Early childhood education programs teach you the basics of working with young children, but you may wonder if there is any type of license that you need to actually work in this field. College programs prepare you for working with kids as young as preschool as well as older students up to those in third grade. When you enroll in certificate or certification programs, you can develop even stronger skills and become a better teacher. You'll find that you do not need all these certificates to find a good job.
State Teaching Certificate
The very first thing you need before you can work as an educator is your state teaching certificate. It's important that you check with your state about its requirements for getting a certificate because each state has different requirements. You usually need to show that you have a degree from an accredited college or university and that you have experience working with younger children. Many states will require that you pass a background check too; you can submit your fingerprints to a local police station and sign a form that authorizes that station to run an investigation on you.
Do you like working with children with special needs? When you have a certificate in special education, you'll have an easier time of finding jobs in this field. Special education students are those who have learning disabilities and impairments such as ADHD, autism or CF that can change the way they feel about school and make attending a traditional school more difficult. You may need to pass an exam to receive your certification or take online classes. If you take online classes, you can work on your assignments and projects while still teaching in a preschool or elementary school.
Child Development Associate
The Child Development Associate certificate, also called the CDA certificate, is available from the Council for Professional Recognition. Once you complete all the requirements of the program, you can put that certification on your resume, which may make it easier for you to find a new job. You need to take some education classes and do an observation experience, which requires watching a teacher in a classroom for a set period of time. CDA certificate holders also do fieldwork and teach classes of their own before taking a final exam to get that certification.
Child Care Professional
Another license that you might find useful is that of a Child Care Professional, which is available from the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA). You will sign up for this program and work with a field counselor. This counselor is responsible for helping you meet the requirements of the program and get your certificate. According to the NECPA website, those applying must be 18 years old or older, have good English skills and have a minimum of a high school diploma or a GED. You'll also pay $25 for an enrollment package that the organization will mail directly to your home.
As there are a number of people entering the education field each year, you need to find a way to set yourself apart from other applicants as you look for jobs. Getting a license or completing one of the top certificate programs shows that you have a commitment to early childhood education and your future students.