Just wanted to add some comments.
I am Associate Diploma trained (old eq of Dipl. in Child Services). I worked full time for 6 years in child care in various centres and wanted to share some experiences with you.
I found it is as the others have said- EXTREMELY UNDERPAID. Eg- after doing my Ass.Dip, my first position as a trained child care worker gave me a wage of $12 an hour. Pretty crappy, hey!
However, I found alot of the stuff I studied and experienced while working in this industry helped me with my own child. Things such as dealing with tantrums in the shopping centre and ways to get kids to do what you would like such as ' we need to go to the toilet now" instead of "do you need to go to the toilet?" Of course, they will say no if you ask!!!! LOL.
My personal experience is that if you can do a little bit of volunteer work while studying ( if time and children allow even just 3 hours a week or so) and try your upmost to get employed by your local council if they offer child care services, they pay better and have better entitlements including programming time away from the kids and the centres aren't profit driven. Unfortunately alot (and I don't mean all) of privately owned centres are run to make a profit and thus you have to fight to buy resources for the kids etc.
Just also wanted to say, if planning to work with kids (esp. babies under 3) make sure you are fully immunised. You can be innmuised for Hep A, Hep B, Pertusus (Whooping Cough), Tetanus, Chicken Pox etc- check with your GP.
I have taken a break from child care and have been working nights stacking shelves at our local Coles for the past 2 years to be able to drop off and pick up my 6 year old from school. I am about to go on maternity leave again and will probably continue to work nights until the next one grows up a bit. (I have found by doing nights, when hubby can mind the kids. I am only about $80 a week worse off, this is due to the cost of paying child care for my then preschooler while I was working)
And the ironic thing is I do 16-20 hour week instead of 40 hours and there is no stress involved.
Sorry for the long post.
Jo, DD 7yrs dance addict; little man 13 months