Early years practitioner

nursery nurse nursery assistant nursery teacher nursery worker
Social work and caring services

Career outlook for early years practitioner

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would work with babies and young children from birth until primary school age, helping them to learn in a safe, happy environment.

You would:

  • Plan and run activities like arts and crafts, music and cooking
  • Use activities and games to help children learn to count
  • Read stories and do activities to develop the children’s language skills
  • Take children on outings
  • Feed and change babies
  • Make notes about the children for use in reports
  • Make sure that the national guidance on early years education is reflected in the children’s learning
  • Keep the children safe and well at all times
  • Report any worries to your manager, such as signs of abuse

You may have to act as a key worker for one or more children. This means checking on their progress and keeping their parents and/or carers updated.

You might like to specialise in working with children with physical disabilities, learning difficulties or mental health issues.

You would work in local authority childcare settings or privately owned nurseries.

Working conditions


Nurseries can be open from around 7am in the morning to 6pm in the evening. You would normally work eight-hour shifts within these times each day. Some settings are also open on Saturdays. Part-time work is widely available.


You would mostly work inside the nursery building, although you may sometimes supervise the children during outdoor activities or trips.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Positive attitude
  • Building relationships
  • Cooperating
  • Mediating
  • Supporting
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Creative
  • Observation
  • Developing a plan

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Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.


You would need an NC in Early Education and Childcare (SCQF Level 6) or an HNC in Childhood Practice (SCQF Level 7), depending on your level of responsibility. 

The entry requirements for an HNC in Childhood Practice are two highers including English.

You can also gain your qualification on the job. This would include an SVQ in Social Services (Children and Young People) (SCQF Level 6 or 7). 

A Modern Apprenticeship is also available at SCQF level 7. 

Useful subjects

  • English (required by most courses and employers)
  • Maths
  • Care
  • Childcare & development
  • Health & food technologies

You will also need

You would be registered with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland.

You might need to be at least 17 years old to start some college courses.

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show childcare abilities such as Skills for Work Early Education and Childcare (SCQF level 4/5).

Once qualified you may wish to gain further Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) or Professional Development Awards (SCQF level 7/8/9) qualification in Childhood Practice.