How Long Does It Take to Get a CDA Credential?

how long does it take to get a cda credential

A Child Care Development Associate Credential (or CDA) is awarded by a national organization called the Council for Professional Recognition sponsors.  This prestigious certification is recognized worldwide, and proves you have the skills, knowledge, and experience to be a successful early childhood care provider.

One of the biggest questions for those seeking this certificate is, “How long does it take to get a CDA credential?”, and for good reason.

As an adult, the thought of going back to a fulltime schooling program, on top of your job and other responsibilities can seem like an overwhelming task, however, it doesn’t need to be!

The short answer to “how long does it take to get a CDA credential?” is that a CDA is accepted as the equivalent of 12 months (or 480 hours) of teaching experience in an early childhood education setting, plus six college semester hours in child-related courses.

The long answer is a bit more complex, and that’s what we will be discussing in this article.

We will dive into what factors can affect the answer to “how long does it take to get a CDA credential?”, such as scheduling, taking your exam, and preparing for your exam, so that you can find the quickest, most straightforward path to receiving your certification.

How Long Does It Take to Get a CDA Credential?  –  Your First Steps

Before you start the process for receiving your CDA, there are some pre-requisites you should be familiar with.  Firstly, your training depends on which track you’re choosing, these include:

  • Center-Based Preschool
  • Center-Based Infant-Toddler
  • Family Child Care
  • Home Visitor

No matter which track you choose, it will cover eight different areas of education that you must be acutely familiar with before applying for your CDA.

These include:

  • Planning a safe and healthy learning environment for the children
  • Advancing the children’s physical and intellectual development
  • Supporting the social and emotional development of the children
  • Building productive relationships with the children’s families
  • Managing an effective program operation.
  • Maintaining a commitment to professionalism
  • Observing and recording children’s behavior.
  • Understanding the principles of child development and learning.

While slight variations exist between the chosen programs, the answer to “how long does it take to get a CDA certificate?” remains about the same in most instances.

Prerequisites for your exam include a high school diploma, GED, or upperclassman status in high school.  Additionally, as previously discussed 480 teaching hours, plus six college semester hours in early-childhood education related courses.

Finally, those aspiring to receive their CDA must complete the family questionnaires and portfolio on the CDA website.

You can locate step-by-step information on the Child Care Aware® of Missouri website which will help you with completing your questionnaires and your CDA portfolio.

Depending on how quickly you can prepare for and pass your exam, earning your CDA credential could take anywhere from a few months to a year or more, however, this time investment is often worth it in the long run, as a CDA credential can help you gain greater recognition and credibility as an early childhood educator.

How Long Does It Take to Get a CDA Credential? – Potential Causes of Delay

One potential reason it could take you longer to get your CDA credential than the average is due to the number of required hours of professional development (PD) you require for credentialing in Missouri.

To qualify for the CDA credential, candidates must complete at least 120 hours of professional development.  While there are several ways to meet this requirement, many candidates choose to attend workshops and training sessions offered by the Council for Professional Recognition.

These workshops can be located all over the country but may require travel and time away from work or home.  These will also help you in maintaining your CDA credentialing after passing your CDA exam.

Another reason why your question “How long does it take to get a CDA credential?” may be longer than the average length of time to receive a CDA credential in Missouri is due to the state’s process for approving early childhood educator (ECE) programs.

Currently, there is only one program that has been approved by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). This means that aspiring CDA holders in Missouri may have to wait until additional programs are approved before they can begin their coursework.

A final reason as to why the answer to “How long does it take to get a CDA credential?” could be longer than expected in Missouri is because of the state’s stringent requirements for teacher certification.  To become a CDA holder in Missouri, candidates must also be certified teachers. This process can take time and includes meeting a variety of requirements such as passing a licensing exam and completing a preparation program.

How Long Does It Take to Get a CDA Credential – Obtaining the Necessary Training Hours

Whether you are just starting out on your path to earning your CDA credential, or you are already well on your way and looking for additional resources to help you achieve this goal, there are many options available to help make the process as streamlined and efficient as possible.

If you are ready to take the next step towards becoming a highly qualified child care provider, be sure to do your research and find the right program for your unique needs and goals.  Even though program lengths tend to remain about the same, each has it’s own unique caveats, and you should familiarize yourself with them prior to scheduling your examination.

For example, some individuals choose to pursue an online CDA training program, while others choose to enroll in longer-term on-site or in-person courses. Additionally, you may be able to earn some of your required hours through volunteer work or professional development workshops offered by local child care centers.

