Educational Paths

There are different educational paths that can lead to a career in early childhood education.  ECE programs are offered at varying educational levels. Completion of a certificate, diploma or degree program can provide you with ample opportunities to start your career in the early childhood education and care sector but can also branch out into a variety of different fields and occupations.  The educational path you choose to take will vary based on your personal future career ambitions.

The most common route into the field is through a two year Early Childhood Education diploma. There are 21 colleges across Ontario that offer this type of program. In most two year diploma programs students learn about child development, curriculum and program planning, and community and family resource skills. Students also get hands on experience through mandatory student placements within child care centres and other related settings. Students who graduate from two year diploma program are eligible (and often required) to register with the College of Early Childhood Educators which is the regulatory college for ECEs in Ontario. Successful completion of a two year program in conjunction with registration with the College of Early Childhood Educators will accredit you as a Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE). The RECE title is recognized across the province of Ontario.

Students also have the option of becoming an early childhood educator while simultaneously completing a four year undergraduate degree. Four year ECE degree programs are becoming more popular due to increasing educational requirements for some of the most desired positions in the sector. With an increase in research and understanding of the earliest years of development, four year programs accommodate a scope of knowledge that is now larger than it has ever been. Successfully completing a four year program will give you a Bachelor of Arts in the study of early childhood and enable you to register with the College of Early Childhood Educators. Degree programs are the best route to take for students who wish to complete Masters programs or beyond.

Also keep in mind that if you have completed a diploma in ECE you may be eligible to apply for ‘direct-entry’ into a related degree program. Similarly, paying attention to the elective courses you choose throughout your degree may provide the opportunity to acquire a minor in a related subject and broaden your career and educational options after graduation.

For further information on Early Childhood Education programs offered in Ontario, visit the Ontario Colleges Website:


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