Are the Wages of Early Childhood Educators Competitive With Other Occupations?

Young women and men make career decisions early in life based upon their capabilities, their interests and the amount of money they might expect to earn.  If there are shortages of early childhood educators, wage levels need to be increased to recruit more educators and retain the ones you have.

Why do we have a huge problem recruiting and retaining staff in licensed child care across Canada?  Fundamentally, it is because the wages of early childhood educators and assistants are not competitive with other occupations that require a college education.  Simple as that, really.

This first table shows the latest data from Job Bank about the hourly wage levels in a range of occupations that require a college education, specialized training or apprenticeship training.  Early childhood educators and assistants appears at the top. Then, health occupations requiring a college education are grouped together, followed by occupations in education and law and in social, community and government services. The final group of occupations are in business, finance and administration. Early childhood educators and assistants across Canada earn an average wage of $20.88 an hour, which is lower than all the others.  Read and weep.

NOC CodeOccupation TitleAverage Hourly Wage
4214Early Childhood Educators and Assistants$20.88
3222Dental Hygienist and Dental Therapists$39.45
3223Dental Technicians and Lab Assistants$25.09
3232Practitioners of Natural Healing$34.41
3233Licensed Practical Nurses$28.28
3234Paramedical Occupations$34.68
3236Massage Therapists$34.36
4211Paralegal and Related Occupations$31.31
4212Social and Community Service Workers$25.18
4214Early Childhood Educators and Assistants$20.88
4215Instructors of Persons with Disabilities$28.51
4216Other Instructors$23.09
1221Administrative Officers$29.00
1222Executive Assistants$31.38
1241Administrative Assistants$24.87
1242Legal Administrative Assistants$26.22
1243Medical Administrative Assistants$22.78
1253Records Management Technicians$29.21

Where does the average wage of early childhood educators and assistants apparently fit on the ladder of occupations?  It is similar to the wages paid for occupations requiring only a high school education or on-the-job training.  Even here, many of the other occupations are paid better than child care.

See the table below that lists occupations requiring only a high-school education, except for the first occupation in which early childhood educators require a college education.

NOC CodeOccupation TitleAverage Hourly Wage
4214Early Childhood Educators and Assistants$20.88
3411Dental Assistants$25.37
3413Nurses’ Aides, Orderlies and Service Associates$21.54
3414Other Assisting Occupations in Health Services$21.83
4411Home Child Care Providers$18.03
4412Home Support Workers, Housekeepers and Related$19.02
4413Elementary and Secondary School Teacher Assistants$23.51
1411General Office Support Workers$23.30
1415Personnel Clerks$25.79
1422Data Entry Clerks$22.54
1511Mail, Postal and Related Workers$22.49
1513Couriers, Messengers and Door-to-Door Distributors$19.38
1521Shippers and Receivers$20.66

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The message is clear.  If we want to expand early childhood education as a profession and have enough educators to offer good quality care at $10 a day, there is no real alternative to raising the wages.  Simple as that.