Professional Development

Individual Career Development

Career development reflects an individual’s vision, goals, motivation, and approaches to learning. It addresses the possibility of an overall career path as opposed to focusing only on the current job.

Many different career choices are available to support the field of early childhood education (ECE) and development. With the required training and education, one can work in a variety of settings. These may include Head Start and child care programs; public schools; religious organizations; government agencies; nonprofit organizations; medical and health-related services; and social service agencies. One could work directly with children and families; offer supervision and staff training; provide support and training to parents and other caregivers; or deliver community outreach and education about the needs of children.

Career development provides a chance to explore potential career goals and plan steps to achieve them. The employer benefits as professional development may allow for the formal development of an employee's position within the organization. The Office of Head Start requires a minimum of 15 clock hours of professional development per year. Optimally, these experiences support individual professional development plans and career goals.

A career development plan defines the training, qualifications, and credentials that staff must demonstrate at various levels of professional responsibility. It outlines a path for professional advancement and achievement from entry level to the highest position in the field. Designing a Career Development and Management System for Head Start offers some of the essential elements of such a plan. Many states have developed career ladders that can be useful in planning career development for early childhood professionals.

The individual career development resources below may be useful to program managers, directors, supervisors, staff, training and technical assistance (T/TA) providers, parents, volunteers, consultants, and potential employees.

Aspects of Individual Career Development