Credentials and Certificates

Father reading to baby

Various credentials and certificates can be earned by professionals in the youth and early childhood education field. The Office of Child Care (OCC) and the Utah Registry for Professional Development (URPD) aim to recognize those that fulfill the requirements of these credentials and certificates and advance their career in the field through the professional development system.

Scholarships and Financial Support

OCC and URPD provide financial support for several credentials and certificates within the youth and early childhood education field. Please visit the Scholarships and Financial Support page for more details.


Demonstrated Competency Credentials and Certificates

To meet the requirements for Career Ladder Level 4, professionals must submit documentation of one of the six demonstrated competency options listed below to URPD. All of the options expire, and new documentation must be submitted prior to expiration in order to maintain a current Level 4 demonstrated competency.

Child Development Associate Credential

Father reading to babyThe Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education (ECE) and is a key stepping stone on the path to career advancement in ECE. The CDA is issued by the Council for Professional Recognition and is nationally recognized. The CDA Credential is built around a core set of competency standards, which direct professionals as they further develop knowledge and skills in best practices for teaching young children. For more information on this credential, please view our CDA Credential Information Sheet.

Need assistance?

OCC and Care About Childcare (CAC) provide professionals with assistance for earning a CDA Credential by offering advising, portfolio consultation and free or affordable training courses. Please contact your regional CAC agency for more information. 


Certified Childcare Professional Credential

Certified Childcare Professional CredentialA Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) Credential is issued by National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA). It is a nationally recognized credential program developed specifically for early childhood educators. Candidates develop expertise in nine professional ability areas, which emulate the high-quality standards of early care and learning.

For more information on the CCP, please visit the NECPA website.


National Administrator’s Credential

National Administrator’s CredentialThe National Administrator’s Credential (NAC) is issued by National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA). It was developed for center directors, emerging leaders and child care professionals. The credential consists of a 45-hour in-person or online course and is awarded for demonstrated mastery of child care administration skills.

For more information on the NAC, please visit the NECPA website.

Additional Requirements

To earn a demonstrated competency for Career Ladder 4 with a NAC, two additional requirements are necessary.

  1. Completion of Career Ladder approved courses in the following four subject areas, totaling 60 hours:
    • 30 hours in Child Development
    • 10 hours in Safe, Healthy Learning Environment
    • 10 hours in Physical and Intellectual Development
    • 10 hours in Social and Emotional Development
  2. A passing score on an observation by an approved URPD observer or a Professional Development (PD) Specialist listed with the Council for Professional Recognition.

For more information, please view the Observation Information Tool and the URPD Observation Contact List. If you are interested in becoming a URPD Approved Observer, please view the application. To apply for an observation scholarship, please complete the Observation Scholarship Payment Request Form.


Career and Technical Education High School Skills Certificate

Career and Technical Education High School Skills CertificateThe Utah State Board of Education provides high school students with the opportunity to earn skills certificates measured by core standards and competencies essential to be successful in various careers. Professionals that earn the Early Childhood Education 1A and 1B or the Early Childhood Education 2 Skills Certificates work with children in a professional lab setting and demonstrate knowledge of the course standards on state assessments.

Note: For Career Ladder purposes, this certificate will expire three years after the issue date. A professional must complete requirements for a different demonstrated competency to maintain a current Career Ladder Level 4.


Practicum or Student Teaching Course

Certified Childcare Professional CredentialMany college programs offer practicum and student teaching courses that provide students with the opportunity to intern in a classroom setting. Professionals may complete an early childhood (or elementary, if working with school-age children) practicum or student teaching course at an accredited college or university to meet demonstrated competency requirements. The practicum must be passed with a letter grade of C- or better.

For more information on college programs in Utah, please visit the Higher Education Opportunities page.  


Utah School-Age Credential

Utah School-Age CredentialThe School-Age Credential is issued by the Utah Afterschool Network. The credential is based on the National Afterschool Association Core Knowledge and Competencies and includes training, self-assessment, reflection and observation components.

For more information, please visit the Utah Afterschool Network website.


Other Credentials and Certificates

Aim4Excellence National Director Credential

Utah School-Age CredentialAim4Excellence is an online national director credential for early childhood administrators. The nine self-paced modules focus on essential knowledge and skills leaders need to deliver high-quality programming for young children.

For more information, please visit the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership website.


Career Ladder Policies

For more detailed information on demonstrated competency requirements, please review the Career Ladder System Policy.

Contact Us

For questions, please contact your regional Care About Childcare agency or the Utah Registry for Professional Development.