Job type

Early years teacher

£25k - £38k

Typical salary

32 – 37

Hours per week

Early years teachers, also known as nursery teachers, are specialists in early childhood development and work with children up to the age of 5.

More info

  • Rewarding work with young children in nurseries and pre-schools
  • Can offer flexible working and progression into management
  • Requires sensitivity and understanding, patience and excellent verbal communication skills

As an early years teacher you'll work with children from birth to 5 years old, to standards set out by the government. 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.


  • 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
  • Work with and supervise nursery workers (also known as early years educators), teaching assistants and volunteer helpers


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. 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.

You'll need

This role would be ideal for someone with the ability to work well with children, excellent organisational and time management skills, creative ideas for designing learning and play activities, the ability to manage classes and deal with challenging behaviour, excellent communication skills, patience and a good sense of humour.

You'll need to gain early years teacher status (EYTS) by completing an early years initial teacher training (EYITT) course.

There are several routes available including graduate entry (for degree holders with limited experience with children and who aren't currently working with them), graduate employment (for degree holders currently working in an early years setting), undergraduate entry (for those taking an early childhood related degree, and who may be working in an early years setting), and assessment only (for graduates with substantial experience across the 0 to 5 age range who 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).

For all routes you'll need GCSEs in English, maths and a science subject or equivalent qualifications (some parts of the country require GCSE B grades - please check for your area), passes in numeracy and literacy skills tests, and enhanced background checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). You'll also need some experience of working with young children through paid work or volunteering, for example at a local school, nursery or on a holiday play scheme.

Alternatively 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.


Once qualified, you could move into management of a nursery or group of nurseries. You could also work as a supply (temporary) teacher or take further training to become a primary school teacher or play therapist.