Earn Your Early Childhood Education Certification & Guide

An ECE Certification Degree & Career Guide

Components of an ECE Certification

An early childhood education (ECE) certificate can lead to a successful, stable and rewarding career with plenty of room for growth opportunities. Individuals who choose this profession should possess certain traits and skills such as compassion, patience, superior communication and creativity. They must also have a deep love for children and an open mind to diversity in every capacity.

Children are highly influential during these ECE years, and their exposure to education throughout this time will mold their views toward education and teachers for the remainder of their educational experience. People who pursue this career path will learn to channel the energy and natural curiosity of children and channel and harness it toward educational success. And these educators must pay close attention to changes in behavior and developmental progress to be able to provide the most optimal educational experience possible, including catching any learning disabilities early on, when they can be treated most effectively.

Preschool and Kindergarten Certification

A certificate in early childhood education will allow graduates to legally work directly with children in any number of school districts throughout the country. Many job opportunities will be as the associate of a teacher rather than a primary teacher. It is important to note that the requirements for certifications will vary from state to state. And a certificate that is accepted in one state may not be accepted in another without extra work from the one seeking a new state license.

Where Can I Work?

An early childhood education certificate will provide you with several potential places of employment; however, the job opportunities will be limited in comparison to those with higher degrees. You could work for most public and private schools in some capacity. It is possible to apply to jobs at a childcare or daycare center. An often-overlooked job for certificate graduates is a position within various religious organizations to help care for young children in their community. You can also work for corporations with on-site childcare or educational institutions for children with special needs. And both public entities and government organizations hire people with ECE certificates. A certificate in early childhood education is an excellent way to increase your current salary, to achieve entry-level positions without a degree, and to pursue jobs that require specialization.

Some of such potential career paths include the following:
- Preschool Teacher

This position is highly dependent upon the employers requirements, as many public preschools require a bachelor’s degree; whereas, other preschools (private) may only require a certificate. As a preschool teacher, you will help children with their behavior, cognitive, social, and academic skills to ensure a successful educational career. You will also be required to assist with basic care needs as preschoolers are typically between the ages of two and four. A preschool teacher has an average median income of $12.46 per hour.

- Teaching Assistants

This is one of the most common careers for people with a certificate in early childhood education. These assistants work in both traditional classrooms and special needs classrooms. Assistants are supervised by the primary classroom teacher. The teacher will assign tasks to the assistant. These tasks might include material preparation, observing students, behavioral management, and tutor sessions. A teaching assistant has an average median income of $12.18 per hour.

- Personal Care Aide

Many career opportunities for certificate holders are located in the home of a client rather than in a school setting. You might choose to become a personal care aide (PCA), or assistant, to help children with special needs in their residence. A PCA steps in when a family has to be away from the home, or if the child’s needs are too much for the family to care for on their own. The PCA might take the student to the doctor, give them medicine, and provide basic care. They will also help to integrate and transition the family and the child into a proper educational environment when the time is right. A personal care aide has an average median income of $10.59 per hour.

- In-Home or Center Childcare or Tutoring

Another career path in a residence is to work as an in-home teacher or tutor. These individuals help students with a solid developmental foundation that allows them to excel from day one of their school experience in kindergarten. You will help to determine the best strategies for the young student to learn and communicate so they are not left behind with the presence of more students in a classroom setting. These same skills can be put to use in a childcare center that provides foundational learning to young children but will likely only require part-time employment. An in-home teacher has an average median income of $17.52 per hour.

Certification Requirements for Early Childhood Educators

The classes for early childhood education certificates will prepare program participants to be able to teach a number of subjects and skills. Children will learn important, traditional lessons involving many areas of education, such as math, science, vocabulary and social studies. However, they will also learn developmental skills to help them behave properly in society.

If they are not progressing as quickly as the other students, they may be required to work with special needs groups or classes until they are able to catch up. Some students may stay there permanently and graduates of ECE certificate programs can help. There are some specific classes one might expect to take in any ECE certificate program.

Language and literacy are the cornerstones of all education curriculum throughout early childhood education. As an ECE certificate program participant, you will learn the best ways to work with students at varying degrees of development, you can even earn special needs teaching certification. You will be taught ways to introduce linguistic and phonological skills to help those students who are falling behind, and as a way to help teach the structure of stories, you can receive specialized training in speech pathology for those students who need special help with this. These skills are essential in the development of thinking abilities in children and problem-solving techniques.

