What to Know About the CDA - post

What to Know About the CDA

What is the CDA?

The Child Development Associate (commonly known as the CDA) is a credential educators can earn that proves their competency in early childhood education, and is a great way to advance your career in the field. Developed in the 1970s, the CDA was to be the solution to improving standards in early childhood education.

What do I need to apply for the CDA?

The following is a list of prerequisites to apply for the CDA:

  1. Obtain a high school diploma, GED, or an official document certifying that you are a high school junior or senior currently enrolled in an early childhood education program.
  2. Purchase the CDA Competency Standards from the CDA Council, either online here or by phone at 1(800)424-4310. Please make sure the buy the appropriate book--infants and toddlers, preschool, family childcare, or home visitor--that best suits your needs.
  3. Complete 120 hours of formal early childhood education training that goes over child development in the age group you are pursuing your credential in, as well as a minimum of 10 hours each in the eight CDA subject areas.

Once the prerequisites are met, applicants should complete the following:

  1. Within 6 months of applying:
    • Gather reference materials and prepare your CDA Professional Portfolio as outlined in the CDA Competency Standards.
    • Contact a CDA Professional Development (PD) Specialist. They can be found online.
  2. Within 3 years of applying: 
    • Complete at least 480 hours of professional work experience with the age group of your credential application in a center-based setting.

I've gotten all of my materials and I'm ready to apply. What do I need to do?

There are two ways of submitting your application, either through the online application at Your CDA or through the paper application provided in your CDA Competency Standards book. Please remember that there is a non-refundable, non-transferable application fee that must be submitted with your application. You can learn more about scholarships and other kinds of financial assistance here.

The CDA Council will contact you once your application has been reviewed and approved to move forward. A notification to set up a date and time for your CDA Verification Visit and CDA exam will be sent to you. You can locate a local testing site at the Pearson Vue website.

I've had my verification visit and taken the exam. What happens now?

Your scores for the verification visit and exam are submitted electronically by the CDA PD specialist and Pearson Vue, respectively. A CDA Council committee will review your assessment results and determine if your CDA credential should be awarded. If the committee decides to grant you the CDA credential, an official document will be mailed to you; should you not be granted one because you need more training, the council will advise you on the next steps to earn the credential.


Questions? Email us at info@childcareed.com, or call the office at 1(833)283-2241 (2TEACH1) to ask questions about the CDA.

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