Pathways to Becoming an Early Childhood Educator (ECE)

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"The role of the educator is multidimensional. The best educators, first and foremost, use a warm, responsive, and inclusive approach, building positive relationships with children, families, colleagues, and communities. Educators participate as co-learners with families and children – learning with children, about children, and from children. Knowledgeable educators get involved in play with children to support development, challenge thinking, and extend learning. They engage in reciprocal relationships with families and caregivers, learning about, with, and from them. Educators share their professional knowledge and experience and also seek out the knowledge and perspectives of families. The value of early years educators cannot be overstated."

(Ontario. Ministry of Education. (2014) How Does Learning Happen, Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years, 19.)

Diagram of apprenticeships and list of post-secondary programs, as detailed below

Post-Secondary Programs

ECE Apprenticeship

Register as an Apprentice

  • Must have an Ontario Secondary School Diploma or equivalent
  • Must have an employer who agrees to sponsor the apprentice
  • Register as a Child Development Practitioner Apprentice with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) using the Skilled Trades Ontario Portal (STOP)
  • An Apprenticeship Training Agreement must be signed by the apprentice, employer and the Employment Training Consultant assigned by the MLTSD
  • Register with the Ontario College of Trades and pay the membership fee prior to the start of training 
  • Indicate to the MLTSD which college is preferred
  • Once an Offer of Classroom Training Letter is received from MLTSD, the apprentice can pursue the "In-School" portion of the apprenticeship
  • "In-School" Training refers to the formal education portion, delivered in the model chosen by the college of choice.​


  • "In-School" Training, 720 hours at an MLTSD-approved Ontario College of Arts and Technology
    • 17 theory courses delivered in-person, online, or in hybrid/blended model
    • 6 field placements (which may be done at apprentice's workplace depending on the college)
  • On-the-Job Training, 5280 hours
    • Complete all competencies of Apprenticeship Training Standard as witnessed by sponsor


  • Submit completed Apprenticeship training standard Log Book to MLTSD
  • Apply to graduate from College CDP Apprenticeship Program
  • MLTSD issues the Child Development Practitioner Certificate of Apprenticeship

ECE Bridging

  • Upon graduation of CDP Program, apprentice must apply to ECE bridging program at the College where "In-School" training occurred
  • Complete additional course and practical requirements (3 General Education and 2 ECE Communication courses) to attain Early Childhood Education (ECE) Diploma

College of ECE Membership

  • Upon receipt of Early Childhood Education (ECE) Ontario College Diploma, register with the College of Early Childhood Educators to become a Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE)

Financial Assistance may be available through

For more information on ECE programs: