Why Get Certified 

The Early Educator Certification (EEC) process was developed by and for early educators who guide the implementation of EEC in North Carolina.

Use EEC to Apply for Employment

Your EEC certificate provides you and employers with a point-of-hire document. Note: while EEC is a voluntary system, employers may require their staff to hold or become and maintain their Early Educator Certification.

Use EEC for Facility License Education Points

EEC is a teacher education equivalency in DCDEE rule. That means an EEC level can be used by the regulatory consultant as a verified form of education documentation during site visits.  The DCDEE Workforce Unit can use the EEC level for individuals applying to be a Lead Teacher, Teacher, Family Child Care Home Provider and/or Program Coordinator.  The updated Star Rating charts show how EEC can be used to calculate teacher education points for the positions above.

EEC levels for all certified early educators are sent to DCDEE electronically each month so you do not need to send transcripts to DCDEE too. However, you do need to submit a copy of your EEC certificate or letter to the Workforce Unit to ensure your EEC level is recognized by DCDEE.

Use EEC to Save Time & Money Purchasing & Sharing Transcripts

One stamp, many uses, cost savings! Once an early educator is certified, she/he need only to submit updated transcripts for new college courses and degrees to EEC to have their education level updated by EEC, WAGE$ and DCDEE.

  • DCDEE may use your EEC level for facility licensure purposes to assess for education requirements.  Transcripts do not need to be sent to DCDEE once you are certified. Contact the EEC office or DCDEE Workforce Unit (919-527-6500) for more information.
  • The Child Care WAGE$® Project can use an EEC level to award salary supplements, if the county where the early educator is employed participates in WAGE$.
  • T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® (T.E.A.C.H.) Project, upon request by certified early educators, can also use a certification level and education updates for scholarship purposes.

Get Professional Recognition

Certified early educators receive professional recognition with a frame-ready certificate and wallet-sized card with their certification level.  This helps parents, employers, friends, neighbors and more understand the importance of the work you do and the education you have earned.

Access Benefits & Discounted Goods & Services

Through EEC Rewards & Benefits, certified early educators can access free training offered by the Institute. You can save on early learning supplies and equipment, movie tickets, phones, food, technology and more!  You can access low-cost banking services, insurance options and work-life resources!  All are available online with your EEC ID number here.

Early Educator Certification (EEC) is About You

“I am so proud to have this certification and plan to take additional courses.” – Group Leader

Early Educator Certification provides…

  • You with a certificate to demonstrate your certification level.
  • You with access discounts on goods and services for certified Early Educators.
  • Our field with professional recognition like other professions.
  • Employers with point of hire documentation, reducing their costs and increasing the time they can spend operating their business and working with families, teachers and children.
  • Families with a tool to tell them about the education of who is working with their child.
  • Programs with a marketing strategy for advertising that their program is staffed with with certified teachers.

History of NC Early Educator Certification 

The NC Early Educator Certification system was developed in response to interests by the field in developing an individually-held, portable form of certification that would mirror professional certifications of other fields and serve as a step in the career pathway for NC early educators working directly with or on the behalf of children ages birth to twelve in out of home settings.

As a result, the field and state would realize cost efficiencies as EEC became the entry point for all those working directly with young children in regulated settings, on the behalf of children in support or education roles or intending to work in NC with the birth to twelve population in out of home settings — regardless of role, place of employment or geographic location.

Members of the Institute developed the EEC process following research supported by private dollars to inform the members about processes used by other professions that certify their workforce and build an individually held, portable, field-wide professional certification issued for a minimal fee.

The resulting copyrighted education verification process, using the Early Care and Education (ECE) Scale, was piloted in 2008 over a two-year period.  Support from DCDEE allowed early educators to pilot the field-held process at no charge and seek efficiencies in education verification processes, provide benefits, professionalize the field and more.

In 2010, the School Age Professional Scale was developed providing those working with children in before and after-school care programs with a professional certification. The ECE scale was expanded to include additional levels, reflective of the many steps early educators take when pursuing a college education. The law put in place in 2010 requiring certification was allowed to sunset in 2011.

In 2011, EEC levels were added to child care facility licensure policy to support the thousands of early educators who hold an EEC level to use it as an equivalent for teacher education verification for child care facility licensure purposes and to support a portable form of education verification for use by DCDEE regulatory consultants and for hiring — saving time and money.

Also in 2011, EEC was coupled with access to a password protected online portal of work-life as well as personal and professional benefits for certified early educators.

In the same year, the first of endorsements for certified early educators to demonstrate specific knowledge and skills by role and support the expansion of career pathways was developed for professional development practitioners.

In 2012, an Administrators Endorsement was released followed by a Technical Assistance Practitioner Endorsement in early 2014 developed by early educators over a 6-month process.

As of May 2014, EEC levels are held by nearly half the birth to five teaching workforce in North Carolina.

Certified Professionals in NC

In addition, more than 350 early educators hold one of more endorsements, providing consumers of these services with a quality indicator.


How to Apply for Early Educator Certification

The simple, fee-based EEC Application process includes the submission of an application and official transcripts. EEC does not require a test or specific college course.

Step 1: Choose which scale you want to be certified (or apply for both)

Step 2: Order your official transcripts if you have completed college coursework.

Step 3: Complete the application. Please double check your email address as this is where you will receive application information and updates.

Step 4: Attach the fee to your application and send to the Institute.

Step 5: Watch for an email with your EEC ID so you can begin using EEC Rewards.

Education Base

College education earned is the basis for EEC.

To be counted for EEC, coursework must have been taken at regionally accredited college(s) and/or university(ies)All public community colleges and universities in North Carolina are regionally accredited. 

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

Application & Forms

  • EEC Application
  • EEC Request Form: This form is only used to update an active certificate.  To renew your EEC, submit the EEC application.
  • EEC Internet Transcript Permission Form– The EEC Internet Permission Form (IPF) allows EEC staff to download your transcript using your login from a college or university website, if available. The IPF does not give us permission to request an official transcript from your college or university for you.

Renewal Information

Renewal is required every three or five years, based on an individual’s education. 

To apply for renewal, submit an updated EEC Application and fee.  Those certified at temporary levels (levels 4 or 8 with less than 6 focused credits) are required to submit updated official transcripts to renew.  The submission of an updated official transcript is optional for all other applicants.

* While continuing education is only required at specific educational assessments, to keep your EEC valid you must submit the EEC application and fee to renew.

* The renewal process is the same for those who apply prior to expiration and those who apply after their certificate expires. 

Educational Reassessment

Individuals who complete college credit coursework at a nationally recognized regionally accredited college or university may choose to have their education reassessed. A level can be reassessed two ways:

  • Submit official transcripts at the time of renewal with the application and $25 fee.
  • Submit official transcripts at any time prior to renewal along with the EEC Request Form and $10 fee. Renewal dates are not updated when levels are reassessed out of cycle.

Updating or increasing a level is voluntary for all individuals certified at levels other than 4 or 8. See the EEC Scales for more information about each level.

What college credit courses count as birth to five or schoolage coursework?

Because courses are different from one college to another, we do not have a general list of courses that count as focused for EEC.  However, the North Carolina Community Colleges have a common course catalog that is uniform across all community colleges. Click here for the list of current NC Community College education courses and how they are counted for Early Educator Certification.

Individuals certified at levels 4 or 8 that are required to take more coursework for renewal should review theses courses before enrolling in courses to meet their renewal requirements.


For more information about EEC contact staff at info@ncicdp.org or call 919-942-7442.

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