High School Pathways

The CDA can be the first step toward an ECE career for high school students.

Jumpstarting ECE Careers

Guided by the belief that all students should be college- or career-ready, in 2011 the Council provided an opportunity for high school students enrolled in Career & Technical Education (CTE) Programs to earn the Child Development Associate® (CDA) credential™. Earning a CDA® credential in high school jumpstarts successful careers and channels faculty expertise. The CDA is the only portable, national and multi-language credential of its kind. A CDA opens career opportunities for thousands of graduates every year.

For Faculty & Administrators

Participating in the CDA program can expand career pathways within the ECE field in your state. The CDA empowers students with explicit, measurable and transferable learning competencies recognized in all 50 states and the U.S. military. The CDA integrates with state pre-designed courses and aligns with many CDA requirements already covered in state-approved courses.

The CDA:

  • Provides opportunities for customized CDA/ECE courses to support roll-out in the state
  • Can include education offered concurrently or in the same cycle as workforce preparation and training
  • Enables the CTE program to offer students a secondary school diploma and at least one recognized industry-based credential
  • Helps individuals enter or advance within a specific occupation or occupational cluster
  • Prepares students for success in college and careers

For more information, email us at:

NEW! CDA® High School Handbook

Child Development Associate® (CDA) Handbook for High School: A Guide to Advocacy and Implementation is for instructors, school faculty, and administrators interested in developing a high school CDA training program. The handbook provides templates, workbooks, budgets, and guides for engaging administrators, instructors, and students, and support in creating a sustainable high school program. It will also help you locate community resources that may provide students with training opportunities to receive their 480 hours of work experience. Digitally formatted, it is a comprehensive framework for informed planning and establishment of the CDA as a competency-based pathway to college and career readiness.

High School CDA® CTE Coaching, Training & Technical Assistance

Should you have questions about the Council’s High School Handbook and/or implementing a High School Child Development Associate (CDA) Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, please complete the below form to request coaching, training and/or technical assistance:

The CDA can be the first step toward an Early Childhood Education (ECE) career for high school students!

For High School Students

If you’re a student interested in working in early childhood education, earning a CDA can help you get a job in the field by the time you leave high school and help you earn college credit towards your AA or Bachelor’s degree.

Some of the benefits of earning a CDA include:

  • Graduate high school career-ready with the nationally recognized CDA Credential
  • Jumpstart your higher education with core knowledge of child development
  • Gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence to work with young children
  • Acquire valuable skills and competencies early childhood employers want
  • Earn college credit while still in high school

Free Webinars

Official Launch of the Handbook for High School: A Guide to Advocacy and Implementation (April 14, 2021)

Official Launch of the High School CDA/CTE Technical and Training Assistance (May 25, 2022)

Additional State Resources

Every state has some form of Career and Technical Education Program.