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Earning Your CDA/Certificate/AA Degree in ECE

Earning Your CDA/Certificate/AA Degree in ECE

Course work in Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs combines theory and practical experience for work with young children and their families. Courses include child development, child behavior and guidance, children with special needs, planning early childhood learning environments, ECE curriculum, and working with parents. Practicum courses provide opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge to planning and presenting curriculum, and for working with children and staff in early childhood centers.

If you plan to transfer and earn a four-year degree in Early Childhood Education, make an early decision on your transfer school and work closely with an advisor to determine appropriate course work.

Students should analyze programs for their differences as well as similarities before choosing a specific option. It is also recommended that you speak with an Early Childhood Education Counselor to help plan your academic career.

Entrance Requirements and Prerequisites

College Admissions may require:

  • A high school diploma or GED equivalent in the U.S.
  • Test requirements: Writing and reading comprehension components of the college admissions test and the math placement test.
  • Qualifying COMPASS or ASSET placement tests.
  • Ability to pass the Washington State Patrol Criminal Background Check prior to internship.

Career Opportunities
A variety of childcare, preschool, school district, recreational, and community programs offer career opportunities in early childhood education. Also, opportunities are increasing for family support paraprofessionals in human service and mental health agencies. With additional experience, training, and education, graduates can pursue a variety of career pathways in education and administration.

The demand for trained early childhood educators is increasing and should remain strong over the next several years.

Program Outcomes

Graduates of Early Childhood Careers programs will be able to:

  • Create and consistently maintain a safe, healthy learning environment.
  • Recognize, articulate, and implement health and safety standards and procedures.
  • Identify ways to meet each child's individual needs and ways to plan culturally relevant activities to nurture cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of child development from a multi-cultural perspective from birth to age eight.
  • Identify ways to build partnerships with families and ways to share information, resources, and referrals.
  • Prepare and establish culturally relevant learning environments that support each child's individual skills and interests.
  • Develop and implement culturally relevant curriculum by observing, documenting, and assessing individual and group needs and skills.

The following information includes program information and certificate/degree programs at the technical and community colleges within Washington State.

College ECE Program Information

The following certificates and degrees are general courses of study within the ECE field available at 2-year colleges in Washington State.

CDA Credential = The Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential is a nationally recognized credential awarded to individuals who have demonstrated competency through both experience and education in working with young children ages 0-5.  The CDA Credential is awarded to infant/toddler child care teachers, preschool teachers or family child care providers.

ECE Certificate = The Early Child Education (ECE) Certificate is a 45-64 credit certificate program designed to meet Washington State requirements to become a program coordinator for a licensed child care center, teacher or teacher assistant in an early childhood classroom. Some colleges offer mini-ECE certificates that range from 10-30 credits.

AA Degree = The Associate in Arts degree represents the broad knowledge generally acquired in the first two years of a four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree. When you have earned the AA, you may transfer to a baccalaureate institution within the state of Washington with assurance that you have satisfied all or most of the basic requirements (General University Requirements/Distribution Requirements). This means, generally, that AA transfer students can begin work on their specialized, major-area course-work as soon as they transfer.

ATA/AAS Degree = The Associate in Technical Arts (ATA) or AAS Degree is designed to provide entry into a technical or semi-professional occupation or additional training for those students who wish to complete a program with a specific professional-technical career objective. These degree options differ from a certificate program in that they combine a specific job skill component with a breadth component. In general, an ATA or AAS program is designed to be a terminal degree, and is not meant to transfer to a 4-year college or university.

AAS-T Degree = The Associate of Applied Science-Technical degree in early childhood education is a two-year technical degree that prepares students for immediate employment and leaves the door open for the possibility of transfer to specific four-year institutions that have agreed to accept this type of degree. The AAS-T is a relatively new degree model that was approved by the Washington Association of Community and Technical College Presidents in March 2002.  A typical course of study for an AAS-T degree in ECE might include 45-55 credits in ECE and 35 to 45 credits in general education.

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