Early childhood education is a specialized area of teaching that involves instructing young children from infancy through pre-kindergarten ages. This field focuses on the developmental stages and educational needs of children using play-based curriculums. The undergraduate certificate provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of early childhood education and teaches students how to be effective school instructors and leaders. If you’ve always wanted to work with children and make a difference in somebody’s life, you should consider earning an online certificate in early childhood education today.

Types of Early Childhood Education Certificates

Early Childhood Education Certificate

One of the quickest and most affordable ways to break into early childhood education is to earn a certificate in the field. This comprehensive vocational certificate is designed for prospective teachers and faculty members who want to work with young children and help them develop important cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and creative skills. Graduates of the early childhood education certificate will be qualified to work in preschools or childcare centers and well-prepared to work toward a higher degree in education. To enroll in the early childhood education certificate, all applicants need to make sure they have the following educational requirements:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Desired score on the SAT, ACT, and/or entrance exam
  • Minimum required GPA

Like other vocational certificates, this one generally takes about six months to one year to complete. Some common courses students can expect to take include: child development, curriculum development, children’s literature, guidance and discipline, health, safety, and nutrition, exceptional children, and early childhood literacy. Online courses, lectures, assignments, and grades can be accessed on a learning management system, such as Moodle or Blackboard.

Early Childhood Education Administration Certificate

Whether you’re a first-time college student or a working professional looking to switch careers, the vocational certificate in early childhood education administration is an excellent option for prospective teachers and childcare center directors. Throughout this specialized program, students will focus on the developmental and educational needs of infants through pre-k aged children, while learning the ins and outs of managing early childhood classrooms and education programs. If you’re interested in pursuing this educational management certificate, you need to first make sure you meet the minimum educational requirements listed below:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Desired score on the SAT, ACT, and/or entrance exam
  • Minimum required GPA

The online certificate program in early childhood education generally takes about six months to one year to complete, depending on your individual course load and pace. While enrolled in this program, students will take a variety of core, general education, and elective courses to ensure a well-rounded education. Some common core courses include financial accounting, child care administration, and principles of management.

Infant & Toddler Care Certificate

The infant and toddler care certificate is a specialized program designed for people who want to look after and educate infants and toddlers in schools and childcare settings. During this program, students will learn about student involvement, observation, participation, group learning, and other instructional topics. After completing the certificate, students can enter the workforce or apply their earned credits toward an associate degree in early childhood education. Interested applicants need to have the following educational requirements to enroll in an infant and toddler care certificate:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Desired score on the SAT, ACT, and/or entrance exam
  • Minimum required GPA

The completion time for an infant and toddler care certificate varies based on a student’s course load and pace. However, this certificate usually takes anywhere from six months to one year to finish. Throughout the program, students will likely take courses in early childhood education, child development, connecting with infants and toddlers, family and community involvement, child health and safety, and culture and human diversity in education.

Early Childhood Education รณ Literacy Certificate

The pre-master’s certificate in early childhood education-literacy is a comprehensive program with a specialized focus in improving literacy through diverse instructional methods and assessments. This program is best suited for current and prospective teachers who want to improve their literacy instruction and pursue a reading teacher/literacy specialist certification in the future. To enroll in this exciting pre-master’s certificate program, applicants need to have the following educational requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Desired score on the SAT, ACT, and/or entrance exam
  • Minimum required GPA
  • Completion of prerequisite course work

Completion time for the graduate certificate in early childhood education online can take anywhere from one to two years. Students will likely take child growth and development, current research and practices in literature instruction, instructional methods/strategies for teaching diverse learners, literacy assessment and teaching, language arts, and multicultural literature for children and youth. In addition to taking core courses, students will also complete practicums and seminars toward the end of their program.

Early Childhood Education – Special Education Certificate

The early childhood education-special education certificate prepares teachers to instruct and evaluate students with special needs. Prospective special education teachers will take a combination of general and specific courses in instructing diverse learners, designing curriculums for students with severe disabilities, and managing behavior problems in the classroom. Face-to-face practicums and workshops provide additional education and professional development opportunities for students. Before you can enroll in this specialty program, make sure you have the minimum educational requirements listed below:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Desired score on the SAT, ACT, and/or entrance exam
  • Minimum required GPA
  • Completion of prerequisite course work

The completion time for an early childhood-special education pre-master’s certificate can vary based on a student’s transfer credits, course load, and pace. In general, full-time students can finish this program in one to two years. Some common courses students will likely take include: introduction to special education, child growth and development, literacy assessment and teaching, assessment in special education, severe disabilities/technology, and more.

