The Nevada Early Care and Education Professional Career Ladder
Historically, Early Care and Education (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.
The Career 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.
Career Ladder Levels
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.
**Members are placed at levels based on the documentation provided to The Nevada Registry. Though difficult to determine the actual percentage, it is known that a number of members have submitted only what is necessary to become compliant with Child Care Licensing (in conjunction with mandatory participation), not what is needed to place at the level commensurate with their completed college courses/degrees in ECE. As a result, it should not be assumed that members placing at the non-degree levels of the ladder do not possess formal education and training beyond a High School diploma or that they do not possess higher education degrees.
Reasons Why the Career Ladder is Important to the ECE Profession
- A specialized Career Ladder provides ECE professionals with a roadmap for achieving their educational and professional goals. The Career Ladder supports professionals as they increase their training and education to improve the quality of care for all children. By providing a clear picture of where they currently are on their individualized career path, they will know exactly what is needed to advance to the next level.
- The Ladder incorporates 8 Core Knowledge Areas that can help ECE professionals make purposeful and balanced decisions about training and professional development.
- 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 helps 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 ECE professionals based on the attainment of higher education/higher Career Ladder levels.