Last Updated: October 03, 2022
Child Development Associate/CDA Certification
A child development associate certification is taken by people who wish to enter professions like teacher assistant, preschool teacher, child care worker, etc. It is also an important credential for nannies who wish to get hired for higher pay and better benefits. The certification course can be taken online or in a distance mode and has a duration that is less than an associate degree.
Candidates will be able to take the certification in one of the four development stages of a child ranging from infant/toddler CDA certification to being a home visitor. Each of these certifications has its career options. Having this certification allows candidates to qualify for better-paying jobs since it depicts the level of skill and knowledge one has in the field. One will be able to find jobs in their respective fields without this certification since it isn’t mandatory but at the same time, having this certification exponentially increases their chances of getting employed.
Becoming a Child Developmental Associate
To become a child developmental associate, one is required to clear the CDA certification examination. There are a few steps one ought to take before one can attempt the final examination. Candidates are required to complete their high school education and a baccalaureate or associate degree in the field of child development. After this, they have to get 480 hours of work experience in the field they choose to specialize in or in any child developmental area.
Once the work experience has been gained, they will have to focus on the 8 subject areas of CDA and complete 10 hours each in these areas. After this, they will be able to apply for a verification visit where they will be practically assessed for their skills and knowledge. This verification visit will be counted along with the final examination for the candidate to get the CDA credential. Upon completing the verification visit they will be able to apply for the final exam and attempt the same through a Pearson Testing Center.
Eligibility & Training Requirements to get CDA Credential
The eligibility criteria for taking the CDA certification include having a Baccalaureate or Associate degree in either early childhood education, elementary education, or child development. Candidates who have a degree in areas associated with these three fields of study will also be able to apply for this certification. The documents required to apply for the certification include-
- Candidate should complete high school education or its equivalent.
- Candidates should have completed 10 hours each in the 8 different subject areas of CDA.
- Educational Transcripts
- 2 years of work experience in child care for children between 0-5 years for Baccalaureate degree holders.
- 4 years of work experience in child care for children 0-5 years for Associate degree holders.
CDA Certification Training
Getting a CDA credential requires candidates to fulfill the eligibility criteria before they can apply for the certification. Candidates are generally required to have 120 hours of education and 480 hours of work experience with children. They will also have to create a professional portfolio including family questionnaires and six reflective statements of competence. As part of the training, a CDA Professional Development Specialist is required to visit the candidate and ensure that they are well versed in all of the 8 subject areas. They will also check the competency of the candidate in dealing with children within a working setup.
The training programs are provided in an online mode, hybrid mode, and on-site mode with different states having different training agencies for the same. No training agency is endorsed by the Council for Professional Recognition and hence it is up to the candidate to select a place of study. A few of the places where one can take on-site CDA training include-
- 4C for Children
- Action for Children
- Brightside Up
- Corporation for Ohio Appalachia Dev
- Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County
Places where students can enroll for online CDA training include-
- Teachstone Training
- Smart Horizons
- Learning Care Group
- Childcare Education Institute
- Better Kid Care
Types of CDA Credential Settings
There are four kinds of specializations one can choose from based on which they will be able to choose their CDA certification. The specializations focus on the developmental age of the child and candidates who specialize in one developmental stage of a child will be able to work within that very field. The four specializations include-
- Infant/Toddler CDA- This is for educators who wish to work with children between the age of 0 to 36 months.
- Preschool CDA- This is for educators who wish to work with children between the age of 3 to 5 years.
- Family Child Care CDA- This is for educators who wish to work with children between the age of 0 to 5 years.
- Home Visitors CDA- This is for caseworkers who do home visits to ensure the welfare of children between the age of 0 to 5.
CDA Certification Cost
The cost of taking the CDA certification is based on the mode in which the candidate applies. Candidates who apply using paper applications will have to pay an amount of $500 whereas those who apply through the online mode will have to pay only $425.
