Early years teacher

Early years teachers, also known as nursery teachers, are specialists in early childhood development.

Annual Salary

£18,000 to £30,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours


Future employment

There will be 4% more Early years teacher jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You’ll work with children from birth to 5 years old, to standards set out in the early years foundation stage (EYFS) framework. 

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • supporting children's development and learning through planned play, activities and tasks to build up their language, literacy and numeracy skills
  • encouraging co-operation and good behaviour
  • making sure the children are safe at all times

As well as working with the children, you’ll:

  • plan and prepare activities and materials
  • set out activities before classes and tidy up afterwards
  • speak to parents and carers about their children’s development
  • monitor children’s progress, and identify and deal with any issues
  • attend meetings and training courses

You’ll also work with and supervise nursery workers (also known as early years educators), teaching assistants and volunteer helpers.

Early years teachers can also work in maintained settings (state-funded nursery or primary schools) where classes are led by a member of staff with qualified teacher status.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • working towards this role


You'll need to get early years teacher status (EYTS) by completing an early years initial teacher training course. There are several ways to do this:

  • undergraduate entry if you're taking an early childhood-related degree, and maybe working in an early years setting
  • graduate entry if you have a degree but limited experience with children and are not currently working with them
  • graduate employment if you have a degree and are working in an early years setting
  • assessment only if you're a graduate with a lot of experience across the 0 to 5 age range, and also have knowledge of key stage 1 and 2 in schools

Early years teacher status qualifies you to teach children up to age 5. If you want to teach older children, or teach in a primary school, you'll usually need to get qualified teacher status (QTS).

You'll usually need:

  • GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English, maths and a science subject or equivalent qualifications
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree


You could work your way into this role by starting as nursery worker and doing a part-time degree in childhood studies or child development. 

Further information

You'll usually need experience of working with children and young people through paid work or volunteering at a school, through youth work or on a holiday scheme.

You can search for jobs in schools through the Teaching Vacancies service.

You can find out more about teaching in early years from Get Into Teaching.

You can also get details through CACHE and the early years career progression map.

£18,000 to £30,000

Starter salary: £18,000 to £22,000

Experienced salary: £23,000 to £26,000

These figures are a guide.


Your working hours will vary depending on where you work. State funded maintained settings are usually open during school hours, while private nurseries will often offer extended hours. Maintained settings are also likely to be closed during the school holidays.

Nursery age children often go to school or nursery for just part of the week and sometimes only for a morning or an afternoon, so you may teach more than one group in a day.

Nurseries can be open from around 7am to 6pm. You’ll normally work up to 8 hours a day within these times. Some settings are also open on Saturdays.

You’ll also spend time outside of these hours planning, preparing and assessing activities, and attending parents' evenings and training sessions.

Once qualified, you could move into management of a nursery or group of nurseries, or work overseas, for example with charities.

You could also work as a supply (temporary) teacher.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to work well with others
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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