If you are aged between 16 and 18; you may not have a clue about what you really want to do with your life or what job you want. You may have thought about working in childcare but don’t know what the best option is to achieve your aims.

There are many ways you can build a career in childcare – either by staying on in a school or college to gain an NVQ (called a National Vocational Qualification) or by choosing to do a work based VRQ (called a Vocationally Related Qualification).

Here’s the low down of your options:

Option 1: Choose to stay in education

You can choose to stay on in a school or opt to go to college to continue your studies. There is a range of childcare qualifications which could help to lead you directly to a career working in childcare.


  • You have more time to decide about the future, if you’re not sure what to do
  • You get to stay with your group of friends
  • You get help and support for your studies in a familiar environment


  • You must stay in school for another few years whilst you study
  • You are not earning any money
  • Your school may not offer childcare specific qualifications

Option 2: Apply for a childcare apprenticeship

A childcare apprenticeship is a work based training programme which allows you to earn as you learn. You will be based in a childcare setting and released 1 day per week to complete training.

Currently the law states that you must stay in education until you are 17. Many people don’t realise that a childcare apprenticeship still counts as being in education and you can leave school at 16 to start one.


  • You get hands on experience of the job you want to do in a supportive environment
  • You get paid whilst you learn new skills
  • You can leave school earlier than everyone else


  • We can’t think of any!

Option 3: Get a job

The law is changing in 2015, and if you’re still at school you will have to stay in education until the age of 18. This means that if you do not opt to do a childcare apprenticeship, this is the earliest time you can start searching for a job. There are many childcare roles to choose from: just take a look at our job board!


  • You can earn money
  • You can have a break from studies
  • You can gain real life experience of work


  • It may be difficult to adjust to full time work straight away after school
  • There may be no options to progress in your career
  • You may not feel very supported by other staff


Whatever you choose to do, you should take time to weigh up the pros and cons of each option carefully before you take any action. Talking to a trusted adult, careers adviser or teacher may help you to have a clearer understanding of the best path to build a career in childcare for you.

Good luck!


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