Earning an MSA or CDA credential in the Military.


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A Military School-Age (MSA) or Child Development Associate® (CDA) credential can take your career in early childhood and school-age education further, even into the highly regarded Department of Defense educational system. An MSA or CDA® credential can open doors to competitive national and international jobs. You will be recognized for having a command of today’s best practices for teaching children.

The Military School-Age Credential (MSA) promotes quality service to parents and children by providing specific standards, training and evaluation for Military School-Age teachers, staff members and Family Child Care providers.

It is an opportunity for adults working with school-age children on military bases to gain professional recognition by demonstrating competence in their on-the-job skills. Staff must complete the Foundation Level Individual Development Plan (IDP) to be eligible for the MSA.

The U.S. Department of Defense recognizes those with MSA Credentials as educators who have reached a high level of competency working with school-age children. The MSA may qualify you to move to a higher position and may translate into college credit, but the number of credits varies with each institution.

NOTE: At the present time the MSA credential is awarded to all branches of the service except ARMY.

Stage 1: Application

Any interested individual may request a packet of application materials from their military school-age coordinator or from this website. The packet contains all instructions and forms needed for the next stages of the assessment system.

Stage 2: Team Formation/Information Collection 

Four people serve in the Local Assessment Team: Advisor, Parent Community Representative, Military School-Age Representative and you, the candidate. Each team member must meet eligibility requirements and has specific responsibilities for collecting information about your work. When all team members have finished information collection, they complete the Assessment Request Form, which you send to the Council with the military authorization documentation for a $150 payment.

Stage 3: Local Assessment Team Meeting

The Council then assigns a Military School-Age Representative to contact you, the Advisor and the Parent Community Representative to schedule the team meeting. The four team members meet to present and evaluate information about your work. The team votes on your competence and makes their final recommendation.

Stage 4: Credential Award

After LAT Meeting, the MSA Representative collects the assessment materials and sends them to the Council with the team’s final recommendation. The Council reviews the assessment materials and will notify you of the final decision.

Stage 5: Credential Renewal

The MSA Credential is valid for three years from the date of award, after which it may be renewed for 5-year periods

The Council for Professional Recognition administers the MSA credential and, along with military officials, evaluates each candidate’s competence. You will be evaluated by the Local Assessment Team (LAT), a group of people representing the various aspects of the school-age field. The LAT should include:

  • An Advisor – military school-age professional
  • A Parent/Community Representative – member of the local military community
  • A Military School-Age Representative – representative of the military

You will select people to serve as the Advisor and Parent/Community Representative. The Council assigns you the Military School-Age Representative. All members of the LAT team must meet eligibility requirements and each member has different responsibilities.  We encourage you to contact your School-Age coordinator to obtain the MSA Application Packet or from this website for a detailed description of the process and eligibility criteria.

You must contact your program coordinator to secure a Military School-Age Application Packet. You may also purchase an application packet from the Council Store, but BEFORE ORDERING, please check with your MSA Coordinator or training program to see if they have an available packet for you.



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