About the Continuing Education Unit
- The CEU is a measurement of noncredit continuing education activities.
- 1 IACET CEU = 10 contact hours of participation in an organized continuing education or training experience, delivered under responsible sponsorship, capable direction, and qualified instruction.
- The primary purpose of the CEU is to provide a permanent record of the educational accomplishments of an individual who has completed one or more significant noncredit educational experiences.
- CEUs can often be converted into other measurements, such as Professional Development Hours, depending on the organization or regulating body.
Professional development is learning that occurs within training events or courses that are offered in-person or online. Professional development is an important part of your career growth and a means by which you can meet continuing education requirements. Successful completion of these requirements can be recognized in several ways that vary by state, territory, region, or tribe.
Types of CEUs
There are also several types of CEUs, which are specific to certain professions. Nursing, counseling, and social work CEUs or continuing education offerings are measured in approved contact hours or hours spent engaged in the learning activity. In the teaching profession, CEUs are awarded based on 10-hour increments. A 10-hour approved event would yield one CEU, while events less than 10 hours provide fractions of a CEU. For example, a three-hour event would be worth 0.3 CEU. It is important to make sure you are receiving the correct type of CEUs for the requirements you are working to meet.
Using CEUs and Contact Hours within Professional Development Systems
- Some state professional development systems, workforce registries, or regulatory agencies such as licensing or credentialing bodies require you to submit CEUs to show that you have undergone professional development that meets a measure of quality of instruction or to provide assurance that you attended the professional development opportunity. Credential or licensure renewal may also require CEUs, for the same reasons. It is important to check with your licensing or regulatory body to make sure that you are meeting its specific requirements.
- The term CEU is often used generically to let participants know they are receiving professional development. However, if you need CEUs for credential or licensing purposes, check to see what institution is offering the CEU accreditation before you invest your time in the professional development offering. Look for the name or seal of the CEU issuer on certificates issued upon completing the professional development.
- For CEUs to count toward professional development hours, many regulatory agencies only accept CEUs issued by a recognized CEU-issuing organization such as the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) or a regionally accredited college or university providing noncredit bearing professional development. It is important to make sure the regulatory or credentialing body you are submitting CEUs to accepts the types of CEUs you have received.
- Education CEUs may be eligible for the Child Development Associate (CDA®) application or renewal. Check to ensure that the professional development offerings you take align with CDA subject areas* and count toward the initial 120 clock hours required for application submission or for the 4.5 CEU renewal requirement. Courses that have been aligned to the CDA subject areas will have this information identified with the session description. Upon course completion, the subject-area information is usually included on completion certificates, CEUs certificates, or transcripts. Please refer to the Council for Professional Recognition for additional application or renewal requirements.
Resources for Earning No- or Low-Cost CEUs and Contact Hours
Which CEUs Count for Me?
Finding the right continuing education credit can be complicated since types of certificates and requirements vary across states, territories, and tribes. Check with your local regulatory or licensing agency or association to find out what type of documentation or certification they require.
- The Individualized Professional Development (iPD) Portfolio offers asynchronous learning courses. Upon successful completion, you can download certificates directly from the iPD. Every certificate identifies contact hours as well as International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) CEUs, if eligible. Many iPD courses align with the CDA subject areas.
- Early Educator Central is a website that houses federally or state funded resources for infant/toddler educators with links to professional development offered at no- or low-cost. Browse the coursework tab to access online learning opportunities and course development materials. Many of the linked courses provide CEUs.
*CDA subject areas include: planning a safe, healthy environment; advancing children’s physical and intellectual development; supporting children’s social and emotional development; building productive relationships with families; managing an effective program; maintaining a commitment to professionalism; observing and recording children’s behavior; and understanding principles of child development and learning.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning
Last Updated: May 19, 2023