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Working in the early years sector

There is currently a great demand for people to work in the early years, caring and educating children aged 0-5.

Many people are able to gain an early years qualification whilst working - contact your local college or training provider for further details.

Although there are some jobs in early years settings where a qualification is not required, most people who work in nursery and preschool settings gain a level 2 or a level 3 qualification. You can also study a new T level qualification in education and childcare in Suffolk.

Find out more about T levels in education and childcare

You do not need a qualification to become a childminder. More information on becoming a childminder is at the bottom of this page.

Why work in the early years sector?

There will always be work in the early years sector as babies and young children need to be cared for whilst parents and carers work.

Working in the early years includes working in a private daycare nursery, as a childminder, in a preschool, in a school nursery or an out of school club.

Is a career in early years for me?

  • I want a job that is rewarding – Working with babies and young children can be challenging and is incredibly rewarding. You see children develop before your eyes as they engage in the experiences you provide for them.
  • I need some flexibility in my working hours – Working in early years is often flexible to fit that need.
  • I want to develop myself – Early years jobs involve learning about child development and behaviour and experiencing this first hand. There are plentiful opportunities for continuing professional development and meeting people.
  • I don’t want to spend all day sitting at a desk – Most roles involve supporting learning and development through playful experiences spending lots of time outdoors as well as inside as early learning occurs everywhere.
  • I have a social conscience and want to support my local community – Early years settings are at the heart of a community. Working with young children and their families means you are really making a difference to people’s lives.
  • I want a job that is fun – If you like to play, be imaginative and creative, get messy, be outdoors, make things, have varied opportunities, interesting conversations and make lasting relationships then come and work in the early years!

Early years careers videos

Learn from Suffolk practitioners about different roles in the early years sector.

Level 2 practitioner

(video coming soon)

Level 3 practitioner


(video coming soon)

Deputy manager

Nursery manager

(video coming soon)

Early years special educational needs coordinator (SENCo)

(video coming soon)

Other early years careers resources

  • The career pathway map provides detailed information about different early years job roles, entry points and progression routes within the sector.