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Career Ladder FAQs

Applying for Career Ladder placement for the first time can seem a little daunting. You may have many questions about the process, the levels of the Career Ladder and/or the documentation required in order to complete the application process. As a result, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions regarding the Career Ladder to assist you in the application process. If you don’t see an answer to your question below, please feel free to contact our office at (800) 259-1906 or by email. Click on any of the links below to be taken directly to the answer to your specific question.


What is the Career Ladder? 

Historically, ECE has not been viewed as equal in importance to other fields of study and has not traditionally been viewed as a profession. In order to begin to professionalize the field of ECE, there needed to be a system in place to support ECE as an established professional education system. The Career Ladder is that system.

The Career Ladder is the cornerstone of the Registry’s recognition system. Through this system, individuals are placed on a pathway that recognizes his/her unique professional and educational accomplishments in ECE and years of experience working with young children (up to 4000 hours).  Through the application process, a Career Development File is established for anyone completing the Membership Application.  Because ECE professionals work at all levels of the Career Ladder, from entry level to advanced, the Career Ladder recognizes the important contributions of the entire ECE workforce, regardless of the position a person holds or their level.

Why was the Career Ladder developed the way it was?

The ladder is based on what national research shows about the importance of specialized training in ECE and the correlation between formal education and quality environments for children. The ladder views the field of Early Childhood Education as a distinct and separate body of knowledge and area of specialization.


What are the levels of the Career Ladder? 

The Career Ladder is specific to the field of ECE and consists of 7 levels representing various combinations of formal education, training and direct experience (up to 4000 hours). The entry levels of the ladder are somewhat informal and become increasingly more formal with a greater emphasis on formal education and training in ECE as a person advances along the continuum.

Early Care and Education professionals work at all levels of the Career Ladder, from entry level to advanced. The Career Ladder recognizes the important contributions of the entire ECE workforce, regardless of the position a person holds or their level. ECE professionals are: Teachers, Caregivers, Child Care Providers, Family Day Care and Group Home Providers, Educators, Administrators, Trainers, and Advocates. In other words, anyone working directly or indirectly with young children (ages birth to 8) in a variety of settings can be a part of The Nevada Registry. In fact, the ladder is designed so that anyone in the field of ECE can be placed on it regardless of whether that person has just graduated from high school and has been employed in the field for 6 months or whether the person is a college professor teaching ECE courses. The ladder is designed to promote mutual respect, cooperation, and equal importance among all roles and settings; it is a person's level of education and specialized training in ECE that determines his/her placement on the Career Ladder as opposed to his/her job title.

Why is the Career Ladder important to ECE? 

  • A specialized Career Ladder provides you with a roadmap for achieving your educational and professional goals. The Career Ladder supports you as you increase your training and education to improve the quality of care for all children. By providing a clear picture of where you are now on your career path, you’ll know exactly what is needed to advance to the next level.

  • The Ladder incorporates 8 Core Knowledge Areas that can help you make purposeful and balanced decisions about training.

  • The Ladder provides a formalized way to recognize the professional development of all ECE practitioners.

  • The Ladder helps to further professionalize the field of Early Care and Education. Professionalization requires active participation of the field and requires collaboration with family, community, government, work force, and educational systems.

  • The Ladder provides a system that will help our state track the education and training level of our child care workforce.

  • The Ladder provides a structure that can eventually be linked to wage increases and wage supplement programs.

  • The Career Ladder can also be used as a tool for staff recruitment and as a reason to increase wages and benefits for early childhood practitioners based on the attainment of higher education/higher Career Ladder levels.

How does the Career Ladder apply to me?  

Early Care and Education professionals work at all levels of the Career Ladder, from entry level to advanced. Regardless of how long you have been in the field or where you are at on your career path, your participation matters! The information provided in your application becomes our collective voice and serves as the basis for research, policy making and legislative action aimed at addressing the issues facing our field. Without you, our voice (our profession) won't be heard. 

How can Registry certificates and Career Ladder levels be used?  

  • If you are an Early Care and Education provider, you can use your Registry certificate and Career Ladder level: When applying for new employment positions, when negotiating for a salary increase, when needing to document your level of professional development and areas of expertise, and as you define your future career goals and plan for your continued professional development.

  • If you are an Early Care and Education Administrator, you might use Registry certificates and Career Ladder levels to: Recruit staff, publicize the education, training and experience of your staff so parents know that children are being cared for and educated by trained and educated practitioners, and justify wage increases for your staff based on their level and movement along the Career Ladder.

  • If you are a parent of a young child, you might use Registry certificates and Career Ladder levels to: Make informed choices about your child care options, develop an understanding of the importance of ongoing training and education in the early childhood profession, and give you a basis for expecting high quality care from highly trained and educated practitioners.

How is my Career Ladder level determined?   

Your Career Ladder level is determined by looking at your entire educational career in the field of Early Care and Education. You are placed at the highest level for which you have documented verification that you meet all of the criteria. Your level will be reassessed each year upon your annual renewal date.


How far back do I need to go?

