Utah Career Ladder

The purpose of Utah’s Career Ladder System is to provide a method for individuals to track professional accomplishments and to recognize academic achievement related to the youth and early childhood education field. The goal of the system is to improve the professionalism and quality of the workforce, and ultimately, positively impact Utah’s children.

Approved Career Ladder Courses

Demonstrated Competencies

A current Demonstrated Competency is required for Career Ladder Level 4.
  1. A current Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential issued by the Council for Professional Recognition
  2. A current Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) Credential issued by National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA)
  3. A current .

    National Administration Credential: NECPA OR NICCM

    PLUS 60 hours of Career Ladder approved courses in the following subject areas:

    • 30 hours in Child Development
    • 10 hours in Safe, Healthy Learning Environment
    • 10 hours in Physical & Intellectual Development
    • 10 hours in Social & Emotional Development

    PLUS A passing score on an observation by an approved URPD observer or PD Specialist listed by the Council for Professional Recognition. The applicant is responsible for finding an observer that has been approved by URPD.

    Scholarship Information

  4. A Utah High School CTE Skills Certificate in Early Childhood Eduation 1A & 1B or Early Childhood Education 2 awarded within the last 3 years
  5. An from an accredited college or university within the last 3 years.

    An Early Childhood Practicum or Student Teaching Course completed from an accredited university will count as a demonstrated competency. Please submit a copy of university transcripts showing the following:

    • An Early Childhood Practicum or Student Teaching Course listed
    • A grade of "C" or better was earned
    • The course was completed within the past three years
    • The course is at least 3 college credit hours

    This demonstrated competency will expire three years after the completion of the practicum course. After three years, professionals will need to choose one of the other demonstrated competency options if they would like to keep their demonstrated competency current.

  6. A current School-Age Credential issued by the Utah Afterschool Network (UAN)

In order to keep Level 4 current, new demonstrated competency documentation must be submitted to URPD before the expiration date of the previously submitted credential.

The High School Skills Certificate and Practicum Course demonstrated competencies will expire three years after the certificate issue date or the completion of the course. After three years, professionals will need to choose one of the other four options if they would like to keep their demonstrated competency current.

Professionals on Career Ladder Levels 4-8 who have earned their demonstrated competency through a previous option, or have let their credential expire, will maintain their level on the Career Ladder, but it will be listed as expired until the demonstrated competency documentation is current.

Professionals on Career Ladder Level 9 or above that have earned a college degree do not need to maintain a current demonstrated competency.

Demonstrated Competency Observeration Information

Observer application and payment request information:

Demonstrated Competency Approved URPD Observers

Select from one of the Observers listed below or find a PD Specialist listed with the CDA Council.

Carolyn Christensen

Sandy Craft

Carolyn Ellsworth

Encarni Gallardo

Peggy Golding

Summer Green

Barbara Johnson

Crystal Knippers

Carrie Sigler

Ilse Wilson

Professional Activities

Professional activities are an additional way to earn Career Ladder approved credit hours. Approved professional activities go above and beyond a professional’s current job responsibilities and demonstrate a commitment to leadership, engagement in learning and sharing knowledge with others in order to advance the youth and early childhood education field. Ten professional activity hours may be counted towards clock hour requirements to earn Career Ladder Level 5, 6, 7  or 8.

The list of approved activities includes:

  • Attending a conference *NEW: All conferences will now be approved through this process.
  • Attending a guest speaker presentation at a Care About Childcare resource night
  • Presenting at a conference
  • Presenting as a guest speaker for a college course or seminar
  • Contributing written content to a youth or early childhood publication
  • Serving as a member of a committee for a professional or advocacy organization in the field
  • Serving as a board member for a professional or advocacy organization in the field

For more detailed information about these activities and how to submit documentation, view the Approved Professional Activities List.

Child Care Quality System

Within the Child Care Quality System, a maximum of 10 professional activity hours may be used as part of the Career Ladder approved annual training for each individual counted within Domain 3: Leadership and Professional Development and Domain 4: Management and Administration.

Questions? Please contact your local Care About Childcare agency or URPD.


Endorsements are topic-specific trainings.

Endorsement Requirements
  • 40 hours of topic-specific Career Ladder approved courses OR
  • 4 topic-specific related CEU's OR
  • 3 topic-specific related college credits
Currently, the following endorsements are available in Utah:
  • Family Child Care Endorsement
  • Guidance & Emotional Wellness Endorsement
  • Infant & Toddler Endorsement
  • School Age Endorsement
  • School Readiness Endorsement
  • Special Needs Endorsement
  • Theories and Best Practices Endorsement
  • Center Director’s Endorsement - Additional option: NAC
  • Developing Your Child Care Business Endorsement - Additional option: NAC
  • Relationship Touchpoints Endorsement - Only option: 40 hours of topic-specific approved Career Ladder courses

Foreign Degree Evaluation

All college degrees and credits from a country other than the United States must be translated to English, if necessary, and be evaluated and listed as the United States equivalent to be considered for the Career Ladder. The evaluation must show the United States equivalent for any degrees conferred as well as a course-by-course evaluation showing the course name, number of semester college credit hours and grade.

Obtaining a translation and equivalency evaluation is the responsibility of the individual and must be listed on a transcript from an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or completed by a member of one of the following associations:

Freelance Instructor Network (FIN)

A New Professional Development Opportunity

Looking for a way for your staff to receive more training and Career Ladder credit hours? We have an exciting new professional development opportunity that will provide a way for programs to arrange on-site training for their staff.

In partnership with Care About Childcare, the Office of Child Care is piloting a new initiative called the Freelance Instructor Network (FIN). In this pilot, programs will be able to independently contract with an approved instructor to teach Care About Childcare courses for their employees. Programs will be able negotiate the time and place of the training with the contracted instructor.


  1. Contact your local Care About Childcare to request the FIN contact list for your area.
  2. Contact an instructor on the list and discuss your program’s professional development needs.
  3. Independently contract with an instructor to teach a Care About Childcare course for the staff at your program.

As the Child Care Quality System (CCQS) launches, the FIN provides a new option to assist programs with meeting their professional development goals. We hope you will take advantage of this new pilot initiative if it meets your program’s needs.

Please contact your local Care About Childcare with any questions regarding this pilot program.

Freelance Instructor Network (FIN) Pilot Infromation and FAQ for Programs

Instructor Approval

In order to maintain high-quality standards for Career Ladder classes, all instructors must be approved by URPD. To become an instructor, please submit a completed application and signed Instructor Agreement form. The Instructor Agreement form documents that the applicant has read and promises to comply with the information in the Career Ladder Instructor Competencies booklet. Please submit completed forms to the Office of Child Care Professional Development Specialist at hadams@utah.gov.

Curriculum Approval

In order to maintain and ensure the quality of trainings for career Ladder credit, all curriculums must be approved by URPD before the training occurs. Curriculum applications must be submitted at least one month before the training is to occur. All other forms and instructions will be sent upon approval of the training.