Early Childhood Educator Certification

By 2023, Nova Scotia will take the first step toward professional recognition by introducing a regulated certification process for ECEs in the province.
We will define competencies and scope of practice for ECEs and introduce new certification categories for ECE assistants and advanced practitioners in early childhood education.

What other professions are certified?

Other types of professions that use certification include counselling, nursing, speech language pathology, social work and many others.

I understand my role may change if I decide not to get my diploma but what about my pay?

ECE’s who work in regulated child care will continue to receive their wages based on the pay scale which is currently $15 per hour for a Level 1, $17 per hour for a Level 2, and $19 per hour for a Level 3.

We expect those rates to change once the work on the compensation framework is complete.

If your scope of practice changes due to your decision to not get a diploma and you do not work in a unionized workplace, please discuss the impact on your pay with your employer. If your terms and conditions of employment are governed by a collective agreement, the employers will have discussions with the relevant unions on the impact of this on pay.

Will I lose my job if I decide not to get my diploma?

No, you will not lose your job if you decide not to get your diploma. However, once we move to a certification model, your scope of practice could change depending on the role you are in now and your academic credentials and experience.

For example, if you hold a Level 1, you will become an ECE Assistant which means you will be supporting a lead educator in a classroom setting, not co-teaching or leading the teaching in a classroom. That is why it is important that you speak with career navigators to understand your current and future options.

What will the certification designations be?

We know that the certification system will focus on the Early Childhood Educator (ECE) and include a new role called Early Childhood Educator Assistant (ECEA). The ECEA (which is the current Level 1 classification) will have a specific scope of practice, competencies and skillset that are designed to support ECEs with a post-secondary diploma or degree in ECE.

EECD will be working with an external consultant to develop the full ECE certification system, including standards, scope of practice and required knowledge/skillset for each role in the model.

I’m an employer. How will this impact me?

ECEs and operators will be kept informed and have lots of opportunities to give advice and ask questions along the way. EECD will work with operators to ensure that they can maintain their staffing complements and support all employees during the transition to the new model of certification.

How many early learning and child care programs are unionized in NS?

There are 15 unionized licensed child care centres across the province and several ECEs working in Pre-primary also belong to a union.

Will ECEs and ECEAs be required to complete post-secondary training and a full certification process to be recognized as trained?

EECD will work closely with our post-secondary ECE training institutions to ensure that the programs of study for ECEs and ECEAs are closely aligned with the certification process and that certificate, diploma and degree programs are easily recognized and relevant to the certification process.

What do these changes mean to my collective agreement?

Your union will continue to negotiate your collective agreement on your behalf with your employer. As this process unfolds, we will communicate with you, stakeholders and partners so that everyone is aware of the timelines and details of this work. There will also be opportunities for engagement with key stakeholder and partners throughout this process.

I am an employer and I can’t find trained ECEs. Can I still hire people who are untrained?

Like the current process, there will be an option for employers who have difficulty finding trained staff to request a temporary staffing plan that enables them to hire someone who is in the process of completing training.

There will continue to be full-time and part-time options to engage in ECEA training and to earn a degree or a diploma in early childhood education as well as financial support to make it affordable.

To ensure our child care centres reflect our community, there will be designated seats for Nova Scotians who identify as Mi’kmaq/Indigenous, Black/African Nova Scotian, newcomer (permanent residents) and Acadian/francophone.

Will ECEs be compensated based on their certification?

Through the workforce development initiative, EECD will conduct a compensation review and it is anticipated that recommendations will be made for redesigning current grant structures to reflect the new system and professionalization of the field.

What is certification?

Certification is a process that allows individuals who have completed required post-secondary training to be recognized as professionals in a certain field. Certification provides assurance to employers and the public of an individual’s professional competence, commitment, and specialized skills.

I don’t want to be an ECE Assistant. What can I do?

There will be several options to work towards a diploma or degree in ECE. We want to ensure as many people as possible have diplomas in early childhood education.

As we move to a certification model with clearly defined roles/responsibilities and scope of practice for ECEs, we are giving anyone who wants to be an ECE the opportunity to do so. Another option is recognition of prior learning (RPL).

RPL provides an alternative method for individuals with work experience in the field of early childhood education to demonstrate they have the knowledge and skills required to be an ECE.

Will government be issuing proof of certification or an outside professional body?

The government will be issuing the proof of certification once the system is established.

What new opportunities will be available for me if I obtain a degree or a diploma?

Ultimately, Nova Scotia wants to be the leader in early childhood education, and in the long-term support every ECE to have a degree or a diploma. You will be the mentors and leaders in the field, with more responsibility and a higher income. There will also be opportunities for you to become advanced practitioners.

I hold a Level 1 classification. What options are available to me?

Anyone holding a Level 1 classification and currently working in early learning settings may apply for financial support until 2023 if they are interested in earning their early childhood education diploma or degree.

Will I have to have a classification and a certification?

No. All current staff with a classification will automatically move to the new certification system.