Just as all child care programs are different, the requirements for professionals within these programs may vary. Talk with your center about their policies and also check our state resources page for links to your state's early learning agencies for requirements in your state.

While not all positions require post-secondary education, adding new knowledge and skills can be a great way to grow your career. One of the opportunities for advanced achievement for childcare professionals is the Child Development Associate® Credentials, often referred to as the CDA. 

The Council for Professional Recognition, commonly known as the CDA Council, administers the Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential. The CDA Program is designed to assess and credential early childhood education professionals.

The CDA Program is a tool for professionals who work in all types of early care and education programs: Head Start, pre-k, infant/toddler, family child care, and home visitor programs. 

The CDA Council's Credentialing Process Overview highlights the steps involved in earning your CDA. To date, more than 370,000 child care professionals have earned their CDA credentials, with approximately 18,000 new credentials being awarded each year.


What are the benefits of earning a CDA?

The Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education (ECE) and is a key stepping stone on the path of career advancement in ECE.

What does this mean for you?

  1. Advance your career – additional education and credentialing could open doors and take you to the next step in your career path! You may also be eligible to receive college credits by earning your CDA.
  2. Earn more money – who wouldn’t like to earn more money? With additional career opportunities, your earning power will continue to grow!
  3. Gain more confidence – knowing more about the early learning field can certainly help make you feel more confident working with children as well as speaking with parents, which can help put parents’ minds at ease too!
  4. Increase your knowledge – in such a broad and complex field, the learning never stops, from behavior management to good nutrition. And what could be more important than teaching tomorrow’s leaders!
  5. Great pricing from SafeGard Classes Online – our complete 120-hour CDA package is just $399.  Or, if you’ve already earned your CDA and need to renew, our 45-hour package is only $199!  We also offer discounts for Head Start professionals.


Many teachers find that having earned their CDA actually makes them a better teacher.  Watch this inspiring video about several teachers’ experience with the CDA.

This white paper from the CDA Council also provides great information about why early childhood education is important and how the CDA contributes to developing well-trained educators.


So, what are you waiting for?  Get started today!