Anytime before I apply

  • Earn a high school diploma, GED or be enrolled as a junior or senior in a high school career and technical program in early childhood education.
  • Complete 120 hours of formal early childhood education training, covering the growth and development of children ages 3 to 5 years old, with no fewer than 10 training hours in each of the eight CDA subject areas.

CDA Subject Areas

– Planning a safe and healthy learning environment
– Advancing children’s physical and intellectual development
– Supporting children’s social and emotional development
– Building productive relationships with families
– Managing an effective program operation
– Maintaining a commitment to professionalism
– Observing and recording children’s behavior
– Understanding principles of child development and learning

Within 3 years of submitting application:

  • Obtain 480 hours of professional work experience in a center-based setting with children ages 3-5 years old.

Within 6 months of submitting application:

  • Prepare your CDA Professional Portfolio – You are required to put together a collection of reference materials related to your work. Please follow the detailed instructions in your Competency Standards book to prepare your CDA Professional Portfolio.


  •  Apply online for your CDA Credential the fee is $400
  • The non-refundable / non-transferable application fee of $425 must be submitted with your application. Make sure to secure the funds before you submit your application. Learn about CDA scholarships in your state.
  • Once your CDA application has been reviewed and accepted you will receive a Ready to Schedule notification from the Council.


  • Once you receive your Ready to Schedule notification from the Council, you are ready to schedule your CDA Verification Visit and CDA Exam.


  • Scores are electronically submitted to the Council by the CDA PD Specialist and Pearson Vue testing center.
  • A Council committee will review the results of your assessment and render a decision whether to award you the CDA Credential. If your credential is awarded, the official Child Development Associate® credential will be mailed to you. If the committee decides you need more training, the Council will let you know the next steps to take to earn the Credential.

Acquire Your Full CDA Credential $400

Renew Your CDA Credential $200