Before you decide if caring for youngsters, teaching preschool or even running a daycare center is really what you want to do, you need to know the path it takes to get there. Many that have launched a career in early childhood education (ECE) took the same first step: earning a child development associate (CDA) credential.
The CDA credential covers many of the components that research and subject-matter experts have deemed critical in both ECE curriculum and experience. Since 1975, this credential has stood as the foundation of professional development in the ECE field and is made more valuable by its national recognition and adaptability to any young children program.
Keep reading to learn more about what it takes to earn your CDA credential and how it can benefit your future as an early childhood professional.
Facts about the CDA
- The CDA includes 120 hours of professional education in early childhood development and 480 hours of work experience along with a professional portfolio. Often times, these requirements can fulfill close to a semester’s worth of credits in an ECE degree program.
- The credentialing assessment for the CDA can be conducted in any language that a teacher’s daily work requires. This means if you’re not only interested in working with children, but have thought working in a Spanish or French immersion program, the CDA will accommodate these goals.
- The credentialing process also values parental involvement. Studies have shown that the influence of a young child’s parents on their education is incredibly important. Therefore, a CDA candidate’s portfolio will include feedback from the parents of children with whom the candidate worked during the training process.
- The program incorporates direct observation of a CDA candidate by a council professional development specialist. This may seem a bit nerve-wracking, but it will give you more credibility and confidence knowing you were observed and approved by an ECE expert.
Why earn a CDA?
Now that you know a bit more about the details involved in earning your CDA credential, you’re probably wondering, “Is it really worth it?”
In a nutshell, the answer is YES! But don’t take our word for it; we enlisted Rasmussen College Dean of Education Mary Muhs to weigh in on the importance of earning this credential. Read up on some of the benefits of acquiring a CDA credential.
The CDA requires you to not only learn about ECE best practices, but also gain hands-on experience and valuable feedback from expert observers. After being armed with this knowledge and experience, imagine the confidence you’ll have walking into a classroom full of kiddos.
“The CDA credential shows that you already know so much about quality child care and education before setting forth into a more formal higher education degree,” says Muhs. ”It gives you encouragement and a step up!
In the past, the ECE field kind of flew under the radar. However, today more and more research reveals the importance of education for children in the earliest stages of their development. As this research increases, so does the demand for accredited and competent individuals with both academic training and applicable experience.
Muhs explains that while a CDA may not always be required, it holds great value. The fact that the credential is recognized nationwide, it can serve an individual well in the future. “It is highly respected and shows that you are committed to quality programs for children,” Muhs adds.
Perhaps you’re hoping that your teaching or childcare experience acts as a stepping stone towards a more advanced ECE career. The good news is the CDA is not a dead end. Think of it as more of a ticket into the ECE world. Once you get your foot in the door and start gaining valuable experience, there’s no telling where you might end up.
If you decide to advance your education further in the future, many degree programs will offer credits for CDA certified individuals. “We know the importance of the CDA as the foundation for future education,” Muhs says. Because of this, Rasmussen College allows up to 12 credits to be waived for verification of a current CDA credential.
Take a step toward success
You’ve read up on the value and relevancy of the CDA, but that is really just the beginning. If you want to know how you can acquire your CDA credential and earn a degree, check out Rasmussen College’s early childhood education associates degree page to learn more.