Reaching Your Goals with a CDA certification


If you love working with children, and are in search of a rewarding career that won’t take years of college to obtain, you might consider earning a CDA certification in child development. This certification can take you many places towards your career goals, and many times begins at a nearby child daycare center.

Definition of a Child Development Associate

A CDA certificate is generally needed to work in any childcare setting, whether it be a daycare, medical, counseling, or court and legal facilities. Wherever you want your career to go, it will begin in this area with a CDA certificate that allows you to work with children. The certification acknowledges that you are prepared and knowledgeable in child care and development.

cda certification

A person who is CDA certified is recognized as a specialist in child care development. If you are seeking CDA certification to further your career, or if your present employer requires that you receive certification, there are some requirements that you must meet in order to apply for your certification.

Every CDA certification is approved through the state in which you plan to work, but also the Council for Professional Recognition, in Washington, D.C., which issues and renews certifications. There are three types of CDA certifications: center-based settings, family child care settings, and home visitor settings. Each certification has the same basic requirements, but the training will vary slightly depending on the type of job you hold. Many daycare facilities require center-based setting certification, while many state and legal agencies require field workers who have training in family or home settings.

You are not required to have a degree in order to be CDA certified. Most community colleges offer child development classes that will lead to certification, or, if you currently work in a child care setting, stepping up to a CDA position may be possible. In fact, many employers will require that you receive certification before working directly alone with children.

CDA Certification Requirements

In order to apply for CDA certification, you must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, and completed 120 hours of classes (12 college hours) on the subjects required. You will be assigned an observer while you are in training, and the hours will be documented and noted by the observer. Once completed, you will be required to pass a basic written and oral exam, sent to you by the governing council. If the council is confident you display the competency required in child development, you will be issued a CDA certificate, renewable every three years. The study and training are completed in about 12 months.

Application for a CDA Certification

During the application process, you will be judged on your level of competency displayed in child care development knowledge, your ability to care for children, your advisor’s observations, and parents observations. These are generally questionnaires sent home with parents who will grade you according to their opinions of how you handle children. These notes will be a part of your application to the council, along with documentation of your completed courses of study. The competency standards you will be judged on are safety, health, learning environment, communicative, creativeness, social, guidance, family, professionalism, and management abilities.

You will be required to include an application fee when applying for your certification. The process may take several weeks before your CDA certification is approved and received. You may find several online classes available for certification. In addition, there is a one-year certification program available for those who have never worked, or not currently employed in a job that directly cares for children. It is also available through the council for certification for a fee, and must be renewed for the three-year certification once your hours of experience are logged.

For more information regarding a CDA certification, visit your college counselor, child care employer, or contact the Council for Professional Recognition, 2460 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009-3575, or online at www.cdacouncil.org.

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