A Practical Guide to Understanding the CDA Process

 Candidates Seeking to Qualify for a CDA  Must Complete the Following Requirements:

  • Having a high school diploma,

  • Complete 120 hours of formal child care education, 

  • Complete a professional portfolio,

  • Arragne for a verification visit

  • Coordinate a visit with an approved PD Specialist 

  • Complete your final CDA exam.

1. To prepare for your CDA, you must satisfy these requirements:

  • Hold a high school diploma or equivalent (GED), or be a junior or senior in a high school vocational program in early education.

  • Be able to speak, read, and write well enough to perform the responsibilities of a CDA.

  • Complete 120 clock hours of formal childcare training.

  • Have 480 hours of professional work experience (paid or volunteer) in a group setting with children aged birth through 5 years within 3 years of submitting your CDA application.

  • Develop a Professional Portfolio (within 6 months of application) that includes: Family Questionnaires, Resource Collection items, Reflective Statements of Competence, and a Personal Philosophy Statement.


2. To apply for your CDA, you must:

  • Find a Professional Development Specialist at www.cdacouncil.org/findapds (or call the Council for assistance) and get his/ her ID number.

  • Complete the CDA application (in the Competency Standards book).

  • Submit your application and fee ($425) to the Council.

  • Once you have completed the steps above, schedule your Verification Visit and CDA Exam.

  • And finally, await the council's decision as they review your Cumulative Score from the Verification Visit and the CDA Exam.