschool teacher jobs.

Preschool Principal Salary

Principals hold crucial leadership roles within institutions, overseeing day-to-day operations, managing staff, and implementing strategic initiatives. As an experienced educator with strong leadership skills, you will receive a higher salary compared to teachers. The responsibilities and contributions you will have to bring to the table justify the higher compensation. 

Specialist Salary

Within the early childhood education sector, there are specialised roles that require expertise in specific areas, such as special education, curriculum development, or educational technology. Educators who assume these specialist positions, often equipped with advanced degrees or certifications, may command higher salary levels. However, take note that the salary depends on the nature of the specific role assumed.

While the roles mentioned above are significant in determining salary levels, several other factors may influence compensation: 

Type of institution

The size and reputation of the institution, such as private preschools, government-funded schools, or non-profit organisations, can impact salary levels.

Years of experience

The level of experience you possess can significantly influence your earning potential, as more experienced educators often receive higher salaries. 

Professional achievements

Educators who receive accolades and awards, or contribute significantly to the early childhood education community may be eligible for additional bonuses or incentives.

Choose NTUC First Campus for a Rewarding Career in Early Childhood Education

How NTUC First Campus stands out from the crowd

If you are passionate about shaping young minds, fostering a love for learning, and making a positive impact in the lives of children, NTUC First Campus offers an exceptional platform for your career in early childhood education. 

As a leading organisation committed to excellence in early childhood education, NTUC First Campus stands out as the ideal choice for educators seeking a nurturing and inspiring environment. Here are the compelling reasons why you should consider joining our dynamic team: 

Shared purpose

At NTUC First Campus, our mission is to provide high-quality education and care to every child. Our dedicated educators work collaboratively, united by a shared purpose to make a difference in the lives of young learners. Joining our team means becoming part of a passionate community driven by the belief that every child deserves the best possible start in their educational journey.

Tailored growth

We value the growth and development of our educators. Whether you are starting your career or seeking advancement opportunities, we offer tailored growth pathways and continuous professional development. From trainee positions to leadership roles, we invest in your success, providing the support and resources needed to thrive in your early childhood education journey.

Innovation for impact

We embrace the latest research and best practices to create dynamic learning experiences for children. As part of our team, you will have the opportunity to leverage innovative teaching methodologies and contribute to initiatives that shape the future of early childhood education in Singapore.

Supportive community

Our nurturing and supportive community fosters a collaborative and inclusive environment. As part of our team, you will have the opportunity to network with experienced educators, exchange ideas, and share best practices. Our close-knit community ensures that you never feel alone on your journey.

Career advancement and professional development

NTUC First Campus provides educators with a clear roadmap for career advancement and continuous learning. 

  • Curriculum training: We understand the importance of a well-rounded curriculum that caters to the unique needs of young learners. As part of our team, you will receive comprehensive curriculum training that equips you with the latest methodologies and approaches to create engaging and enriching learning experiences.
  • Mentoring support: As you embark on your journey, you will receive invaluable mentoring support from experienced educators who will guide and inspire you. Our mentors will be your pillars of encouragement, providing insights and constructive feedback to help you grow and excel in your role.
  • Sponsorships and scholarships: To support your pursuit of higher qualifications and specialisation in early childhood education, we offer sponsorships and scholarships for relevant courses and certifications. This commitment to sponsoring your educational journey ensures that you are equipped with the expertise needed to make a lasting impact in the lives of young learners.
  • Leadership development programmes with universities: NTUC First Campus partners with renowned universities to offer leadership development programmes. These programmes provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge to lead and inspire teams, driving positive change within the community.
  • Exposure to industry best practices through collaborations: Our collaborations with industry partners allow you to stay at the forefront of best practices and innovative approaches in early childhood education. You will have the opportunity to engage in workshops, conferences, and forums that provide insights into emerging trends and research in the field. 
Compelling total rewards

Beyond competitive salary packages, NTUC First Campus offers a range of total rewards, including healthcare benefits, staff welfare programmes, and opportunities for personal growth and work-life balance. 

What NTUC First Campus looks for in early childhood educators

At NTUC First Campus, we take great pride in our team of dedicated and passionate early childhood educators. When selecting educators to join our team, we look for the following essential attributes:

Interpersonal skills

The ability to connect with children, parents, and colleagues on a personal level is crucial in creating a warm and supportive learning environment. Educators who can establish strong relationships with young learners and their families promote trust, enabling a more productive and enjoyable educational experience.

