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How do I get a Preschool CDA?

Learn about the CDA Credentialing process by taking our free online CDA tutorial

 CDA 101: A Practical Guide to Understanding the CDA Process

The CDA process has several steps. Care Courses can help. The training portion can be completed with Care Courses, and our specialists can answer questions about all of the steps. Confused? Contact us at 1-800-685-7610 or send an email to: for help with your CDA or CDA decisions.

1. To prepare for your CDA, you must satisfy these requirements:
  • Hold a high school diploma, or equivalent, or are 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 (specific to the credential type).
  • Have 480 hours of experience (volunteer or paid) working in a center-based setting with children ages 3 to 5 years, within 3 years prior to submitting your CDA application.
  • Purchase a CDA Competency Standards book from the Council: Choose the book specific to the setting for which you wish to apply (Family Child Care, Infant/Toddler Center-Based, or Preschool Center-Based). Read the CDA Competency Standards book carefully. We recommend that you order this book from the Council as soon as possible.
  • Develop a Professional Portfolio (within 6 months prior to submitting your CDA application) that includes: Family Questionnaires, Resource Collection items, Reflective Statements of Competence, and a Personal Philosophy Statement. The Professional Portfolio also requires proof of a first aid course and infant/child (pediatric) CPR course offered by a nationally-recognized training organization such as the American Red Cross. You can use our How to Create Your Professional Portfolio video to assist you.
2. To apply for your CDA, you must:
  • Find a Professional Development Specialist in your area using the Find a PD Specialist link on the Council’s website, and get his/her ID number.
  • Submit your CDA application online at ($425) or submit by mail to the Council ($500).

3. Once you have completed the steps above, await the Council’s Ready to Schedule notification and then schedule your Verification Visit and CDA Exam.

4. And finally, await the Council’s decision as they review your Cumulative Score from the Verification Visit and the CDA Exam.

Are you ready to start your Preschool CDA? Start your CDA classes today!