Early Childhood

A woman in the child development center reads a story book to small children.

Early Childhood

Subject Area: Liberal Arts and Transfer

Award: Certificate, Diploma

Minimum Credits: Certificate: 12, Diploma: 31

Location: Calmar, Peosta

Entry: Spring, Fall

Contact email: orr-dotzenrodd@nicc.edu, albersj@nicc.edu



The Early Childhood Education Certificate is comprised of four courses and can be completed in two semesters. It is intended to provide you with the latest information and skills needed for an entry-level position in a child care program. The Early Childhood Education certificate meets the requirements for clock hours of formal child care education required for the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Upon completion of the certificate program, the successful student will be able to practice appropriate guidance techniques, recognize and carry out appropriate activities and assessment for young children, maintain a healthy and safe setting, and be able to communicate effectively with children and families.

Essential skills needed for a career in the field of early childhood include the ability to maintain awareness of active children in a group setting, to demonstrate stamina while engaging in multiple tasks and activities with children, to respond quickly and appropriately to children's changing needs and to keep children safe.


Child care centers, preschools, kindergartens and child development centers offer many possibilities for employment due to the increasing recognition of the importance of early childhood training. Graduates of the Early Childhood program primarily function as assistants, teachers or directors of child care centers and preschools. Students receive preparation in the guidance and supervision of children in such activities as outdoor play, dramatic play, art, music, literature and language, science and math, health activities and field trips. Students will also develop a basic understanding of the principles of child development, safety procedures, assessment and evaluation diagnosis, communication skills and nutritional needs. Graduates will have employment opportunities nationwide.

Admissions Requirements
  1. Apply for admission.
  2. Complete ACCUPLACER® admission testing. Testing may be waived based on previous college coursework or submission of valid ACT®, ACT Compass® or ALEKS® test scores. Scores are valid for three years.
  3. Submit official high school, high school equivalency and/or college transcripts to the Admissions Office of the campus you plan to attend.

Early Childhood Education Certificate

In addition to the College admission requirements outlined, program applicants will be required to complete a criminal record/child and adult abuse registry check, a physical exam and up-to-date immunizations prior to child development center participation/field experience and completion of the program. A list of skills expected of early childhood professionals is available from counselors and advisors.

Early Childhood Diploma

In addition to the College admission requirements outlined, program applicants, prior to the Early Childhood field experience, will be required to complete a criminal record/child and adult abuse registry check, a physical exam and up-to-date immunizations. Satisfactory physical and mental health is required. All students enrolled in this program may be required to complete a drug screen prior to entrance into field experience placement with a field site. Random drug screens may also be conducted on students while enrolled in the program.

Note: A positive report on the criminal dependent adult abuse, child abuse background screening or drug screen may prevent you from being accepted for Field Experience placement and completion of the program. All screening costs are the responsibility of the student.

Academic Requirements


Minimum Credits: 12

View the printable Ed Plan.

 Term 1
ECE:103 Intro to Early Childhood Education 3.0
ECE:133 Child Health, Nutrition, and Safety 3.0
ECE:158 *Early Childhood Curriculum I (Option 1) 3.0


Term 2
ECE:221 *Infant/Toddler Care and Education (Option 1) 3.0
ECE:243 Early Childhood Guidance 3.0

*Only one Option 1 course is required


Minimum Credits: 31

View the printable Ed Plan.

Term 1
ECE:103 Intro to Early Childhood Education 3.0
ECE:133 Child Health, Nutrition, and Safety 3.0
ECE:158 Early Childhood Curriculum I 3.0
ECE:243 Early Childhood Guidance 3.0
ECE:343 Early Childhood Guidance Lab 1.0
SDV:179 The College Experience 3.0


Term 2
ECE:159 Early Childhood Curriculum II 3.0
ECE:221 Infant/Toddler Care and Education 3.0
ECE:359 ECE Curriculum II Lab 1.0
ECE:920 Field Experience/ECE 2.0
PSY:222 Child Psychology 3.0
* Communication Elective 3.0


Communication Electives: COM:723, ENG:105, ENG:106

Note: A First Aid/CPR course that includes infant, child and adult CPR must be successfully completed prior to beginning ECE:920 and may be taken through NICC Business and Community Solutions. Students enrolled in the Early Childhood program must pass all required course work with a minimum of a C- grade. However, a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA (C grade average) is required to graduate from the program and the College.  Students not receiving a minimum of a C- grade in the prerequisite courses for ECE:920 will not be allowed into Field Experience.      

Employment Information

With an annual income range of $16,660 - $27,643 and a projected growth of 18%, the career outlook for Early Childhood graduates is outstanding.

Salary Source: Institutional Effectiveness; Salary range represents 10th-90th percentile earnings for related occupations in the NICC district. Growth rate based on projections from 2010-2020.

View Gainful Employment information for this program.

Employers of NICC Alumni

Early Learners, Dubuque, IA
Finley Daycare, Dubuque, IA
Frog Hollow, Dubuque, IA
Grandview Intergenerational Center, Dubuque, IA
Grandview Preschool, Dubuque, IA
Hippity Hop Preschool, West Union, IA
Kessel Kids Child Care Center, Cresco, IA
Kid Project, Dyserville, IA
Kinderwood, Edgewood, IA
Little Husky Learning Center, Oelwein, IA
Little Rascals, Dubuque, IA
Mercy Child Development Center, Dubuque, IA
Montessori School, Cedar Falls, IA
NICAA Head Start, East Dubuque, IL
NICC Child Development Center, Peosta, IA
Northeast Iowa Community Action, Decorah and Oelwein, IA
South Winneshiek Elementary/Middle School, Ossian, IA
St. Joe's Early Childhood Center, Key West, IA
St. Joseph's the Worker Early Childhood, Dubuque, IA
St. Joseph's Daycare, Earlville, IA
Waukon Elementary, Waukon, IA
West Union Elementary, West Union, IA
YMCA, Dubuque, IA

Sample Job Titles

Assistant Teacher
Center Manager
Head Start Center Manager
Para. Co-teacher
Teacher/Family Service Worker
Teaching Assistant

For additional job titles, visit O-Net.

Transfer Information

Northeast Iowa Community College maintains articulation agreements with many area colleges and universities. The Early Childhood program has an official articulation in place with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.


Todd Ecklund
Dean of Business and Computer Science
800.728.7367, ext 208

Nicole Jansen
Early Childhood Instructor
800.728.2256, ext. 470

Julee Albers, M.S.
Early Childhood Instructor
800.728.7367, ext. 309