Ability to create a positive learning environment

We value educators who can create a safe, welcoming, and stimulating setting where children feel encouraged to explore, learn, and express themselves. Cultivating an atmosphere of curiosity and creativity enables children to thrive and develop a love for learning.

Good time management skills

Early childhood educators juggle multiple responsibilities, from planning lessons to supervising activities and providing individualised attention to each child. Thus, effective time management skills are crucial to ensure that educators can strike a balance between teaching, nurturing, and administrative tasks, optimising the learning experience for every child in their care.

Passionate professionals

We seek candidates who wholeheartedly embrace the belief that every child deserves the right start in life. This core principle underscores the organisation’s commitment to providing quality early childhood education and care.

Career beyond a job

We look for individuals who view their career not merely as a job but as a lifelong passion. The organisation values candidates who see their professional journey as a meaningful opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others, particularly in shaping the formative years of children.

Possess a growth mindset

We also want educators who embrace a growth mindset — a belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. A growth mindset fosters resilience, adaptability, and a willingness to learn from challenges and mistakes. Such educators view obstacles as opportunities for growth and can inspire young learners to adopt a positive approach to learning. 

Team player

We look for educators who can work harmoniously within a team, sharing ideas, supporting one another, and collectively contributing to the growth and success of the institution. A strong sense of teamwork allows educators to exchange best practices, enrich teaching methods, and collectively create a nurturing and cohesive educational environment.

Hear from our educators why NTUC First Campus is their preferred choice

As pioneers in early childhood education, we strive to create a nurturing and innovative environment that empowers educators to make a lasting impact on young learners’ lives. Through their voices, you will discover the unique opportunities, collaborative spirit, and unwavering commitment to excellence that make NTUC First Campus stand out as the ideal destination for aspiring educators.

Joyce Teo, recipient of the 2023 Outstanding Preschool Educator Award at the ECDA Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Development, finds great excitement in her role as an early childhood educator. Motivated by a longstanding interest in the developmental stages of children in their formative years, Joyce chose the path of becoming an early childhood educator at Little Skool-House to delve deeper into this passion. 

She also highlighted the value of continuous learning, emphasising the opportunity she had to go on a study trip with other educators to find out more about outdoor play. By actively participating in such initiatives that NTUC First Campus encourages, Joyce not only enriches her own professional development but also contributes to creating a more dynamic and engaging learning environment for the children under her care.

Zoe Chan, Principal at My First Skool, attributes her successful integration into the early childhood education sector to the NTUC First Campus-sponsored trainee programmes. These initiatives have not only equipped her with essential content knowledge but have also facilitated a smooth transition into her role. The company’s backing has played a crucial role in providing Zoe with the resources and opportunities necessary to navigate and excel in the early childhood industry. 

Joining the NTUC First Campus family

NTUC First Campus offers diverse pathways for educators at various stages of their careers. Whether you are a fresh graduate, a mid-career professional, or an aspiring leader, we welcome you to be a part of our family.

Traineeship

If you are an aspiring educator looking to gain hands-on experience and practical knowledge, our traineeship programs are the perfect entry point. Under the guidance of experienced mentors, trainees will have the opportunity to work with young learners, participate in curriculum planning, and engage in various classroom activities. The traineeship provides a solid foundation for those who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of children and wish to explore a rewarding career in early childhood education.

Management Associate Programme

Joining our team as a fresh graduate, you can choose between our Management Associate Programme Corporate or Education programmes that are designed to nurture future leaders. In the Corporate programme, you will be immersed in a two-year program that includes job rotations in corporate functions and business units. This holistic experience will provide you with a well-rounded understanding of the early childhood education sector, equipping you with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in leadership roles within NTUC First Campus. In the Education programme, you will receive comprehensive training and mentorship to hone your teaching skills and develop a deep understanding of early childhood development. Working closely with experienced educators, you will have the chance to make a positive impact on young minds, laying the groundwork for a successful and fulfilling career.

Mid career 

If you are a professional from another field looking to transition into early childhood education, NTUC First Campus welcomes you to bring your expertise and passion to our family. We value the diverse experiences and perspectives that mid-career professionals bring and offer comprehensive training and development programmes to help you build on your existing skills and embark on a new chapter in your career.

How to Apply

NTUC First Campus stands as the ideal choice to kickstart your career in early childhood education. We welcome you to join our family and be an integral part of a team dedicated to transforming lives.

View our current job openings here and apply now!

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