Military Pathways

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, children and youth 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 and youth on military bases to gain professional recognition by demonstrating competence in their on-the-job skills. Staff must complete the Foundation Level training 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 and youth. 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.


Eligible individuals aspiring to earn the MSA credential should visit: to download all of the materials needed to prepare for assessment. The materials will contain all the instructions and forms needed to prepare for the next stages of the assessment system.


In addition to the candidate, three people: an advisor, a Family/Community Representative and a MSA Representative, serve as members of the Local Assessment Team (LAT). Each LAT member must meet eligibility requirements and perform specific responsibilities for collecting information about the candidate’s work with youth. These are described in detail in Part II of the Candidate Instruction Guide.


When the candidate, advisor, and Family/Community Representative have finished information collection, the three Local Assessment Team members complete an Assessment Request Form, which the candidate submits to the Council, via email to:


The MSA Representative completes the verification visit and summarizes all the information received from the LAT members. The MSA Representative makes a final recommendation from the LAT to the Council.


The MSA Representative collects the assessment materials and submits them to the Council. The Council reviews the results of the assessment and renders a credentialing decision. If credential award is recommended, the official credential is sent to the candidate. In the unfortunate event that the credential is denied, the Council will make recommendations on areas of improvement and let the candidate know the next steps to take to earn the MSA credential.


A Military School-Age Credential is valid for three years from the date of award, after which it may be renewed for three-year increments.

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 Family/Community Representative – member of the local military community
  • A Military School-Age Representative – representative of the military

Candidates will select people to serve as the Advisor and Family/Community Representative. The Council assigns the Military School-Age Representative. All members of the LAT team must meet eligibility requirements and each member has different responsibilities. We encourage candidates to review the information on the MSA process for a detailed description of the process and eligibility criteria.



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