Since the validity of the certification is only 3 years, one will have to renew it by paying $150 for paper applications and $125 for online applications.
Steps to Apply for CDA
Candidates who wish to apply for a CDA program will have to initially prepare for the same with all necessary documents. This implies that they should have a valid high school diploma or its equivalent along with professional education including 120 hours of professional early childhood education. These 120 hours will have to be split into 10 hours in each of the 8 CDA subject areas. They will also require 480 hours of work experience with children in the age group of the CDA certification they are applying for. Along with this, they will have to have a professional portfolio and have completed the family questionnaires provided.
The steps they have to complete for applying for CDA are as follows-
- Choose a CDA Professional Development Specialist- Candidates who have prepared all their documents will have to choose a CDA Professional Development Specialist who will eventually perform their verification visits to collect their Identification Number.
- Step 1: Create an Account in the YourCDA application system- Candidates will be able to create their account in the YourCDA application system on the Council website. Here, they will be able to save their work and credentials. They will also be able to check the status of the application being made.
- Step 2: Pay the Application Fee- Now, they will be able to pay the non-refundable and non-transferable application fee of $425 along with the application.
- Step 3: Wait for Acceptance from CDA Council- Once the application has been reviewed and accepted, candidates will be able to schedule their verification visit and CDA exam.
- Step 4: Schedule Verification Visit- The chosen CDA Professional Development Specialist will now visit based on the scheduled date to review the professional portfolio, transcripts, and other credentials of the candidate. They will also observe the candidate during their work and discuss their strengths and weaknesses with the candidate.
- Step 5: Collect Director’s Permission- Now, during the verification visit, candidates will have to collect their director’s sign and permission so they can eventually apply online.
- Step 6: Take CDA Examination- After the successful completion of the verification visit, candidates will have to take the CDA examination. If they clear the examination, they will get their credential a week from the examination date.
CDA Certification Exam Format
The final exam for certification is provided at Pearson Testing Centers. The exam contains 65 multiple choice questions out of which 5 are scenario questions that contain a short narrative and photo. The duration of the examination is 1 hour and 45 minutes. The score of the examination is sent to candidates electronically. Candidates who have cleared the examination and exceeded expectations in the verification visit will be provided with the CDA credential.
Subject Areas for CDA
Candidates who have 120 CDA professional development hours in formal early childhood education will be able to apply for the different CDA subject areas. They are required to complete around 10 hours in each subject area for them to apply for the CDA certification examination. These subject areas include-
- Sketch out a healthy learning environment for children
- Boost physical and intellectual competence of children
- Encourage social and emotional development through positive guidance
- Maintain positive relationships with families
- Stay professional
- Manage a well-run program that's responsive to the children's needs
- Observe the behavior of children and record them
- Learn basic principles of child development
Preparing for CDA
While earning professional work experience and completing the verification visit are the tougher tasks in gaining a CDA credential, completing the CDA examination successfully is also an important aspect that one must do before receiving the credential. But the examination is generally focused on the aspects that candidates will have to deal with daily in their professional lives. This includes the training and other experiences they have received in the 120 hours previously.
- Review Content Areas- Though one might be familiar with all the content that appears for the examination, it will do good for candidates to look up the functional areas and revise them to not miss any area that is important for the examination.
- Check the Exam Format-Familiarising oneself with the exam format will help one traverse through the examination easily since the examination is timed. It will also help them panic less while taking the examination
- Take a Diagnostic Test or Practice with Available Question Papers- One will be able to prepare for the examination by purchasing practice test books or online content where they can familiarise themselves with the test. This will also ultimately help them improve their score.
Renewing the CDA Certification
The validity of a CDA certification is 3 years from the date on which the certification has been awarded. Candidates should consider the expiry date and renew their certification before it expires. This will require them to resubmit the necessary documents along with a renewal application form.
Candidates will be able to apply for renewal at least 6 months before the date of expiry. The cost of renewing is $150 for paper applications and $125 for online applications.