No experience? No worries! Your guide to getting started in your ECEC career
The Sector > Jobs News > No experience? No worries! Your guide to getting started in your ECEC career

No experience? No worries! Your guide to getting started in your ECEC career

by Freya Lucas

January 13, 2023

While it can be daunting to apply for new jobs with no experience, only qualifications, it’s important to remember that everyone has to start somewhere!


With the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector being such an in-demand career pathway, many employers are open to taking on a new hire who may only have had placement experience.


If you want a career working with children, and you have the patience, initiative and creativity it takes to make that happen, read on for four powerful tips to help you to get started as an ECEC professional – even without any paid work experience. 


  • Get qualified – or be working towards a qualification


ECEC is a high-demand profession with lots of open roles and opportunities. Because of this, a number of state and territory governments have developed free training opportunities to allow professionals to get through their training more quickly, and to help save them money along the way. 


In Victoria, there are a range of financial supports and scholarships available for both educators and teachers – check them out here


New South Wales readers can explore the support available here, with information for the Northern Territory here, Western Australia here, South Australia here, Tasmania here, and the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland here


You will also need your working with children check (state/territory relevant), a First Aid certificate, and the relevant abuse and neglect training for your jurisdiction. 


  • Upskill to stand out


While all educators have the same basic qualification sets, there are some things you can do as an ECEC professional to help you get the edge over the competition. 

Do you have a special skill which could boost your work with children? Maybe you can play a musical instrument, cook wonderful food, are super creative, or have another special talent to share. 


You can also do short courses in topics which will help you in your work with children. Learn more about trauma informed practice, being a more inclusive educator, or the unique ways babies and toddlers learn


Many of these courses are free, and will support your practice once you land a role. For more ideas, check out The Sector’s dedicated learning section here


  • Volunteer with children to gain practical experience


Any evidence that you know how to work with children, support them, and build relationships with them will work in your favour. 


Consider volunteering at a local playgroup or library, offer to babysit for friends and family, or approach community organisations to see if there is a creche you can help with to build your confidence in working with children. 


Even if you think you want to work exclusively with one age group, it’s good to get experience with a wide range of age groups, and also children who may have additional needs. 


Sporting clubs are often looking for coaches or umpires, or there may be a not for profit club which needs support. Experiences like these show employers that you’re capable and invested in working with children.


Any volunteer opportunities you pursue demonstrate to a prospective employer that you are willing to help give back to your community If the volunteer experience is in the early childhood field, it can even often lead to a paid position in the future. Volunteer positions show employers you are dependable, can work with others and can maintain a position over a period of time.


  • Build your soft skills 


Good ECEC professionals aren’t just those with the relevant qualifications – they are also those who have good ‘soft’ skills – things like being a good communicator, working well in a team, and showing initiative. 


Other skills, like being able to use technology competently, engage with parents with confidence, and being able to manage situations which are tense are also elements of a happy and successful career in ECEC. 


There are a number of transferable skills that are highly valued by employers which you may have developed in other roles. Think about the ways in which your previous employment experiences might translate to the world of ECEC, and highlight those experiences in your cover letter and resume when applying to ECEC facilities and be prepared to elaborate on them during an interview.


Even if your resume is a little sparse when it comes to relevant ECEC experience, your personality can do a lot of the heavy lifting. 


Find ways to highlight how your everyday personality can be an asset — are you infectiously enthusiastic? Love to organise things? Patient? Find anecdotal examples of your personality and do your best to show how that can be applied to a childcare job.


If you’re a high school student looking for support to get started in ECEC, there’s help available to get work experience – more details here. 


For those outside of the high school space, check out the Big Roles in Little Lives campaign

Download The Sector's new App!

ECEC news, jobs, events and more anytime, anywhere.

Download App on Apple App Store Button Download App on Google Play Store Button