As discussed in a different post, here, there are two basic types of childcare facilities, Youchien/Kindergarten and Hoikuen/Nursery school. Each type of facility requires different certifications.
For a Youchien/Kindergarten, a certified teacher is called a Youchien Kyouyu. There are two levels of Youchien Kyouyu, a two-year (Youchien Kyouyu Ni Syu) and a four-year(Youchien Kyouyu Ii Syu). A two-year certificate is needed to teach in a Youchien. A four-year certificate is needed to become an Encho-sensei/Principal of a Youchien. A Youchien teacher license is not valid for work in a Hoikuen. However, when a Youchien teacher is becoming licensed, they almost all take the Hoikushi test as well. Thus, almost all Youchien Kyouyu are also Hoikushi, double license holders.
For a Hoikuen, a certified female or male worker is called Hoikushi. However, there are also gender specific names for certified Hoikushi. Females are referred to as Hobo-san and males are referred to as Hofu-san. There are two ways to become certified as a Hoikushi. One way is to go to university and take classes to become a Hoikushi. There are four-year universities, two-year universities, and trade schools offering courses. In general, only a two-year course is required to become a certified Hoikushi. A second way, is to directly take the government examination for Hoikushi certification. There are many study-at-home books, courses, and correspondence courses for becoming a certified Hoikushi. There is no difference between the certificates received by attending university or passing the government examination. A Hoikushi license is not valid for work in a Youchien.
In addition, Kangofu/Nurses are also certified to work in hoikuen.
NOTE: When referring to “not valid,” we are referring to counting toward the government regulations for licensed workers needed. A Hoikushi is welcome to work in a Youchien and a Youchien Kyouyu is welcome to work in a Hoikuen, they just don’t count towards required staff.
Remember to be careful when describing your childcare workers. Also, make sure you tell any non-certified staff to never identify themselves as “Hoikushi/Hobosan/Hofusan.” Anyone that uses the term “Hoikushi/Hobosan/Hofusan” and is not certified can be subject to a fine of ¥300,000. Make sure to only use those terms with actual certified childcare workers. Any misleading advertisement or statements are punishable, as they should be!
There are also childcare training courses that municipalities may offer.
One such example, is the Hoiku-Mama. A Hoiku-Mama has completed a training course and has been approved to watch up to three children at home.