Early Childhood Education Certificate

The online certificate program in early childhood education provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of early childhood education and prepares students for the many challenges of being an early childhood educator. Students will learn how to facilitate effective learning and curriculum practices while demonstrating professional teaching standards through interactive course work and hands-on practicums. Interested applicants need to make sure they’ve obtained the following educational requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Desired score on the SAT, ACT, and/or entrance exam
  • Minimum required GPA
  • Completion of prerequisite course work

The early childhood education certificate can take anywhere from one to two years, depending on your individual course load and pace. Some common courses students can expect to take include program planning, current issues in ECE, cognition and the young child, and ECE teaching practices. Students may also be required to complete core and general electives to ensure a well-rounded education.

Infant-Toddler Mental Health Certificate

The infant-toddler mental health certificate is a specialized program designed for early childhood education or child care professionals who want to expand their expertise in infant-toddler mental health. The graduate certificate prepares leaders to work in early intervention, behavioral health, social work, foster care, early childhood mental health consulting, speech and hearing therapy. To enroll in the infant-toddler mental health certificate program, make sure you have the educational requirements listed below:

  • Master’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Minimum required GPA
  • Desired score on the GRE
  • Completion of prerequisite courses/work experience

The graduate certificate in early childhood education online can be completed in one year, depending on your course load and pace. Some common courses students can expect to take include: infant-toddler growth and development, infant-toddler assessment, infant-toddler mental health prevention and intervention, and communication, consultation, and collaboration. Many programs also require students to complete practicums so they can gain real-work experience and put their knowledge and skills into practice.

Early Childhood Special Education Certificate

The early childhood special education certificate provides a comprehensive look at the daily challenges and rewards of teaching students with special needs. This graduate-level program is comprised of advanced course work that expands your current instructional knowledge and skills as well as interactive projects and assessments to measure your progress and professional development. Before you can apply to the early childhood special education certificate, you’ll need to have the following educational requirements:

  • Master’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Minimum required GPA
  • Desired score on the GRE
  • Completion of prerequisite courses/work experience

The early childhood special education certificate generally takes anywhere from one to two years to finish. While in school, students will take a variety of courses, including foundations of language and literacy, developmental pathways for diverse learners, family-centered assessment, introduction to early childhood special education, inclusive curriculum, and early intervention for infants and toddlers with disabilities. In addition to the specialized course work, students may also be required to complete a portfolio, field experience, and an internship throughout the program.

Early Education Research, Policy, and Practice Certificate

The early education research, policy, and practice certificate is an advanced graduate course of study that trains experienced teachers to become effective school leaders on the local level and beyond. This certificate is designed for educators who are committed to early education and care, specifically within the areas of leadership, policy, children and families, instructional practices, or research. Interested applicants will need to have the following educational requirements:

  • Master’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Minimum required GPA
  • Desired score on the GRE
  • Completion of prerequisite courses/work experience

Completion time for the early education research, policy, and practice certificate varies based on your individual program, course load, and pace. However, most full-time students complete this post-master’s certificate in one year. Students can expect to take courses in leadership and organizational change, early childhood policy, advanced child development and early learning, and translating research into practice.

What’s Next for Certificate Holders?

Graduates of the early childhood education certificate program can choose from a variety of entry-level jobs in education. Popular career choices include preschool teacher, childcare worker, teacher assistant, and preschool and childcare center director. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, all of these occupations are expected to have positive job outlooks in the coming years. By 2020, employment of preschool teachers is expected to grow 25%, childcare workers are expected to see a 20% increase, teacher assistants are projected to grow 15%, and preschool and childcare center directors could experience a 25% increase. The annual average salary for each of these professions in May 2012 was $30,750 for preschool teachers, $21,310 for childcare workers, $25,310 for teacher assistants, and $42,960 for preschool and childcare center directors.

After completing the online certification in early childhood education, graduates typically enter the workforce or return to school to pursue a higher degree. If you want to further your instructional knowledge and skills in early childhood education, then you should take the next highest educational step, earning an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Going back to school and earning a higher degree can make you a well-rounded, valuable job candidate and increase your annual earning potential.