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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-

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- Places where students can enroll for online CDA training include-

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-

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-

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-
  1. Sketch out a healthy learning environment for children
  2. Boost physical and intellectual competence of children
  3. Encourage social and emotional development through positive guidance
  4. Maintain positive relationships with families
  5. Stay professional
  6. Manage a well-run program that's responsive to the children's needs
  7. Observe the behavior of children and record them
  8. 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.

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.

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