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Five Things You Need to Know About the Child Development Associate Credential


As Child Care Aware of Minnesota’s Workforce Advising Coordinator, I hear just about every question about the Child Development Associate (CDA). What is it? Is it necessary? Is it beneficial to my career? Does it count towards my higher education degree? Here are the five things everyone should know about the CDA:

  1. The basics. Candidates who earn a CDA have met the following requirements: 120 hours of professional training, completion of a professional portfolio, 480 hours of work experience in a specific setting, a verification visit, and an exam.
  2. What it does. The CDA is an early step in a professional’s career growth – the best first step! The credential can open doors for aspiring early childhood professionals who are newer to the field, whether they are recent high school graduates or educators who have just made a career switch. It can increase a professional’s earning power as a lead or assistant teacher.
  3. Connections to Higher Education. Those who earn their CDA gain indispensable professional skills – putting the portfolio together and being accountable for 120 hours (often a full year) of coursework is significant. These skills can help pave the way towards a post-secondary certificate or degree. However, a CDA is not equivalent to a bachelor or associate degree, and not all Minnesota colleges accept the CDA as eligible for credits.
  4. Help is available. Child Care Aware of Minnesota has a CDA Awards program where CDA candidates can apply to receive an assessment fee award ($425), a training reimbursement award ($600), or funding towards a one-time CDA renewal. These awards are given quarterly. Professional Development Advisors throughout the state are available to offer guidance.
  5. How to join a learning community. Minnesota recently revamped its own CDA curriculum. Beginning in January 2019, early childhood professionals can participate in low-cost Minnesota CDA Learning Communities, available all over the state and online. In April, Minnesota Infant & Toddler CDA Learning Communities will also be available.

Let me know if you’re ready to make moves towards your best first step!