What Can You Do With an Early Childhood Education Certificate? Exploring Your Options
By Hope Rothenberg on 09/28/2023
The value of education is definitely not lost on someone like you—that’s why you want to dedicate your career to nurturing a love of learning in children’s lives. But making space for education in your own life is easier said than done.
Familial and financial priorities can often get in the way of dedicating years to earning a degree. Life is unpredictable—in a few years’ time, you may have the flexibility to pursue your education even further. But in the meantime, there are other ways that you can begin advancing your education today.
In fact, you can earn an early childhood education (ECE) certificate in as few as 9-12 months.1 ECE certification by itself can open quite a few doors to the kind of workplace you dream about. Take a look at the list below to learn about the realm of jobs that could open with an early childhood education certificate.
4 ECE jobs to consider with an ECE certificate
Obtaining certification in early childhood education can open doors to a handful of rewarding careers in education. Learn more about the paths you could pursue with this credential.
1. Early Childhood Teacher’s Aide
This lesser-known career option for ECE certificate holders is a great way to step into education. Some early childhood teacher’s aide positions require an associate degree or early childhood education degree, but many seek out a minimum requirement of an ECE certificate.
Early childhood teacher’s aides work under the supervision of the classroom’s head early childhood teacher, completing various helpful tasks.
Some of their duties include documenting student performance in the classroom, preparing lesson materials and helping the teacher manage the classroom. Teaching assistants can also work closely with students who have special needs or students who need some extra tutoring.
2. Childcare worker
This title covers a broad spectrum of job opportunities. Their work involves caring for children who are preschool-aged or younger. Professionals with an early childhood education certificate are all over the place—in daycare and childcare centers, early learning facilities, nurseries and more. The role includes basic duties like feeding, changing and dressing children—but they also do much more than that.
Childcare workers play an important role in some of the most formative years for children.
General tasks can vary based on the employer, but they will generally include fostering a safe learning environment for the children, educating children on safety and personal health, supporting emotional and social development, and communicating with parents and other educators.
There are many childcare opportunities you can land without years of experience, whether you’re looking to contribute at an in-home daycare, an external childcare facility or a program like Head Start.
You might be thinking, wait, kids need tutors at the early education level?
In short, yes!
Whether through special circumstances or just regular early childhood development, some children need or want extra support and guidance to prepare for kindergarten. Since kindergarten is such an important year in a young child’s approach to education— experts often advise families to make sure their child enters the school years with certain building blocks in place.
Organizations like Head Start have opportunities for home visitors to help equip children with the developmental skills they will need when they enter kindergarten. Though these students are typically preschool aged, tutoring still includes teaching or creating lesson plans, developing personalized learning strategies and assessing student progress.
4. Personal care aide
While most ECE certificate jobs are connected to schooling, this career lands a little closer to the home environment. Personal care aide (PCA) is often a title you see in connection to caring for the elderly, but there is also a pressing opportunity to work with children who require assistance.
An ECE certificate, depending upon state education, background, and training requirements for PCA programs, may give you the qualification you need to join their ranks. Each state has its own PCA programs with their own requirements. An ECE Certificate might not qualify a person to become a PCA in some states, so be sure to check your local requirements.
PCAs often work in residential settings, going into a family’s home to assist when a child’s needs are too complex for parents to handle on their own.
General duties can include performing healthcare-related tasks such as bringing medications to the client, transporting clients to the doctor’s office or other locations, and preparing both the child and the family for integration into a formal educational setting.
Career advancement with ECE certification
Jobs with an early childhood education certificate are probably your main reason for pursuing the credential, but this education can pave the way for so much more—unlocking a career path you may have never considered before.
“I have seen many students use the certificate program as a building block in their educational plan,” says Lauren Pierre, assistant professor of Early Childhood Education at Rasmussen University. She explains that many students eventually continue on to ECE Associate and Bachelor degree programs to pursue career goals like managing their own childcare programs.
Knowing this possibility, Pierre points out that Rasmussen’s programs and online courses make it easy to build onto the ECE certificate with further degree options down the road.
“I am very proud of the various options students have in the ECE Certificate program. The education requirements for the CDA® (Child Development Associate) credential are infused in ECE certificate courses,” Pierre says. When students complete the ECE Certificate program they will be academically prepared to apply for the CDA credential.
After you hold your ECE certificate, a few more steps to finish the CDA requirements can really bolster your resume.
Your job with an early childhood education certificate
Now that you have a better idea of where an ECE certificate can take you—it’s time to start dreaming big. These careers only represent the baseline of the kind of work you can do.
Are you passionate about getting kids in nature, learning about the seasons and the wildlife? Preschools, childcare centers or even your own in-home childcare center could make that passion part of your career.
Do you feel drawn to children who face educational barriers in their cognitive development or ability? Finding special education preschools that cater to children with special needs could put you right inside your dream job.2
Anything you would love to teach little ones—languages, nutrition, athletics, great emotional awareness—you can build into an awesome ECE career with just a little imagination.
But it all starts with the ECE certificate. Get your journey started by heading over to the Rasmussen University Early Childhood Education Certificate page and learning more.
CDA® is a registered trademark of the Council for Professional Recognition
1Completion time is dependent on number of transfer credits accepted and the number of courses completed each term.
2The Early Childhood Education programs at Rasmussen University are not designed to meet, and do not meet, the educational requirements for licensure to teach in public preschools, or kindergarten, elementary, or secondary schools in any state.
Graduates of Early Childhood Education programs at Rasmussen University are not eligible for licensure as a teacher in an elementary or secondary school. A bachelor’s degree and a state teaching license are typically required to work as a teacher in public and private school settings.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2014. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2023.