chart of early childhood educations jobs by wage and skill level

The Early Childhood Education sector—accounting for 1.3% of total employment in Philadelphia—includes core industries such as child day care services, elementary schools, child and youth services, and educational support services. Occupational analysis allows for more targeted understanding of employment in elementary and secondary schools.


The Early Childhood Education sector is the smallest sector in Philadelphia with 8,600 jobs, but has grown quickly during the past decade. The sector added an average of nearly 260 jobs per year since 2006. The pace slowed slightly in recent years as approximately 234 jobs were created annually since 2013.  A significant share of job growth has been concentrated in low-skill occupations, but the number of middle skill created in Early Childhood Education during the past decade was still the second most among target sectors. Although it has been one of the fastest-growing sectors, the average wage of $32,100 is lower than in all target sectors, including Retail & Hospitality.


Child day care services accounted for the vast majority of job growth among early childhood education subindustries. Occupations requiring less than Bachelor’s degree, such as childcare workers and teacher assistants, led the sector in job creation, but these occupations also pay the least among early childhood education positions with a median annual salary in the low-$20,000 range. The number of pre-school teachers, a key middle-skill occupation, increased during the past decade, with a slightly higher median wage of nearly $29,000 per year.


  • The Early Childhood Education sector is the smallest target sector in Philadelphia, with approximately 8,600 jobs in 2016.
  • Employment is concentrated in low-skill and middle-skill occupations, with such occupations also accounting for the bulk of job growth the past decade.
  • During the past decade, sector employment increased by an annual average of 4.3% in Philadelphia—more than double the pace in the metro area, state, and nation. This gap has narrowed in recent years, but growth in Philadelphia between 2013 and 2016 was still relatively high, at an average of 3.0%, or 234 jobs per year.
  • The concentration of Early Childhood Education employment in the city is high compared with the national rate and has risen significantly during the past decade.
  • At $32,100 in 2016, the mean annual wage for Early Childhood Education jobs in Philadelphia was higher than the mean annual wage for the sector at the metro, state, and national levels and up slightly from a decade ago.
  • Still, wage growth in Philadelphia has been slower than in all comparison geographies, increasing by an annual average of just 0.3% since 2006.
  • The pace of wage growth in the city did accelerate slightly during the past few years, reaching an annual average of 0.7% between 2013 and 2016. 
  • Projections anticipate that approximately 1,400 net new jobs will be created through 2024—an average of nearly 185 jobs annually. This projection does not account for ongoing and forthcoming programs and policy initiatives such as PHLpreK.
  • The projected 2.2% annual growth rate of Early Childhood Education jobs in the city exceeds projections for the metro, state, and nation.
  • The sector is projected to have 179 replacement openings annually through 2024. 
  • An estimated 82% of all jobs in this sector (7,062) are in Child Day Care Services and the number is projected to continue growing, even without accounting for PHLpreK.
  • At $28,300 per year, average industry pay for Child Day Care Services is very low.
  • Employment in Elementary Schools has grown by an average of 35 jobs, or 4.5%, per year since 2006. 
  • With 3,200 positions in 2016, Childcare Workers represent the largest occupation in this sector, and employment has grown by 1,000 jobs since 2006.
  • Jobs for Childcare Workers are available with minimal training, but pay is low, with a median annual wage of $21,000.
  • The number of positions for Preschool Teachers in the city has increased by 40% over the past decade, for a total of just over 1,800 jobs in 2016. This occupation requires an Associate degree.
  • At $29,000, the median wage for preschool teachers in Philadelphia is less than half that of elementary school teachers ($62,000).