Who works in the ECEC Sector

This information was last updated on February 1, 2013 prior to the CCHRSC’s dissolution. For more information, please see the message from the Board

Occupations in ECEC

There are three main occupations in Canada’s ECEC sector:

1.      Early Childhood Educator (ECE)

An early childhood educator (ECE) is an individual with a post-secondary credential in Early Childhood Education and Care who is responsible for the development, delivery, and evaluation of the care and education of children ages 0-12 years in a variety of age groupings, including infant and toddler care, preschool-aged care, school-aged care and inclusive care. Early childhood educators may work in a variety of settings, including publicly funded child care settings, home-based child care settings and family resource programs.

2.      Early Childhood Educator (ECE) Assistant

Early childhood educator (ECE) assistants lead children in activities to stimulate and develop their intellectual, physical and emotional growth under the supervision of early childhood educators (ECEs).

3.      Child Care Administrator

A child care administrator is an individual who is responsible for the long-term and day-to-day operation of an early childhood education and care (ECEC) setting. A child care administrator can be a director, administrator or manager working in the field.

Statistical Overview

Workforce Profile

Members of the broader ECEC labour force include an estimated:

  • 170,340 early childhood educators (ECEs) and assistants
  • 69,785 babysitters, nannies and parent helpers
  • 49,600 teaching assistants who work with children under the age of 12
  • 32,700 kindergarten teachers

This brings the total ECEC workforce to approximately 322,425.


More than 96% of ECEs and assistants are women. This is the sixth most female-dominated occupation in the country, after medical secretaries (99%), dental assistants (98%), secretaries (except legal and medical) (98%), legal secretaries (98%), and dental hygienists and dental therapists (97%).


A higher proportion of people in the ECEC sector have a post-secondary credential (a one-year certificate, a two-year diploma or a three- or four-year university degree) compared to the overall workforce. More specifically:

  • 67% of ECEs and assistants have a post-secondary credential
  • 67% of teacher assistants have a post-secondary credential
  • 98.2% of teachers have a post-secondary credential
  • 43% of babysitters, nannies and parent helpers have a post-secondary credential

On average, 77% of the ECEC workforce have a post-secondary credential compared to 58% of the total workforce in Canada.


ECEs and assistants earned much less than other workers and less than most women in other occupations. Median full-year full-time income for 2005 was:

  • All occupations: $41,401
  • Women: $35,830
  • Elementary and kindergarten teachers: $57,166
  • Teaching assistants: $27,488
  • ECEs and assistants: $20,155
  • Babysitters, nannies, and parent helpers: $15,239

Source: Portrait of Canada’s ECEC Workforce, 2009, CCHRSC

Working Conditions

The job of providing early childhood education and care is complex, demanding and carries a high degree of responsibility. Many day-to-day challenges contribute to staff burnout, feelings that the work is not respected and interest in better, related jobs.

Low wages and challenging working conditions are important factors in the sector's recruitment problems and high turnover. Improving compensation and working conditions is critical to creating a high-quality child care system.

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