Other ways to obtain your necessary training hours include taking online courses, participating in workshops and conferences, and working with experienced educators who can provide guidance and support. Also, by staying up to date on the latest research and trends in early childhood education can help ensure that you are able to maintain your CDA credential over time.

Once you’ve completed the training, you’ll need to submit your application to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.  The application should include your fee and documentation of your training.

How Long Does It Take to Get a CDA Credential? Scheduling, Sitting, and Passing Your Exam

Once your application is approved, you’ll be able to take the CDA exam.  The exam has two parts: a written portion and an oral portion.  You must pass both parts to earn your credential.

Depending on how many candidates there are in your area, it may take several weeks or months before you receive confirmation of a testing date, so you should prepare yourself for the potentially scheduling delay and proceed accordingly.

Once your test appointment has been confirmed, you will need to prepare for your exam by reviewing the CDA competency standards and exam content outlines.

These materials provide important information about how the questions on the exam are structured, and how your answers will be evaluated.  In addition to studying these materials, you should also make sure that you arrive at least 30 minutes early on the day of the exam.

This will give you time to check in with the testing site staff, familiarize yourself with how to use any testing equipment or technology that is being used, and ensure that everything is in order before your scheduled start time.

Remember, the CDA credentialing exam is prestigious for a reason.  If you do not pass your exam on the first go, it’s important to remember that many people before you have had the same thing happen but have gone on to receive their credentialing after trying again.  It’s important not to lose hope, and to keep your end goal in your focus.

After you’ve passed the exam, you’ll receive your CDA credential in the mail.

How Long Does It Take to Get a CDA Credential? – What Happens After Passing Your Exam

After you have sat, and successfully passed your CDA examination, your question of “How long does it take to get a CDA credential” has for the most part, been answered, congratulations!

However, there is some wiggle room in the definition of “CDA certified.”

Some people may view CDA certification as a matter of simply passing the credentialing exam, while others may see it as a more holistic process that also includes completing training and professional development activities.

In general, however, it is generally accepted that those who pass their CDA credentialing exams have demonstrated the knowledge and skills necessary to work in early childhood education settings. As such, earning your CDA credential can be an important step toward building a successful career in this field.

How Long Does it Take to Get a CDA Credential? – Maintaining Your Credentialing

To maintain your CDA credential after passing your exam, it is important to continuously invest in your professional development. This may include enrolling in ongoing training programs or workshops, participating in professional networking groups, and keeping up with the latest research and trends in early childhood education.

Additionally, you may need to submit an annual renewal application or pass specific skill assessments as part of your ongoing certification requirements.

Whatever approach you take, staying up to date on best practices and continuing to grow as a professional will help ensure that you remain a valuable asset to any early childhood education setting.

How Long Does it Take to Get a CDA Credential? – Is it Worth the Time and Investment?

It can take anywhere from several months to a year or more to obtain your CDA credential, depending on how quickly you are able to complete the various requirements.

This may include enrolling in relevant training programs, sitting for and passing the CDA exam, participating in professional networking activities, and demonstrating continued commitment to professional growth and development.  That said, investing time and effort into earning your CDA credential is going to be worth it in the long run.  Not only does it help demonstrate your expertise as an early childhood educator, but it can also open new opportunities for advancement and higher salaries in this field.

Additionally, having a CDA credential often makes you more attractive as a job candidate, which can give you an edge over other candidates in a competitive job market. Overall, earning your CDA credential, despite how long it can take, is an important step toward building a successful career in early childhood education.

So, if you’re asking yourself currently, “how long does it take to get a CDA credential?” you may want to instead ask yourself, “Will the time I spend earning this credential benefit me, my students, and my community?”  That question will likely lead you to a more personalized answer on if sitting going through the process of CDA credentialing is for you or not.

If the answer to “how long does it take to get a CDA credential” seems a bit intimidating, remind yourself that if this is your life’s work, you’ll be going through the necessary trainings anyway, why not put them towards moving your career forward to the next level while at the same time bettering the guidance and teaching you can deliver to your students?

If you have more questions about sitting your CDA credentialing exam, or still want to ask more about “how long does it take to get a CDA credential?” the team at Child Care Aware® of Missouri are here to assist you.  Feel free to reach out to us with any question, and we will happily point you in the right direction to get you started on your path to CDA credentialing.