What Can You Do With an Early Childhood Education Certificate? Exploring Your Options

preschool girl working with teacher

The value of education is definitely not lost on someone like you—that’s why you want to dedicate your career to nurture a love of learning in children’s lives. But the higher education you may need to make your career dreams a reality isn’t always convenient.

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 in which you can begin advancing your education now! In fact, you can earn an early childhood education (ECE) certificate in as few as nine months.1

ECE certification by itself can open quite a few doors to the kind of workplace you dream about. If your ambitions take you further down the road in education, then the valuable experience you gain as an ECE-certified professional can be a resume-boosting bonus. Take a look at the list below to learn about the realm of jobs with an early childhood education certificate.

5 Roles you can put an ECE certificate to use in

It’s true that obtaining an ECE certificate can open doors to a handful of rewarding careers in education. Learn more about the paths you could pursue with this credential.

1. Preschool teacher

“Preschool teacher is one of the most common job titles for ECE Certificate graduates,” says Lauren Pierre, assistant professor of Early Childhood Education at Rasmussen University. Preschool teachers can work in a wide variety of work settings and school-types, allowing plenty of options for teachers interested in a specific location, specialization or demographic.

Preschool teachers plan and employ a curriculum that targets different areas of child development. They organize stimulating activities, create schedules, keep an eye on their students’ development and communicate with families about their students’ progress.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) emphasizes that young children learn from playing, problem solving, questioning and experimenting.2 So preschool teachers often use play and storytelling to teach children about the world.

2. Teaching assistant

“A lesser-known career option for ECE certificate holders is to become assistant teacher,” Pierre says. Some teaching assistant positions require an associate degree, but many seek out a minimum requirement of an ECE certificate. Teaching assistants work under the supervision of the classroom’s teacher completing various 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.

3. Childcare worker

This title covers a broad spectrum of job opportunities. Their work involves caring for children who are preschool-aged or younger. These ECE professionals 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.

4. Tutor

You might be thinking, wait, kids need tutors at the early childhood education level?

In short, yes!

Whether through special circumstances or just regular early 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 in-home teachers and tutors to visit homes and 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.

5. Personal care aide

While most ECE certificate jobs are connected to schooling, this career lands a little more in the medical world. 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 have special needs. An ECE certification can give you the qualification you need to join their ranks.

PCAs often work in residential settings, going into a family’s home to provide basic care for a child when their parents are busy or 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 administering necessary medications, 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.

“I have seen many students use the Certificate program as a building block in their educational plan,” Pierre says. 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 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 Certificate program, they are already part of the way through a CDA credential as well.

After you hold your ECE certificate, a few more steps to finish the CDA requirements can really bolster your resume.

Your job with early childhood certification

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 development or ability? Working as a PCA or finding preschools that cater to children with special needs could put you right inside your dream job.

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.

1Completion time is dependent on number of transfer credits accepted and the number of courses completed each term.
2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [information accessed May 6, 2019] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and include workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
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 2019.

About the author

Brianna Flavin

Brianna is a senior content manager who writes student-focused articles for Rasmussen University. She holds an MFA in poetry and worked as an English Professor before diving into the world of online content. 

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