Home > Certification, Endorsements, & Licensure

Professional Recognition

In North Carolina, over 44,000 individuals compose the early care and education and school age workforce.

This vibrant industry generates over $1.7 billion annually, creates jobs that stay in our state, enables families to work, seek employment and attain a college education. The availability of quality child care also enables employers to attract and retain employees and lays the foundation for children to succeed and our state’s economy to thrive.

Three forms of professional recognition for the workforce — individual certification, endorsements for certified early educator by role, and teacher licensure. All provide consumers, employers, regulators and others with information about the level of education of those working with children in out-of-home settings.

Research has shown that teacher education levels impact child outcomes. As in many professions, education is the basis for certification and licensure. Education is defined as coursework taken at a regionally accredited college or university.


 Early Educator Certification

Early Educator Certification (EEC) is North Carolina’s certification system for the field of Early Childhood.

EEC is an acknowledgement of an individual’s verified level of educational achievement, based on a standardized scale.

EEC does not replace teacher licensure and is designed to compliment that process.

Research has shown that teacher education levels impact child outcomes. As in many professions, education is the basis for EEC. Education is defined as coursework taken at a regionally accredited college or university.

All public community colleges and universities in North Carolina are regionally accredited.

For a list of regionally accredited college and university programs go to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Certifying Body

The NC Institute for Child Development Professionals is the certifying body for early care and education and school age professionals in North Carolina.

Those eligible to be certified include all those currently working directly with, working on the behalf of or intending to work with young children in North Carolina.

Individuals who are teachers or teacher assistants in child care, pre-kindergarten and Head Start settings, school age group leaders and coordinators, family child care providers, administrators, faculty, specialists, education coordinators, trainers, consultants, researchers and more are eligible to be certified.

Effective 8/1/12: Early Educator Certification was added in rule as an additional education equivalency option for the Star Rated License. This new equivalency option may allow individuals to qualify as Lead Teacher, Teacher, Family Child Care Home Provider and/or Program Coordinator using their current EEC certificate. More information will be coming soon regarding the DCDEE process to follow when individuals determine they want to use this education option regarding facility licensure.

Renewal requirements are based on the individual’s EEC level and mirror the amount of required training mandated for individuals working in a licensed child care program.



Birth through Kindergarten Teacher Licensure

The North Carolina Birth-through-Kindergarten degree and license prepares early educators to work with young children, from birth through age 5 years, with and without disabilities, including those at-risk, and their families.The pre-service process requires coursework and student teaching/internship to qualify for a NC Educator’s Standard Professional I license issued by the NC State Board of Education.

The in-service process requires three years of induction or beginning teacher support, coupled with formal teacher evaluations, resulting in a professional development plan, leading to a North Carolina Birth-through-Kindergarten Standard Professional II license.

NC Early Intervention Infant-Toddler Personnel Certification

This certification is required for specified Children’s Developmental Services Agency (CDSA) personnel, public and private providers of special instruction services, and early intervention service coordination to children enrolled in the Infant-Toddler Program. Local oversight and supervision of contracted service personnel must be provided by the CDSA. Statewide administrative oversight is provided by the Early Intervention Branch, Women’s and Children’s Health Section, Division of Public Health.

The classifications of certificates are Infant, Toddler and Family Associate (ITFA) and Infant, Toddler and Family Specialist (ITFS). IT certification remains valid until the individual is no longer employed by the IT Program or contracted provider agencies, or allows the certificate to lapse. Infant Toddler certification is not a pre-requisite for employment.

All Individuals pursuing an initial certificate must earn all the required credits within a three (3) year period, including individuals working part-time.

Applicants with valid and current NC Birth through Kindergarten (BK) licensure automatically meet competency requirements. However, applicants must submit the Observation of Applicant Practice (Page II-3) and a copy of their valid NC license and transcript with their application to the Reviewer.

Registered Nurses with a valid and current NC nursing license, whether they have completed a two-, three-, or four-year educational program, are eligible for the ITFS Certificate.

© 2010 NC Institute for Child Development Professionals, PO Box 959, Chapel Hill, NC 27514 dtorrence@ncicdp.org