CDA

The Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential is a widely recognized credential for employment in an early childhood setting. 

The CDA Credential Process

Prepare

  • 120 hours early childhood education
  • 480 hours work experience
  • Family Questionnaires and Professional Portfolio

Apply

  • Choose a CDA Specialist to conduct your visit
  • Get approval for a verification visit
  • Apply through the CDA website

Demonstrate

  • Complete your CDA Verification Visit
  • Complete the CDA Exam

Earn

  • Receive your CDA Credential

Renew

  • Renew your CDA Credential every 3 years
  • Application for renewal must be at least 90 days before when the current credential would expire

"The Child Development Associate (CDA) Credentialâ„¢ is based on a core set of competency standards, which guide early care professionals as they work toward becoming qualified teachers of young children. The Council works to ensure that the nationally-transferable CDA is a credible and valid credential, recognized by the profession as a vital part of professional development."

CDA Preparation

Preparation for the CDA Credential is extensive, and includes a combination of education and professional experience. Some programs will allow students in the process of earning their CDA credential to work in the classroom on the condition that they obtain the credential within a certain period of time. This provides valuable classroom training and counts towards the 480 hours of experience required to apply.

120 Hours in Early Childhood Education

Education must include at least 10 clock hours in each of the 8 CDA subject areas (planning a safe and healthy learning environment, etc).

Education may be provided through in-person or online training, available through a range of providers and at a range of price levels.

480 Hours Work Experience

Experience must be with children in the age group that you seek to work with. Experience may be paid or volunteer and must be completed within three years of when the CDA application is submitted.

Professional Portfolio

Complete Family Questionnaires and Professional Portfolio to submit to the CDA Council. This must be completed within three months of application, and includes reference materials as defined in the CDA Competency Standards guide.

CDA Application

Once all requirements have been met, the initial application to the CDA Council may be made through their website. Application requires a non-refundable $425 fee, either paid with your application, by your agency (with documentation required).

Apply

Education must include at least 10 clock hours in each of the 8 CDA subject areas (planning a safe and healthy learning environment, etc).

Education may be provided through in-person or online training, available through a range of providers and at a range of price levels.

480 Hours Work Experience

Experience must be with children in the age group that you seek to work with. Experience may be paid or volunteer and must be completed within three years of when the CDA application is submitted.

Professional Portfolio

Complete Family Questionnaires and Professional Portfolio to submit to the CDA Council. This must be completed within three months of application, and includes reference materials as defined in the CDA Competency Standards guide.

Demonstration and Evaluation

To finish the CDA process, an observational visit from an CDA Professional Specialist and examination must be completed. These steps should be completed within 6 months of submitting your "ready to verify" request to the CDA Council.

Visit

Schedule your visit with a CDA professional specialist of your choice. The professional visit is generally conducted in-classroom, though other accommodations may be available for applicants that are not employed in an early childhood setting.

Exam

Exams may be scheduled online through Pearson once a candidate receives a "Ready to Schedule" notice. Candidates should arrive 15 minutes early to the testing center and make sure to bring a photo ID.

Earn Your Credential

Once you have successfully completed the evaluation steps, the Council will award your CDA Professional Credential. This credential must be renewed every three years, with an application for renewal submitted at least 90 days from the expiration date.

Getting Started

CDA Homepage

Visit the CDA Website

CDA Login

Apply and check your application status

Contact

Contact the CDA Council

Close Menu