Begin Your Career in Early Care and Education

No job is more important than caring for and educating children. That’s why OEC is dedicated to supporting Early Care and Education students — Connecticut’s next generation of teachers and child care providers. Find out more about the requirements and how to get a degree. 

Understand the requirements

To work in a licensed child care program, you’ll need to meet certain requirements. You can learn the specifics on our Licensing pages.

Keep in mind that requirements can vary not just by the kind of program but on the type of funding it receives. For example, if you want to be a teacher in a program that gets state funding, you may need to complete college degree work in early childhood education. Learn more about Qualified Staff Member (QSM) Requirements for State-Funded Programs.

These resources will help you explore the field and understand your options:

  • Explore the Early Childhood Professional Registry. This free resource has essential information and tools for aspiring providers in Connecticut. Use it to check qualifications, apply for credentials, take online trainings, and more. Read more about the Registry or visit the Registry to create an account. 
  • Learn about qualifications from the Office of Child Care. The Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance System — part of the federal Office of Child Care — has a helpful guide to the qualifications and training you might need to become a provider. Check out their guide.
  • Do you need a background check? If you want to work in a child care program — or you’re studying early childhood education in school and plan to do student teaching — you may need to get a background check. Find out more about the background check process.
  • Learn about developmental disabilities. The University of Connecticut’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) engages in innovative disability-related research, training, and technical assistance. And it also offers support and opportunities for ECE students. Explore the UCEDD website.
  • Get professional development opportunities from CEC. The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is a professional association of educators dedicated to advancing the success of children with disabilities. Learn more from the Council for Exceptional Children.
Requirements for becoming an early education teacher are evolving

Connecticut has legislation to make sure that teachers of young children in state-funded programs have college degree work in early childhood education. 

The law phases in educational benchmarks gradually, eventually leading to the goal of one Teacher with a qualifying bachelor’s degree per room or group by July 1, 2029

For full details — including the specific dates and benchmarks — see General Policy A-01, Legislative Requirements for Staff Qualifications in State-Funded Programs.

Get a degree in early childhood education

Many colleges and universities in Connecticut offer associate and bachelors degrees in early childhood education. It’s important to evaluate different programs and choose one that qualifies you for the kind of work you want to do. Some things to consider:

  • Look for ECTC-approved programs. Getting the Early Childhood Teacher’s Credential (ECTC) is one way to meet Connecticut’s QSM requirements for early childhood education teachers. A straightforward way to qualify for the ECTC is to take courses at an approved school. Learn more about the ECTC and how to meet the requirement.
  • Need help paying for your degree? The Office of Early Childhood offers scholarships to help students pay for their coursework in early childhood education. Learn how to apply. 
Thinking about starting your own child care program?

Get tips on how to do it — check out our Open a New Program page.

Last updated March 29, 2021