ECE Certifications & Requirements Guide

An ECE Certifications & Requirements Degree & Career Guide

Components of Getting Certified

Each state issues teaching licenses that authorize individuals to work as teachers in public schools. Licensed teachers also work in private schools that use the license as a qualification for hiring and as an assurance to customers that students receive a high-quality education. States issue licenses to students that complete a teacher preparation program and pass state teaching exams. Teacher preparation programs are state approved college curricula. This college level education prepares students academically with courses and training labs, but it also requires hours of supervised training in practice teaching in classroom settings.

Regular Educator Certifications

- Teacher Licensure

Many states use precise teaching exams that test by subjects and by student age or education level. For example, in some states, elementary teachers have licenses to teach grades one, two, and three, while Pre-K licenses cover ages three to five. States also require training, education, and certification on specialties like special education, language development, and teaching children with disabilities.

Most states use some form of standardized teacher examinations like the PRAXIS Series. Some large population states like Florida, New York, and California use unique state-developed tests and testing procedures.

- CDA- Child Development Associate Credential

The CDA is a national credential that requires a minimum level of formal general education, a high level of early childhood education, and expertise from field experience. The Council on Professional Recognition issues the CDA through authorized training methods. The CDA requires a high school diploma, or GED; applicants must complete ten or more training hours in each of the eight CDA competency subject areas. The ten hours per subject are part of a total of 120 hours of formal early childhood education training. The applicant must perform 480 hours of field work with children in the 3-5 age range.

The CDA requires a passing score on the exam and approval from a verification visit by a Professional Development Specialist. The specialist uses react, observation, and reflection to assess the CDA applicant and report a score to the Council on Professional Recognition.

ECE Certifications and Requirements

The early childhood period runs from birth to about third grade or age eight. The early childhood is a special time in a child’s development and teaching children in this age group requires special skills, knowledge, and abilities. In Early Childhood, children are perfectly prepared to learn. They have driving curiosity and determination to understand the world around them. Early childhood educators learn ways to capture this amazing energy and prepare their students for a path of educational success. Early Childhood Education Certification is the standard used to ensure that a teacher has the training and experience needed to guide young learners.

Early Childhood Education Certification assures parents and employers that teachers understand child development, and that they have been well-prepared with quality education. Certification is an intensive process of teacher education and training. It involves teacher education programs, coursework, and observed practice teaching. Early childhood education involves more than an academic understanding of childhood development, ECE teachers must be understanding, compassionate, and respectful of human dignity.

College Level Certifications for Special-Needs Groups

Special Education is the body of knowledge that informs teaching students in ways they work with their individual differences and particular needs. The process consists of planning for the individual, and a system for monitoring teaching procedures, adapting the learning environment and using technology and equipment. Overall, the teaching must take place in an accessible learning environment that responds to the individual student’s situation. The policy was established in law in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Teachers can get special education teaching training in several educational levels.

The BS in Special Education is the widely accepted credential for special education. The Master’s Degree in Special Education prepares graduates for college-level teaching, leadership, and policy positions.

- Teaching the Talented or Gifted

In a typical teaching setting, a classroom teacher provides that attention that students need consistent with the teacher to student ratio. When students need additional attention, it may often be the students that have difficulties, cause difficulties, or that need a slower pace of learning. The least likely students to get extra attention are the gifted students. Many of tomorrows leaders and educators will likely come from the ranks of the more than three million gifted students in the US.

There are about 8,000 teachers specially trained and certified to work with talented and gifted students. Student teachers can qualify for Talented and Gifted teaching roles by attending an accredited college or university that offers a BS in Elementary Education or Early Childhood Education with a specialization in Teaching the Talented and Gifted. Some public and private school systems require a higher level of expertise than a bachelor's degree; these positions may even require a full master’s degree in Education with a concentration in teaching gifted and talented students.

- Teaching Individuals with Speech or Language Impairments

Speech or language teaching is a specialized area of study in the teacher preparation curriculum. It is also a subject area for a Master’s Degree in Education. While a bachelor’s degree with a specialization certification is enough for most public-school systems, many employers ask for a master’s degree in education with a concentration or major in speech and language developmental disabilities. Students can get certifications from the state licensing authority by passing a test specifically for or including speech impairments and language development delays.

- Teaching Individuals with Hearing Impairments and Deafness

Teaching early childhood students that have severe disabilities requires formal college-level education. Deafness training includes use of technology and machines that can improve learning. With formal education hours, students can take a state exam that will qualify them to teach children with disabilities, and specifically the combination of hearing and visual impairment. Some states differentiate by age group while other issue a certification to teach at all age levels.