The Nevada Registry will verify your formal education and training certificates as far back as possible. For this reason, in addition to records of your completed formal education (i.e., high school diploma, degrees, ECE college coursework, etc.) we encourage you to submit all of the training certificates you have accumulated throughout your entire ECE career. Doing so will help us warehouse your information, while at the same time, create the most complete record of your unique professional and educational background.

What about my years of experience?    

No one can discount the importance of experience when it comes to working with children and families. However, research continues to indicate that formal training is one of the major indicators of quality child care. As a result, our ladder recognizes the completion of specialized training in the field.

The Career Ladder levels are a measure of formal education gained by taking courses at the community college and/or university level and are awarded by The Nevada Registry based on either accumulated credits or degrees earned. Although the levels of the ladder do not take in to account an individual's years of service in the field, we do understand the value of long term dedication and commitment to children and families. For this reason, those years of invaluable service are recognized separately on an individual's Registry certificate along with his/her Career Ladder level. Please note that certificates show completed years of experience only. For instance, if at the time of application you have 3 years and 2 months of experience in the field, your certificate will show 3 years of self-reported experience.

Do I have to qualify at each level of the Career Ladder in order to advance to the next? 

Not necessarily. For example, if you are initially placed at Level 1.3 (15 hours of Registry-approved training or 1 ECE college credit) but then complete an additional 11 ECE credits prior to your annual renewal with the Registry, you'd bypass Level 2.1 and be placed at Level 2.2*. If you have your CDA (Level 2.1) but then complete 30 college credits with 24 in ECE prior to your annual renewal with the Registry, you would bypass Level 2.2 and 3.1 and jump to Level 3.2*. If you do not have hours of experience in the field working directly with children, but you do have a Bachelor’s degree in ECE, you could bypass Levels 1 – 4 and be placed at Level 5.1, and so on.

*Level changes are granted only when documentation is submitted to verify completion of additional training and formal education.

Do I need to submit my High School Diploma?

Proof of high school graduation is not required if you have completed 20 or more credits from an accredited college or university (i.e., Level 3.2 on the Career Ladder) and/or have obtained a degree*. In these cases, copies of your degrees and college transcripts provide the necessary documentation and will be accepted in lieu of a High School Diploma/High School Transcripts. *In other words, if you are applying for Level 1.2, 1.3, 2.1 or 2.2 (without a total of 20 college credits), you must submit a copy of your High School Diploma or GED.

How can I get a copy of my High School Diploma? 

  • If you graduated from high school after 1940, you can obtain a copy of your transcripts by contacting your high school or the school district where your high school is/was located. The Registry will also accept a signed statement on letterhead from the school or Board of Education/School District if a copy of your diploma/transcripts cannot be obtained. The letter must include the name of the graduate with the graduation date indicated.

  • If you graduated from high school prior to 1940 and are unable to obtain a copy of your diploma/transcripts as described above, a Verification of High School Diploma Form may be submitted with your Membership Application for Career Ladder Placement. This form must be signed and notarized in order to be considered complete. Incomplete forms will not be factored into your Career Ladder placement.

What if my degree is in something other than ECE?  

The Nevada Early Care and Education Career Ladder is specific to Early Childhood Education.  However, individuals with degrees in fields other than ECE may still place at their degreed level, but must submit college transcripts showing at least 30 college credits in ECE, or possess a state teaching license with an Early Childhood, Early Childhood Special Education, O-K or 0-2 Special Endorsement (view sample license) in order to do so.  Additional documentation about an individual’s academic history/educational background can be provided on the College/University Course Description Form. Please note that in order for a course to be considered ECE and/or ECE-related, there must be a direct correlation between the course content and Early Childhood (specifically ages 0-8). Further clarification of course content can be shown through statements from professors, course syllabi, research papers, etc.

What if I earned my degree in another country?

The Registry is not able to translate or determine the equivalency of transcripts and/or degrees earned at colleges/universities outside the United States. In order for coursework/degrees from other countries to be considered for Career Ladder placement, educational documents must be translated and evaluated for U.S. equivalency by an organization approved by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

Please note: Because it can be costly to have your foreign coursework/degrees translated and evaluated, you should only consider doing so if the coursework you have completed is in Early Childhood or a related field (Non-ECE coursework/degrees will not affect your Career Ladder level). Please also ensure that the evaluation report will include verification that your degree is equivalent to a degree as awarded by regionally accredited institutions of higher education in the United States.   Scholarships to cover the cost of the translation services may be available*.  Download the scholarship application.

*Scholarship requests must be received and approved prior to obtaining translation services.  


Do I have to submit official transcripts?

No. The Nevada Registry accepts unofficial transcripts. (i.e. copies of original transcripts, etc.). However, your name must be printed directly on the transcripts in order to be accepted (computer-generated). The Registry will not accept transcripts with handwritten names.


Which of my completed courses will be applied toward my Career Ladder placement?

ECE courses will be factored into your Career Ladder placement. In order for a course to be considered ECE and/or ECE-related, there must be a direct correlation between the course content and Early Childhood (specifically ages 0-8). This will be determined by the course number as well as the course title. Applicants can submit a College/University Course Description Form for courses that aren't clearly related to ECE by course number or title alone.


