2022 CDA® Credential Holders Survey

Data and Demand

What are the latest trends in career development and training?

There’s a focus in most fields on learning by doing that has people address the real-life issues they’ll need to tackle on the job. There’s a push for continued professional growth so employees keep investing in their education and updating their skills. Remote learning is on the rise, especially for working adults. There’s more recognition of the value of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, with an emphasis on advancing communities that are underserved. Training programs are taking aim at giving young people the skills employers now are demanding. And there’s more use of data to assess the impact of training and pinpoint areas for improvement—the goal of the 2022 CDA Credential Holder and Focus Groups Narrative Report from the Council for Professional Recognition.

The Council conducted its survey in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to severe gaps in the early care and learning profession as health concerns caused many teachers to flee the field. Here’s what we found:

Qualified, Committed Educators Needed

Nearly half of child care programs contended with a decline in staffing, and 60 percent found it hard to hire more staff. Over a third of the programs had longer waitlists than normal due to the teacher shortage, and that left many working parents in the lurch. In short, both early childhood programs and the families they serve need more qualified, committed educators like those who earn a Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential™.

CDA® Holders Have the Right Skills

The Council has awarded the CDA® to nearly a million people around the world since our start in 1985. These early childhood professionals have gone on to provide young children with quality experiences in learning, the Council’s enduring mission and one it’s always striving to perform even better. So, every five years for the past 20 years, the Council has surveyed its CDA stakeholders on ways to strengthen the credential and make sure it meets their changing needs. This report on our latest survey distills responses from 5,343 CDA holders and findings from focus groups that included owners and hiring managers in early childhood settings, along with Spanish-speaking/bilingual providers. And the feedback they gave shows that CDA holders have the right skills that employers need right now in our early childhood settings.

Classroom Preparedness and the CDA®: Where Theory Meets Practice

The credential helps rising teachers get ahead by combining theory with practice. The CDA requires candidates to gain 480 hours of experience in the classroom, besides taking 120 hours of coursework, so CDA holders know the demands of a real-world classroom and increasingly have what it takes to meet them. According to the data, 87 percent of CDA holders feel more prepared for the classroom because they’ve gained a foundation in early learning and best practices for the profession.

CDA® Holders Preferred by Employers

The number of CDA earners between 18 and 34 has been increasing, in part because high school CTE programs have ramped up their CDA instruction in recent years. This means that students can graduate career ready for a field that urgently needs staff, especially since COVID has led to a child care crisis. But the quality of teachers still counts in the hiring process since early learning programs don’t want to simply put warm bodies in front of the precious children they serve. So, 80 percent of owners and directors are more likely to hire someone with a CDA than someone without it, and one program owner summed up the reasons why. “For me, it shows that the staff is very dedicated, they’re knowledgeable, and they’re willing to put in the effort because it’s a lot of work to earn the CDA.”

Meaningful Interactions and Longevity Matters

Candidates who succeed gain crucial skills and are more prepared for the classroom, as 79 percent of owners and directors agreed. The top benefits of earning a CDA are increased knowledge of evidence-based practices, specialized knowledge of child development, and readiness to handle difficult classroom situations, as owners and directors pointed out. CDA holders appear to be better at interacting with children and communicating with parents. They also stay longer on the job and seem more committed to their work due to the effort it takes to earn the credential.

Online Training Improves Accessibility for Working Educators

Technology has made taking the CDA courses more convenient. Candidates can attend their classes either on-site, online, or in a hybrid combination. And that matters since 62 percent of CDA candidates hold full-time jobs, often in the child care field, while completing their coursework. And the programs that they work in approve of the endeavor. “We see the CDA as a steppingstone to professionalism in early childhood,” as the owner of one child care center explained. “And so even folks who we’ve identified as having degrees in early childhood, they need to get a CDA.”

Earning a CDA® Pays Off, Literally

It pays off by helping CDA holders progress in their careers, according to 73 percent of the CDA earners we surveyed. Half of employers pay CDAs up to 10 percent more than their non-credentialed colleagues. And many get promotions, most commonly to lead teacher. Still, CDA holders realize that earning a CDA is about more than pay and promotions. Earning a CDA is a way to expand your skills and serve children better, the reason 60 percent of respondents said they pursued the credential. Some are novice teachers like one focus group participant who praised the CDA as a way of “providing you with knowledge if you have no knowledge of child care.” Others are seasoned teachers who put in the effort to keep their credentials up to date. Two-thirds of CDA holders have renewed their credentials at least once in order to refresh their existing knowledge and explore new areas of interest in their field.

CDA® Promotes Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The Council encourages CDA holders to continue learning, especially those who come from underserved groups. Our enduring goal is to promote equity in education for both teachers and children, so, it’s important to look at the faces behind all the figures. Over half of CDA holders are people of color, and one quarter speak Spanish So, the credential promotes equity, diversity and inclusion by giving all education professionals more chances to build rewarding careers.