An early childhood development certificate will generally qualify you to work with young children during the earliest developmental stages of their lives, usually between birth and age three. In order to get an early childhood development certificate, you will first need to graduate from high school or earn an equivalent qualification. It is advisable, and sometimes required, that you take the certificate program concurrently with an undergraduate degree program, though this is not always required. This certificate will not qualify you to teach; you will need to earn a teaching certificate if you want to work as a teacher in a classroom.
It helps to define your career goals before you enroll in an early childhood development certificate program. This will ensure that you choose the right program and get what you need from the certification process. Be prepared to spend up to two years or more earning this certificate, as the course of study can be fairly rigorous. If possible, combine your studies with an undergraduate degree program; this will give you broader career options once you graduate and will ensure you will be able to enter the competitive job market more quickly.
Research various schools that offer early childhood development certificate programs and find the one that suits your budget and career goals. If you will be working full time while you earn the certificate, you may want to consider taking an online certificate program that will allow you more flexibility in scheduling your classes. Some online courses will allow you to work asynchronously; this means you will work on course material at your own pace within the constraints of the assignment due dates. Synchronous courses will require you to attend class at a specific time, at the same time as other students and the instructor.
Be sure to look into whether the early childhood development certificate program requires you to complete any prerequisite courses or other activities before you enroll. You may need to take other courses before you can enroll in the program, and you should be prepared to provide the school with your high school and college transcripts, if you have any. It is also a good idea to find out how much the certificate program will cost, as you may need to secure financial aid in the form of loans, grants, or scholarships in order to pay for your education. Be sure the program you choose fits your budget appropriately.