- Teaching Individuals with Sight Impairments and Blindness

Teaching children with full or partial sight impairment requires knowledge and skills beyond the typical early childhood range. Nationally the effort continues to ensure that such services may be available to students in all parts of the US. Students must attend college-level programs that specialize in methods and techniques for teaching students with sight impairment.

- Teaching Individuals with Physical Impairments

Teacher preparation programs orient teachers in identifying physical impairments that interfere with development and socialization. Students can go beyond these orientation level courses to develop an undergraduate specialization. At the master’s level, students can develop an expertise in working with children with moderate to severe physical limitations.

Specialty Certifications

- CPR Certification

CPR is the short term for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. CPR is a life-saving technique that one can use in an emergency to try to restore heartbeat and breathing while waiting for medical assistance to arrive. This type of first aid can help an unconscious person whose heart and breathing have stopped. There are slightly different CPR techniques for infants and toddlers than for adults, and there is a separate procedure for babies. Parents, teachers, and any member of the public can get CPR training from a number of sources. The American Red Cross and the American Heart Association provide standards for CPR training which can add assurances of quality when the courses are AHA or Red Cross Compliant. Teachers can get training from the AHA or Red Cross, or from local instructors listed with the Red Cross, AHA, and local agencies. In most cities and towns, teachers can get certified at local fire departments, police departments, and public schools.

Some schools require that certain teachers are CPR certified or will offer a higher salary to those who are.

- Pediatric First Aid

Children’s first aid is immediate care for injuries or conditions that range from simple cuts and bruises to life-threatening emergencies. Adult first-aid must be adapted to the bodies and vulnerabilities of young children. Certification in pediatric first aid is often bundled with training in CPR and AED. Some national public interest groups offer pediatric first aid training including the Red Cross, the National Safety Council, and state government approved programs at community colleges, schools, and four-year institutions. State teacher licensing authorities and certification agencies have approved pediatric first aid courses for continuing education requirements for licensed teachers and registered certificate holders.

- Foreign Languages

Second language courses are growing in popularity in preschool and elementary education. Research supports the idea that a second language increase intelligence and lays a foundation for later language learning in English and international languages. Among US schools, there had been a growing demand for education in Spanish and French. States control teacher certification and determine what kind of certification is needed. In typical subject certification, students can demonstrate competency by passing a subject-specific examination or showing academic study (e.g., 24 credit hours in Spanish or French). Some states accept native speakers in foreign languages as proof of competence when combined with teaching certification in teachable subjects like mathematics, or science.

- AED - Automated External Defibrillator Training

Defibrillator training enables emergency first aid that stimulates a heartbeat for a person that experienced a heart stoppage. The AED is a device that transfers electric pulses to the area around the heart. The electric shocks stimulate the heart to resume beating and pumping blood needed for the brain and other parts of the body. The minutes after a heart attack or other stoppage are critical. The average time to arrival of an EMT or ambulance unit in the US is more than 12 minutes; each minute without heartbeat and circulation reduces the chances of recovery. The American Red Cross and the American Heart Association offer in-person and online instruction in the AED. Certification requirements typically need in-person instruction and certification.

- Child Abuse Identification and Reporting

Suspected child abuse reports are required by state law for ECE teachers and child care providers; ECE teachers are mandatory reporters. Two states make every person a mandatory reporter. Under the NAEYC standards, Early Childhood Educators have a duty to detect and report abuse and to work to prevent it. ECE educators are ideal positions to look for signs of child abuse by observing physical and behavioral indications, and report confirmed or suspected cases.

States offer training and certification under their laws. For example, the State of New York provides Child Abuse Identification Workshops and issues Certificates of Completion. California also has strict mandated reporter requirements that include preschool teachers, teachers, and childcare providers. Teachers and childcare providers can consult the federal government HHS, Children’s Bureau, their state laws, and state government requirements.

Summing Up

Early Childhood Educators work in many settings including university research settings, government policy-making organizations. And private sector technology and development organizations. Most critically, they work in classroom settings and in direct contact with children in the range of three to eight years of age. They have responsibilities for guiding intellectual and social growth while ensuring a physically and emotionally safe learning environment.

States license ECE teachers and can do so with a general or multi-subject license and with specific credentials for teaching selected groups, grades, subjects, and age ranges. Students may be grouped by many categories, and some typical classifications include age, mental abilities, physical readiness, and language.

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