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Online Child Care Certificate and Diploma Program Information

Get info about online diploma and certificate programs in child care. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Online diploma and certificate programs are available in child care as hybrid and online-only programs. Diploma options can usually be completed in one semester and prepare students for immediate entry-level work as a child care provider. These programs might cover child development, classroom safety and early childhood education. They don't ready students to apply for the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, since on-site child care experience and further instruction are required.

Online certificate child care programs include more advanced study and take up to one year to finish. Students enroll in a wider breadth of courses in topics like child psychology, ethics, child care strategies and parenting. Although classes are available online, internship and cooperative education experiences are usually required on site. These certificate programs can prepare students to apply for the CDA credential if they have completed experience requirements along with the coursework.

Child Care Diploma

Online child care diploma programs are designed for individuals who want to work with children in a public or private daycare center, school or home environment. A diploma program is well-suited for students who are interested in quickly assuming an entry-level position in the child care field. Participants gain the knowledge and skills to effectively supervise children in a short amount of time. Topics include the emotional, physical and social needs of children from birth to six years of age.

Program Information and Requirements

The majority of online child care diploma programs require students to complete approximately nine credit-hours to earn a diploma. Programs generally require applicants to hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. Students do not need prior experience to enter a program. Classes can be taken through self-guided distance-learning (with textbooks) or via online courses with all content hosted on the Web.

Course Topics

Courses are designed to give students a broad overview of child development topics. Sample courses for this field are described below.

Developmental Study of Infants and Toddlers

This course provides students with an overview of infant and toddler growth and maturation. Areas covered include children's social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. Tips and guidelines for working with children and their families are covered.

Developmental Study of Preschoolers

Students learn the cognitive, social, emotional and physical development of preschool-aged children (typically ages 3-6). Developmental theories and research findings are discussed. Students also learn strategies and techniques for engaging, encouraging and managing preschoolers.

Child Safety

This course covers all areas of child safety, including first aid, fire strategies and emergency management. It also teaches course participants how to care for sick children while reducing the potential spread of illnesses.


Child Care Certificate

An online child care certificate program provides students with extensive training in child development, health, safety, nutrition and behavior management. Many public child care institutes, local governments and private guardians require child care providers have a certificate from an accredited school. Certificates offer employers and parents some assurance that holders are trained and prepared to work with children.

Program Information and Requirements

Online child care certificate programs require anywhere from 6-12 months to complete. Classes are conducted using various media, including traditional textbooks and interactive media elements on the Internet. Students interested in attending on online child care certificate program must have a high school diploma or GED certificate.

Course Topics

Courses provide students with in-depth training on child development topics while also providing real-world examples for managing children. Common courses for this field are described below.

Introduction to Early Childhood Education

This course covers historical and psychological theories pertaining to newborns through age six. Cognitive and behavioral development is reviewed, along with the impact made by early childhood educators.

Child Nutrition

Students learn how nutrition impacts the health and growth of children. The class provides nutrition guidelines and suggestions for fostering positive eating habits.

Engaging Children of Various Ages

Infants have vastly different developmental needs than toddlers and older kids. This course reviews the various social, physical and emotional needs for children of all ages. Students develop activity ideas and lesson plans to engage learners at each stage.


Career Information

Graduates with a child care diploma can find work as child care assistants in daycare centers or schools. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median wage for child care workers was $9.77 per hour as of May 2015. Employment opportunities are expected to grow by 5% between 2014 and 2024. This number is on par with the national average for all jobs (www.bls.gov).

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for child care workers was $20,320 as of May 2015. Wages vary by workplace establishment and employees' level of education. Typically, the more education a child care provider has, the higher the salary.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Those with a diploma in child care may want to consider pursuing further education if they are interested in obtaining their Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Diploma programs do not qualify students to apply for the CDA credential, which requires 120 hours of formal instruction. Most diploma course credits can be applied toward a child care certificate program.

Graduates of an online child care certificate program are eligible for the CDA credential from the Council for Professional Recognition. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have completed at least 120 hours of formal child care education and completed 480 hours of experience working with children. With proper state licensing, certificate-holders can also open a daycare center in their own home. Many online child care certificate program courses can be applied to an associate's or bachelor's degree program for early childhood education, which prepares enrollees to teach at elementary schools.

Students can earn fully online or hybrid child care certificates or diploma programs that focus on courses such as childhood nutrition and early childhood education. Some programs require students complete hands-on training in order to meet credential requirements.

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