About the CDA®

Learn more about the Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential™.

Recognized Worldwide

The Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential™ is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education (ECE), and it is a key stepping stone on the path of career advancement in ECE. The CDA® is based on a core set of competency standards that guide early childhood professionals toward becoming qualified educators of young children. The Council works to ensure that the nationally transferable CDA is a credible and valid credential, recognized by the profession as a vital part of professional development.

CDA® Advantage

CDAs have knowledge of how to put the CDA Competency Standards into practice and an understanding of why those standards help children move with success from one developmental stage to another. Put simply, CDAs know how to nurture the emotional, physical, intellectual, and social development of children. Earning the CDA Credential has many advantages, including exposure to the larger community of early childhood educators. More than 800,000 CDA credentials have been issued to date, with approximately 40,000 initial and renewal CDAs annually.

CDA® Benefits

Becoming a CDA is a big commitment, but one that creates confident practitioners with a command of today’s best practices for teaching very young children.

  • Advance your career
  • Meet job requirements
  • Reinforce your commitment to early childhood education
  • Provide parents with peace of mind
  • Understand developmentally appropriate practice
  • Increase your confidence

CDA® Assessment

The assessment process is made up of two components: the CDA Exam and Verification Visit. The Council uses the results of both to make a credentialing decision.

The CDA® Exam

The CDA Exam is a component of the credentialing process. The exam is a 65-question, computer-based exam that is taken at a local Pearson VUE testing site. It is the candidate’s responsibility to schedule the exam after applying for and receiving the Ready to Schedule Notice from the Council.

The CDA Exam questions will test the candidate’s knowledge of basic early childhood best practices based on the CDA Competency Goals and the thirteen Functional Areas. Once the exam is completed, the scores are sent to the Council electronically.

Click the link under Additional Information if you require special accommodations for the exam.

CDA Verification Visit®

The Verification Visit is a component of the CDA credentialing process, where the candidate will be observed working with children/families as a lead teacher in a specific age group. It is the candidate’s responsibility to schedule the visit after applying for and receiving the Ready to Schedule Notice from the Council.

During the visit, the Council-approved, CDA Professional Development (PD) Specialist™ will go to the candidate’s place of work and review the candidate’s Professional Portfolio, observe the candidate working with children/families, and conduct a reflective dialogue about the candidate’s strengths and areas of growth. The PD Specialist will submit the evaluation and scores electronically to the Council.