Why weren't all of my courses/degrees accepted?

College transcripts help Registry staff validate your formal education for the purposes of Career Ladder placement. However, in some cases, transcripts that you provide and/or  the coursework/degrees listed on your transcripts, may not be accepted. These are the most common reasons why:

  • Your name and/or student ID was not printed on the transcript(s).

    We are unable to verify that the transcripts belong to you without your name being included.

  • Coursework and/or degree was completed at a non-accredited/non-regionally accredited school.

    The Registry only accepts courses and degrees earned at regionally accredited* institutions of higher education. Schools must be accredited by one of the following regional accrediting agencies to be accepted (updated May 2019):

  1. Higher Learning Commission
  2. Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  3. New England Commission of Higher Education
  4. Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  5. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
  6. WASC Senior College and University Commission
  7. Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges 

Click here to determine whether your school is regionally accredited.

*Exceptions made on a case-by-case basis.
  • Some of the courses listed are not considered ECE.

    Completion of ECE courses can directly affect your Career Ladder level placement. In order for a course to be considered ECE and/or ECE-related, there must be a direct correlation between the course content and Early Childhood (specifically ages 0-8). This will be determined by the course number as well as the course title.

  • ECE courses will apply toward Career Ladder placement only when a grade of “C” or better has been earned. Because courses with a grade of “D” or below are not counted toward degrees at colleges and universities, they also do not count toward Career Ladder placement. 

Can my training be counted as college credit?

No. There currently is no formal way to articulate informal training hours into formal education. Therefore, the Registry will count education/training as college credit only when college courses have been taken/completed at an accredited institution of higher education (community college or university), appear on a college transcript, and when a grade of C or better has been awarded. 

I’m applying for Career Ladder placement mid-semester. Can the courses I’m currently taking be counted?  

The Registry can include ECE courses in your Career Ladder level determination only when those classes have been completed and grades have been issued. Therefore, classes in progress and/or those pending a grade, such as at the end of a semester, will not be factored into your Career Ladder placement. Though not always possible, it is advised that you wait until those classes are complete and/or when the grade has been issued to apply to the Registry. This is particularly important if the completion of those classes will affect your level on the Career Ladder (i.e., raise your level). If it is not possible to postpone your application, those completed courses will be factored into your level placement upon your annual renewal.

How often should I send copies of my documentation (training certificates, etc.)?

Documentation of competed training should be submitted annually when you receive your renewal reminder notice from the Registry via email (annual renewal dates correspond to your certificate expiration date). At that time, we will ask that you submit any documentation for trainings attended, college courses completed, degrees earned, etc. since the time of your last application. Your Professional Career Development File will be updated and a new Certificate of Achievement will be issued. The exception to this is if the completion of college courses and/or the completion of your degree will change your Career Ladder level. In either case, we welcome you to submit transcripts and/or a copy of your degree in order for your level to be reevaluated and your file updated to reflect the highest level earned to date.


Why didn't my Career Ladder level change?

A common misconception is that an individual’s Career Ladder level will automatically change/increase upon their annual renewal because of continued employment in the field and/or participation with the Registry (i.e., one more year of experience/one more year of membership with the Registry). However, Career Ladder levels do not change based on longevity; rather, they increase as a result of the completion of additional professional development and/or college coursework. For instance, a member at Level 1.1 will move up to Level 1.2 only when he/she submits verification of a high school diploma. A member at Level 1.2 will move up to level 1.3 only if he/she submits copies of training certificates showing completion of 15 Registry-approved training hours or by completing a 1 credit ECE college course. A member at Level 1.3 will move up to Level 2.1 by completing a CDA, 8 ECE college credits or 120 hours of Registry-approved training, and so on*. If you’d like to talk with a Registry Specialist about your current level and the steps you'll need to take to advance to the next level, please feel free to contact our office any time!

*Individuals do not have to qualify at each level of the Career Ladder in order to advance. Refer to previous question.


What if I disagree with my Career Ladder level?

You may ask to have your Career Ladder level reviewed at any time. If this request is made within 30 days of your certificate issuance date, a re-evaluation will occur at no charge to you. If your concern or question is raised 30 or more days beyond your certificate issuance date, you may request a re-evaluation by submitting a Request for Career Ladder Re-Evaluation. A fee of $20 is imposed for re-evaluations that do not occur in conjunction with your annual renewal date and/or within 30 days of receiving your Certificate of Achievement.

You are also welcome to contact a Registry Specialist directly to discuss your level placement. If you remain dissatisfied with your level after discussing it with a Registry staff person, you have the right to appeal the decision*. The appeal process is iniitated by completing a Career Ladder Level Request for Formal Review form and submitting it to the Registry Director wtihin 45 days of your certificate issuance date.

*Submitting a request for re-evaluation does not guarantee a level change. Levels are granted based on the documentation provided and according to the established polices for level placement. Appeals cannot be initiated to factor in field experince in lieu of formal education, to request acceptance of a Non-ECE degree in lieu of an ECE degree and/or if the level granted is lower than expected due to failure to submit necessary documentation.