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New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3)

New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3)

Level 3

UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3) will give you a solid grounding in all aspects of early childhood education.

A photograph of a UCOL student attending the early childhood class where she is enjoying painting
Quick info

Level: 3

Locations: UCOL Manawatū in Palmerston North, UCOL Whanganui, UCOL Wairarapa in Masterton, UCOL Horowhenua in Levin

Duration: 19 weeks full-time

Palmerston North & Masterton
21 Feb 2022 - 01 Jul 2022
25 Jul 2022 - 02 Dec 2022

14 Feb 2022 - 11 Nov 2022

21 Feb 2022 - 01 Jul 2022

Domestic Fees: *
$3395.00Scholarship info

International Fees:*

Additional Fees
Compulsory course costs may apply.

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). The fee shown is for one year of study.

Learn how to care for infants, toddlers and young children as an entry-level carer in an early childhood centre in UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3). The Certificate covers health, safety and nutrition; caring for young children; development and learning; and how to develop educational programmes for infants, toddlers and young children. 

As part of this early childhood education programme you will take on a practicum placement in an early childhood setting to put your learning into practice.

COVID-19 Vaccinations:

As of October 2021, the Government has announced a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for those working in the healthcare and education sectors. UCOL, and our students, are required to comply. The Government’s mandate means that many practicum placement providers will require students to be vaccinated before your practicum. The placement hours are essential for this programme. If you are not COVID-19 vaccinated, your placement access will be very limited. This will affect your ability to complete this programme successfully, and become qualified.

 Career & Study Outcomes

Successful graduates of UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3) have introductory knowledge of children's learning and development and will be able to contribute to the workplace as an entry-level carer. Job opportunities include:

  • Early childhood centres
  • Home-based childcare centres

To find out more about possible job prospects and salaries, see Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Occupation Outlook for Teachers.

Education pathway

Graduates who wish to go on to further study can enrol in:

 Course Information

This programme comprises 60 credits.

Early Childhood Learning and Development Theory (15 Credits)
Gain an operational knowledge of children’s learning, development, growth and environmental influences in an early childhood and care context within New Zealand. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to demonstrate knowledge of children's development and their basis needs, explain the link between attachment behaviour and patterns of behaviour in young children, and demonstrate knowledge of the factors that influence nutrition and their effect on early childhood development.

Culture and Communication in an Early Childhood Setting (15 Credits)
Develop a range of communication skills to enhance social competency when working with a diverse range of cultural groups within New Zealand. This includes using basic te reo Māori and tikanga Māori within a familiar early childhood context to promote awareness of Māori as tangata whenua.

Legislative and Ethical Practices in an Early Childhood Context (15 Credits)
Develop an awareness of the legislative requirements that support early childhood services in New Zealand, including:

  • Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008
  • Licensing Criteria for Education and Care Services
  • Vulnerable Children Act 2014
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
  • Code of Ethics for Certified Teachers
  • Philosophy of Early Childhood Education
  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi 

Early Childhood Practicum (15 Credits - 60 hours)
Gain practical experiences within an early childhood setting to develop confidence, skills and cultural competency in working with children, families/whānau and fellow educators.

Previous Related Programme

The New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care supersedes and takes the best from the following programme of study, which is no longer offered:

  • National Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care

 Student & Staff Profiles

 Industry Connections

Students complete placements in industry so we have a wide-range of connections to Early Childhood Centres in our regions.

 Learning Facilities

Learn from our experienced and supportive lecturers in our Early Childhood classrooms on both our Palmerston North and Masterton campuses and when on placement in Centres.

 Domestic Entry Requirements

NCEA Level 1


Equivalent academic achievement


On a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Executive Dean

Students must authorise UCOL to obtain a background check from the New Zealand Police Licensing and Vetting Agency. If a conviction and/or a matter of concern is identified, the decision for accepting the applicant’s enrolment onto the programme is at the discretion of the Head of School.

UCOL will undertake a safety check of all students to ensure UCOL meets the legislative requirements of the Vulnerable Children Act, 2014.  UCOL will do this on behalf of early childhood education institutions and providers of private childcare placements hosting UCOL students.  The safety check involves confirming the student’s work history, verifying their suitability to work with children with a trusted referee, and the completion of New Zealand Police vetting.


For more information about NCEA Credits see UCOL's NCEA explained page.

 International Entry Requirements

In addition to the Domestic Entry Requirements, the following applies to international student applicants.

English language proficiency
International student applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS General or Academic score of 5.0 with no band score lower than 5 (or equivalent including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible). UCOL is a TOEFL iBT testing centre. The English Proficiency test is accepted for English language entry into all UCOL programmes.

Under 20 years of age
For international applicants under 20 years of age who do not hold NCEA, International Academic Qualifications Entry Criteria apply.

 Advice & Guidance

Students will be placed in an early childhood setting organised by UCOL to complete 60 hours of work experience. Work placements and successful completion of the programme are dependent on a satisfactory police check and UCOL’s ability to place students successfully.

Whanganui and Masterton classes will be on Thursdays and Fridays.
Palmerston North and Levin classes  will be on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Recognition of prior learning
Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning, including Cross Credit, Credit Transfer and Assessment of Prior Learning may be made on the Recognition of Prior Learning Form where a student believes all learning outcomes for a course have already been met. Applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the UCOL Academic Statute and other relavant policies and procedures.

Application checklist
It will make the process easier if you prepare the following before you apply:

  • National Student Number (NSN) (If you don't have a NSN, you may request one from NZQA, or you can supply a verified copy of your birth certificate, passport or Whakapapa statement.)
  • Evidence of your highest level of academic achievement (and evidence of prior learning, if applicable)
  • Evidence that you meet the entry requirements of the programme
  • Check if you're eligible for additional support or a scholarship. If you're 19 years or younger, you may be eligible to enrol in one of our free Youth Transition programmes.

Note that you will need to provide any verified documents in person, via post or email (not via the online application form).

 Additional Costs

Please note that there are additional costs associated with the New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3) as follows:

The following books are available from leading book stores including textbooksRus.

  • Clark, B. & Grey, A. (ED.). (2010). Āta Kitea Te Pae – Scanning the horizon. Perspectives on early childhood education. North Shore, New Zealand: Pearson. Approximate cost $64.00
  • Drewery, W. & Claibourne, L. (2014). Human Development: Family, place and culture (2nd ed.). Australia: McGraw-Hill Education Pty Ltd. Approximate cost $100.00


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under the provisions of the Education Act 1989, and Universal College of Learning (UCOL) is accredited to teach it.