Changing careers to give kids their best start

A new career in early childhood education was just the start of a journey of discovery for these teachers

We live in a time of change, and new opportunities have arisen for Victorians like Rowan Kirby Brown and Emma Sanford. Both Rowan and Emma have experienced a positive shift in their careers, thanks to a move into teaching in early childhood education.

Designing a new career

Rowan's background was in textile design. She always believed she would follow a creative career path, but when she began to work in the field, she discovered the career wasn't right for her. Instead, she explained how she reflected on a more rewarding work experience.

'At one stage, I ran an art club for primary school aged children; the experience was wonderful, and this informed my decision to work with children,' Rowan explained.

'I hadn't considered teaching as a way to make an income, and I certainly hadn't considered early childhood teaching. 

'So, I did my research, and I was pleasantly surprised: I discovered I could make a good income and have a balanced lifestyle where I would have time to be creative outside of work.

'I enrolled in a Certificate III in Early Childhood, and I was lucky to begin working before I finished my study. From August 2020, I was studying and working at the same time. I then went on to complete my Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood Education at RMIT. 

'Now, I am so happy to be working as an early childhood teacher; the industry is so rewarding, and the work is also flexible, so I can also focus on my art practice,' Rowan explained.

A new direction

For former social worker and English language teacher Emma Sandford, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that brought on a rewarding career change.

'I had two main careers before working in early childhood education; I was a social worker and then I moved into teaching English to international students. I lost my job due to COVID and began looking for a new opportunity in the education field,' Emma said.

But out of adversity, a new career direction appeared for Emma.

'I was eligible to complete a free TAFE degree, so I studied a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. Then, in 2021, I enrolled in a Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Teaching and finished this in December 2021.

'I love watching and working with children at this age as they continue to develop. We know from research that the first 5 years of education sets a child up for life. So, it's quite a privilege to be involved in teaching children at this age and watching their social, emotional, cognitive and physical development.'

Find out more

Discover more about how you can help children get the best start to the best life through a career in early childhood teaching.

Learn more about how you can get the skills you need to land an early childhood job by reading more about the Victorian Government's Free TAFE Initiative.

To look for jobs in early childhood education, visit Early Childhood Jobs.

Pictured: Emma Sandford

Emma Sandford