There are many different job roles and qualifications in the early years sector. If you read our case studies, which you can find via the For MITEY Men drop-down menu on our homepage, or via this link, you’ll get some sense of the varied routes you might take into this line of work.
You can find out more on the websites or organisations that represent early years professionals. These include the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY); the Early Years Alliance and the National Day Nurseries Association.
If you want to find out what your options are locally, in terms of training and/or volunteering opportunities, be prepared to do some legwork and get in touch with some local nursery providers. Ask to have a chat with the owner or a senior manager; many settings are looking to expand their staff so they should be responsive.
It may also be useful to contact the local authority early years team, whose details you should be able to find via the main local authority website for your area. Here you can find lists of links to local authorities in England; in Wales; in Scotland; and in Northern Ireland.
Bear in mind that there are many specialist and non-mainstream qualifications in the world of early years education. Depending on your previous qualifications and experience – and your current aspirations – these may feel like a good ‘fit’. You could think about training to work in forest schools, for example; or as a Montessori practitioner (as a man you may qualify for a special bursary if you go down the latter route).
Although there is no ‘official’ framework of regional/local MITEY networks, some do exist; they are listed here. These networks tend to be run by volunteers on a shoestring, but they can be a mine of useful information and support. Bear in mind that all the organisations listed at the bottom of our website as MITEY Charter signatories, are committed to getting more men into the workforce. And if you’re on social media, you could follow us on Twitter and look at our followers, to find other people and organisations that might be helpful.
If you’ve tried all this and have drawn a blank, contact us via the Contact form on this website, and we will do our best to connect you with people who can help.
In the meantime, here is a quick outline sketch of the key qualifications and job roles within mainstream early years education in England and Wales.
Level 2 qualifications prepare you for front-line roles, whose names might include nursery assistant, pre-school assistant, playgroup assistant or nanny. The relevant qualification is Level 2 Certificate for the Children and Young People’s Workforce.
Level 3 is for front line practitioners with more experience and/or are working as supervisors. Job titles might include nursery nurse, nursery supervisor, pre-school/playgroup leader or childminder. There is a Level 3 Early Years Educator qualification in England, and Level 3 Children’s Care, Learning and Development in Wales.
At Level 5 are experienced practitioners who have responsibility for planning and delivering services; these people might be nursery owners or have job titles like nursery manager, area manager (if they work for a nursery chain). Such people may have done an Early Years Foundation Degree, or a Level 5 Children’s Care, Learning and Development in Wales.
Above this, at Level 6, are graduate level professionals, whose job title may be similar to those at Level 5, but who hold a degree in Early Childhood Studies or have acquired Early Years Qualified Teacher Status.
For more details about the qualification criteria laid down under the Early Years Foundation Stage reforms (introduced in 2013) check out the Foundation Years website. You can also find out more about programmes to increase the skills of the early years workforce.
For more details about the various early years qualifications, and their place in the overall hierarchy – important because it affects settings’ staff-child ratios – check out this guidance from the Department for Education.