Education Assistant Certificate

Program Description

The Certificate in Education Assistant prepares learners to support children and youth with diverse abilities in British Columbia K-12 classroom settings. This credential is grounded in the principles of positive, person-centred support and holistic development of individual potential. The importance of making personal connections to knowledge, content, and ways of being are reflected in course design, enabling Education Assistants (EAs) to support children and youth to become connected, competent, caring, and autonomous individuals.

The Certificate in Education Assistant comprises 15 courses that blend theoretical, practical, and experiential learning while enabling students to document and synthesize their professional development through an Integrative Learning Portfolio.

Northern Lights College offers a 12 month Certificate* or two-year Diploma program. This program may be completed on a part- or full-time basis. Students may complete the program within their own community through online delivery. Face-to-face offerings are available within the NLC region (contingent on student enrollment or special project offering).*When completed full time in three full semesters (Fall, Winter, Fall)

Career Prospects

Qualified Education Assistants are employed in public and independent (private) schools around the province. Graduates of the Northern Lights College Education Assistant program may seek a variety of positions in elementary and secondary education settings, including Special Needs Support Worker, Personal Care Attendant, Settlement Workers in Schools and Playground and/or School Supervision Monitor.  Education Assistants may be employed at any grade level, from kindergarten to high school graduation, to provide support to children with varying levels of special needs or they may provide general support in the delivery of educational programs to a number of children.

Prospective students are encouraged to research employment prospects for Education Assistants in their local community and school districts prior to applying to the program.


Location: The entire program is regularly offered through a blended model of online delivery, including asynchronous and synchronous modes of delivery. Students complete practica within their own communities provided options exist for acceptable placements. Students unable to locate suitable practicum placements in their own community may need to relocate to another community for one or more of the practicum courses.  Face-to-face offerings may be available within the Northern Lights College region depending on student interest and project funding.

Full-time: The minimum possible time to complete under ideal conditions is 12 months.
Part-time: Two or more years, depending on course offerings.
585 theory course hours + 290 practica hours = 875 total hours  

Full-time: September to complete within 16 months.
Part-time: September, January, or May/July.

Fees: Current Fee Schedule

Need upgrading first? Start with NLC’s Career and College Preparation program.

Admission Requirements

A.  Standard Admission Requirements Are As Follows:
1. Completion of a Northern Lights College Application Form and payment of the related fee.
2. Copy of government issued picture ID with current full legal name.
3a. Students from countries that practice Standard Written English must have official transcripts demonstrating successful completion of one of the following English courses with a “C” or higher: English Studies 12, English 12, English Literature 12, English 12 First Peoples, English 050, English 099, or an equivalent course.
3b. Any university-level English course with a "C" grade or higher.
3c. Completion of the NLC Writing Assessment with 100-level course placement.
4. Submission of EA Entrance Questionnaire (included in Application Package on website).
5. Comprehensive letter stating the applicant's background, interest, and goals for pursuing the Education Assistant Certificate.
6. Two current letters of reference written and dated within a year of application, attesting to the candidate’s knowledge, skills and attitudes as a fit for the EA profession. One must be from a recent employer and one must be a personal reference from a non-family member.
7. Current assurance of good health from a physician (see form included in Application Package on website).
8. Valid Solicitor General Schedule B Criminal Record Check (CRC) (works with "children" or works with "children and vulnerable adults"). Students who have completed a valid Schedule B CRC (works with "children" or works with "children and vulnerable adults") for another organization may share their results with Northern Lights College by completing the Sharing Form. Please see NLC's Criminal Record Check procedures for instructions on how to complete a CRC.
B. Students Who Received Their Secondary Education in a Language other than English:
1. In lieu of Item A3 above, domestic and international students who received their secondary education in French or in a language other than Standard Written English require minimum IELTs Academic scores of 6.0 overall with no band less than 6.0.
C. Dual Credit Students:
1.  In lieu of Item A3 above, dual credit students may submit secondary school transcripts indicating successful completion of English 11 and enrollment in an acceptable Grade-12-level English course with an interim grade of “C” or higher.

Post-Admission Notes:
CRCs must be renewed if they expire before the Education Assistant Certificate is completed. Students are obligated to report any Schedule B criminal convictions that occur after they authorize a CRC but are still enrolled in NLC's Education Assistant program. Failure to do so may result in a requirement to withdraw from the program. 

Important Notes

  1. The program is eligible for Canada Student Loans. Visit StudentAid BC to apply for financial assistance online.  Note that dual credit students are not eligible for Student Aid.
  2. Each student is required to authorize a Ministry of Justice Criminal Record Check before participating in any courses involving access to children or vulnerable adults.
    Under no circumstances will students be permitted to complete any practical work in a child care or school setting until NLC has received a clear Schedule B criminal record check with the Ministry of Justice.
    Students are obligated to report any Schedule B criminal convictions that occur after they authorize a Criminal Record Check but are still enrolled in the program. Failure to do so may result in immediate dismissal from the program. 
    Please see the NLC Criminal Records Check page for completion instructions and more information pertaining to Criminal Record Checks.
  3. Students complete practica within their own communities provided the options exist for acceptable placements. Students unable to locate suitable practicum placements in their own communities may need to relocate to another community for one or more of the practica.
  4. Please note the following application deadlines: May 1 for Fall (September) start; October 1 for Winter (January) start; and February 1 for Spring (April) start.
  5. The information on this program page is a summary of the official Program Completion Guide approved by NLC’s Education Council. Download the Program Guide.
  6. Northern Lights College has partnered with Collège Éducacentre for delivery of the Education Assistant Certificate in French. For information on delivery of the program in French, see Aide pédagogique spécialisé - Aide enseignant - Collège Éducacentre (

View the Education Assistant Admissions Page

Do you need more information?
ECEC/EA Office:


Foundation Requirements (12 credits; 180 hours):

Specialty Requirements (21 credits; 315 hours):

Practicum Courses (7 credits; 290 hours):

Specialty Electives (6 credits; 90 hours) - Students must choose 2 courses from the list below:

Additional Notes:

1. 1. Students who have completed NLC’s Certificate in Education Assistant will be granted the following course substitutions toward NLC's Social Services Worker Diploma provided the HDEC courses were completed within six years with a minimum grade of C+: HDEC 100, HDEC 101, HDEC 103, and HDEC 121 = SSWD 110 and SSWD 215.

2. Certificate in Education Assistant students who have previously completed the NLC ECEC diploma with ECED 210: Practicum - Diverse Abilities will be granted a course substitution for EDAS 148: Exploring Diversity.