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infant and toddler icon
520,646 Children age 0-5
early educator icon
19,220 Early childhood teaching workforce*

Early educators are engaged in incredibly difficult and complex work that has been recognized as essential to children’s learning and development, supportive for families, and foundational to the economy. In the best of times, educators do this work in conditions that undermine their well-being, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only deepened the harm caused to this workforce, nearly all of whom are women. Adequate public investment and state policies that appropriately prepare, support, and compensate the early education workforce can remedy these dire conditions by establishing systems that benefit early educators and the children they care for and teach.

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Earnings by Occupation
OccupationMedian wage
Child care worker$11.97
Preschool teacher$13.87
Center director$18.96
Kindergarten teacher$25.67
Elementary teacher$25.83
All workers$18.46
  • In 2019 the median wage for child care workers was $11.97, a 2% increase since 2017.
  • For preschool teachers the median wage was $13.87, a 1% decrease since 2017.
  • For preschool or child care center directors, the median wage was $18.96, a 0% increase since 2017.

Early educators pay a penalty for working with younger children.

Arizona early educators with a bachelor’s degree are paid 21.1 percent less than their colleagues in the K-8 system. The poverty rate for early educators in Arizona is 20.5 percent, much higher than for Arizona workers in general (10.8 percent) and 7.9 times as high as for K-8 teachers (2.6 percent).**

Early Childhood Workforce Policies
Qualifications & Educational Supports:
Edging forward
Pre-KBA minimum for lead teacher?No
CDA/equivalent minimum for assistant teacher?No
Licensed CentersBA minimum for director?No
BA minimum for lead teacher?No
CDA/equivalent minimum for assistant teacher?No
Licensed HomesBA minimum for lead teacher?No
CDA/equivalent minimum for assistant teacher?No
Scholarships to Support Educational PathwaysBA?Yes
CDA or equivalent?Yes
Collects data on scholarship recipients?Yes
Work Environments:
CentersPaid time in professional development?No
Paid planning and/or preparation time?No
Salary schedule/benefits?No
HomesPaid time in professional development?No
Paid planning and/or preparation time?No
Salary schedule/benefits?No
Compensation & Financial Relief Strategies:
Salary parity for publicly funded pre-K teachers?No parity
Compensation standards required?No
Compensation guidelines or plans to develop?No
Earmarks for salaries in public funding?No
Financial relief: Stipend or tax credit?No
Financial relief: Bonus?Yes
Workforce Data:
Edging forward
RegistryInclusive of all licensed settings?Other
Collects wage data?Yes
Collects benefits data?Yes
Collects race/ethnicity data?Yes
Reports data publicly?Yes
SurveyInclusive of all licensed settings?Not Applicable
Collects wage data?Not Applicable
Collects benefits data?Not Applicable
Collects race/ethnicity data?Not Applicable
Reports data publicly?Not Applicable
Financial Resources:
State reported extra CCDF spending?No
Ratio of per-child pre-K to K-12 spending over 50%?No
Family & Income Support Policies
Income Supports:
Refundable earned income tax credit?No
Higher than federal minimum wage, indexed for inflation?Yes
Refundable child care tax credit?No
Health & Well-Being Supports:
Edging forward
Paid sick days law?Yes
Paid family leave law?No
Expanded Medicaid eligibility?Yes


*Early educators work in public- and private-sector homes, centers, and schools. This estimate includes the following occupations as defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Occupational Employment Statistics: “child care workers,” “preschool teachers, excluding special education,” “preschool teachers, special education,” “education administrators: preschool/child care center programs.” These data do not include the self-employed, although home-based child care assistants, who are employees, are likely included in the “child care worker” category. This estimate is from 2019 and does not reflect employment changes as a result of the pandemic. Demographic characteristics such as race/ethnicity and gender are not reported due to a lack of comparable data across states. State-based surveys or registries may provide more comprehensive estimates of the ECE workforce. 

**Gould, E., Whitebook, M., Mokhiber, Z., & Austin, L. (2020). Financing Early Educator Quality: A Values-Based Budget for Every State. A series of state-by-state reports produced by the Economic Policy Institute and University of California Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment. Retrieved from