Math is also of critical importance for children to be able to function as adults. Whether or not math is a strong suit for you, this type of certificate program will teach you the skills required to incorporate math lessons into everyday life so that children learn without realizing they are doing so. You might learn games to play or ways to use daily activities to teach math skills. You will be tested on basic math skills to ensure you have enough of a basis to teach kids.

You will also be required to teach or assist with basic science lessons. You will learn the best ways to present science lessons to students so that it is not overly complex and easily digestible. The simple introduction to sciences is an important aspect of comprehending the subject. This could be to introduce food from other countries or items from the sea. Early childhood educators teach students to study their surroundings and draw conclusions.

Additional courses might include classroom behavior management, child growth and development, family and community, art and music, general teaching techniques, and much more.

Certification vs Associate’s

It is important to note a significant difference exists between a certificate and an associate’s degree in early childhood education. Certificate programs are designed to provide educational focus and additional training within specific fields. To be accepted into such programs, applicants are often required to have several years of relevant work experience or have some previous education in the field, such as a teacher receiving a certificate for special needs teaching after leading a classroom for several years.

Most certificate programs take two semesters or one year to complete. If you have a full-time job or if you care for children at home, it may take longer. And you may have to take a final exam to complete the certificate. Certificate requirements will vary from state to state, and you’ll likely still have to complete a state teaching license to be able to teach in a public school.

Associate’s degree programs will admit most high school graduates or their equivalent. The programs do not require work experience or any higher education completion. Many people pursue a certificate after they start or complete an associate degree and before pursuing a bachelor’s degree as a way to specialize earlier in their career. This will allow program participants to apply for entry-level jobs in ECE, usually assistant teaching positions.

An associate’s degree typically takes two years to complete as a full-time student. You can expect to take many general courses with some courses in your preferred specialization. If you do intend to pursue higher degrees after an associate’s degree or a certificate program, make sure your program is accredited and that credits are transferable to save yourself time and money in the end. It is also important to note that if you complete a certificate while simultaneously completing a degree program, you can pursue ECE work experience while you complete your degree and negotiate higher pay.

Skills & Attributes You Will Learn

A certificate program in early childhood education will teach you the skills and attributes you require to be successful and to effectively teach children in return. The following are some of the essential skills and attributes you will learn in your early childhood education certificate program:

  • Adaptability and flexibility are highly regarded in teaching today. All children do not learn the same way, nor do they learn at the same speed. Early childhood education professionals must be able to adapt lesson plans to cater to the ways in which students learn best. They must also be flexible in their strategies and approaches to reach each student rather than just a few.

  • Passion and creativity go hand-in-hand throughout ECE. Most program participants already inherently have a passion for teaching and a love of being around children. These natural attributes easily lead to the ability to be creative in the classroom. Creativity is far more likely to keep kids enthusiastic and energetic about learning activities than most other teaching methods. This helps to increase participation and engagement, and it will result in an overall positive experience.

  • Compassion is another vital attribute for professionals in early childhood education. These professionals must be compassionate toward the home lives from which many children originate. Some children are born with greater advantages than others and some face family tragedy at far too young an age. ECE professionals must be compassionate to all circumstances to help students overcome emotional and physical obstacles in life outside and inside the classroom.

  • Excellent communication is another essential piece of the skills and attributes puzzle. You will learn the best ways to communicate with people from all walks of life. It is imperative that you are able to communicate with the child by both speaking to and listening to your young students. You must also be able to communicate with parents, bosses, and even potential investors if you work in a private school setting. The best ECE professionals have open communication with everyone involved in making the educational experience of students an exceptional one.

Learn More About Teaching Certification in Your State

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What to Expect with an ECE Certification?

With an ECE certificate, you can expect to have a highly rewarding career with children. Whether your work with toddlers, elementary kids, or children with special needs, you will not be without challenges, too. You can expect to incorporate playtime throughout your day as a way to teach lessons in a fun and engaging manner. You will also help to teach developmental skills that assist with personal, physical, and language development. All employers will expect that you are able to leave your personal issues at home. It is imperative that you are able to remain calm and rational, and act with the highest decorum at all times as these years will influence the way children view education for the duration of their career.

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