What can I do with a degree in Early Childhood Teacher Education?

Early childhood laboratory with Erskine fellow

Working in early childhood education offers a challenging and rewarding career, enhancing the lives of infants, toddlers and young children, and providing support for families/whānau in their important task of parenting/caregiving. Early Childhood qualifications at UC have four components:

  • In Education you will learn about the aims and purposes of education, child development, teaching and learning, assessment, the New Zealand education system, socio-political and cultural contexts, communication skills, information skills, and contemporary issues in education.
  • In Professional Inquiry and Professional Practice you will learn what it means to be a teacher in Aotearoa New Zealand. There is a focus on practical teaching skills and spending time working in an early childhood setting alongside an experienced registered teacher.
  • In Curriculum Studies you will learn about Te Whāriki - the Early Childhood Curriculum. Students gain knowledge about the theories of teaching and learning, and skills required to teach effectively within an integrated curriculum.

Through their Early Childhood Teacher Education degree, graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferable to a range of careers. These skills include:

  • Knowledge of teaching and learning processes
  • Understanding of early childhood experiences and development
  • Interpretive and analytical thinking
  • Problem solving skills
  • Thinking critically, creatively and challenging ideas
  • Planning and organisation
  • Patience and understanding
  • Oral and written communication
  • Working in a team.

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available in this major, through community engagement, work-integrated learning and international study tours. These experiences deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge, and employability.

Graduates are likely to find roles in early learning centres or childcare centres. These organisations may be funded by the government, run as a business or part of a franchise, by a church or religious group, or even as part of a charity’s work. They go by various names including:

  • Early learning centres
  • Nurseries
  • Preschools
  • Kindergartens
  • Montessori schools.

Employment opportunities may also be found in a range of settings that value working with young children and their families.

Graduates may choose to specialise and work more closely with groups of infants, toddlers and young children with specific needs, such as Māori, Pasifika, gifted or disabled children. There are also international teaching opportunities, for example in the UK and Australia.

Graduates of UC’s Early Childhood Teacher Education programmes will be eligible for provisional registration. This enables you to apply for early childhood teaching positions in Aotearoa New Zealand. As well as teaching, graduates have a range of career options. See some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Early childhood teacher

  • Plans curriculum experiences that support and extend children’s learning
  • Educates and cares for children
  • Records daily activities and charts progress
  • Builds relationships with families

Kaiako kōhanga reo | Māori language nest teacher

  • Teaches young children in a Māori language and culture-immersed setting
  • Helps develop te reo and tikanga in children
  • Collaborates with whānau and iwi

Early childhood centre director / manager / head teacher / team leader

  • Manages the overall functioning of the centre including scheduling
  • Oversees staff employment and development
  • Builds and maintains community relationships

Early childhood centre assistant manager, assistant supervisor, deputy head teacher

  • Supports the director or head teacher to manage aspects of the centre

Review / quality assurance officer

  • Checks legality of EC centre policies/practices
  • Reports findings and makes recommendations
  • Assesses use of funding

Early childhood education mentor / educator

  • Coaches ECE teachers and educators
  • Builds networks and professional practice for those working in isolated settings eg, in homes

In-home educator

  • Supports children’s development in the home
  • Plans and supervises daily activities

Hospital play specialist

  • Assesses a child’s experience of illness or trauma
  • Ensures children remain active and socialise
  • Encourages therapeutic play to help them cope

Special education / early intervention teacher

  • Teaches children with diverse learning needs
  • Evaluates special needs, working with whanau and teachers to develop suitable learning plans

Teacher aide

  • Adapts teachers’ learning programmes to the needs of specific students
  • Often works one-to-one or in small groups
  • Helps children with personal care eg, medication

Child advocate

  • Promotes well-being and conditions for children
  • Works with children and their families to address education, care or social issues
  • Tackles policies that negatively impact children

Programme coordinator, service manager

  • Researches and plans programmes or services
  • Coordinates staff and liaises with stakeholders
  • Implements and evaluates programmes/services


  • Supports children’s development in their home
  • Plans and supervises daily activities

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Gets involved in a start-up

Get started with Entrepreneurship here.

As they progress in their studies and into a career, our students and graduates often join professional bodies specific to their area of interest. These organisations offer the opportunity to network and collaborate with others within the same community. Other relevant organisations are also listed.

Social media networks, such as LinkedIn (including LinkedIn groups), Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues for students and graduates to keep up-to-date with current industry knowledge and ‘best practice’, networking opportunities, industry-related events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Early Childhood Teacher Education subject page