Preschool Teacher Requirements: Degrees, State Certification and National Credentials

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Abandon whatever preconceived notions you may have about preschool teachers, as these early educators do far more than serve snacks and supervise nap time (although these tasks are often part and parcel of a preschool teacher’s duties).

Preschool teachers create the foundation upon which all future learning will occur.

Sounds rather profound, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. The work of preschool teachers is both meaningful and valuable. After all, our nation relies on them to prepare our earliest learners for a lifetime of learning and discovery.

Today, preschool teachers in public school settings must:

  • Meet Education Requirements: Complete an approved teacher preparation program.
  • Pass State/National Competency Examination(s): Demonstrate their knowledge of early childhood education.
  • Earn a State Teaching License/Certification: Earn certification through their state board of education.

Preschool teachers nurture and educate young children, usually from the ages of 2 to 5, fostering their social and emotional development and cultivating a creative and supportive learning environment where the learning process can thrive.

To be able to succeed in their endeavor, they must practice with a comprehensive post-secondary education in early childhood education or a similar field under their belt.

Most teaching degrees are completed as part of an approved teacher preparation program, which also includes field experiences and a student teaching experience.

Improving the Quality of Pre-K Programs Through Better Teacher Preparation

Although a certificate program or associate’s degree is still accepted to work as a preschool teacher in parts of the country and in numerous settings, there has been a clear push to require preschool teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in early childhood education. And it only makes sense, considering that a bachelor’s degree has long been a standard minimum educational requirement for K-12 teachers.

According to Susan K. Urahn, Managing Director of the Pew Center on the States, “When teachers hold a bachelor’s degree and have specialized training in early childhood education, they are better able to support children’s healthy development and school readiness.”

Likewise, a 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council wrote that all teachers in the nation’s preschools should have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development or early education.

Victor Dzau, president of the Institute of Medicine, said that the education provided to many of our nation’s preschoolers is “lagging behind the current science,” urging those who fund preschool programs to recognize the importance of educating young children.

The Inconsistencies and Disparities in Education Requirements

But educational requirements for preschool teachers remains largely inconsistent, particularly because preschool programs can be funded at the federal, state, or local level – and all may have their own requirements.

According to a June 2016 report by the National Council on Teacher Quality, Piecing Together the Preparation Preschool Teachers Need:

  • As of September 2013, the nation’s Head Start program required at least half of all Head Start teachers nationwide to hold a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related major.
  • All but 9 states offer some state-funded preschool programs, but all have different criteria for teachers:
    • 33 state-funded preschool programs in 27 states require all preschool teachers to have a bachelor’s degree
    • 12 programs in 10 states require an associate’s degree, Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, or a similar credential
    • 12 programs in 10 states require a bachelor’s degree for teachers in public settings, but not for teachers in non-public school settings

To further add to the confusion, the report also found:

  • Some states, like Kansas, require preschool teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree, but not necessarily in an early childhood specialization.
  • Some states, like Ohio and Washington State, require a degree in early childhood development, but it does not need to be at the bachelor’s degree level.
  • Pennsylvania has no less than four state-funded preschool programs: one requires a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in early childhood; one requires a bachelor’s degree but does not require a specialization in early childhood; one requires an associate’s degree; and one requires a bachelor’s degree for those teaching in public settings and an associate’s degree for those teaching in non-public settings.

A State-by-State Look at Preschool Teacher Education Requirements

There is little uniformity from one state to the next when it comes to preschool teacher education requirements in public school settings:


Alabama

Lead teachers: Must complete one of the following:

  • A human environmental science degree with a concentration in early childhood development or child development
  • A special education degree in early childhood with a minimum of 18 credit hours in early childhood/child development coursework
  • Early childhood education degree (BS, BA, MA, or MS)

Auxiliary teachers: Must complete all of the following:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • A Child Development Associate Credential (CDA) or at least 9 credit hours of college coursework in early childhood education or child development from a regionally accredited institution
  • At least 12 months of experience working in early childhood settings or in other OSR-approved settings


Alaska

Complete an Approved Teacher Education Program, which includes an undergraduate or graduate education and a student teaching experience.


Arizona

Complete a teacher preparation program approved by the Arizona State Board of Education at the undergraduate and graduate level or a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited university or college, along with at least 37 semester hours of early childhood education courses and at least 8 practicum semester hours.


Arkansas

Complete an approved licensure preparation programs, which includes a bachelor’s degree or higher, pedagogy requirements, and a student teaching experience, or an Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure (APPEL) program, for candidates who already possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university.


California

Complete one of two pathways:

Pathway 1: Earn a CTC Child Development Permit

Child Development Assistant Permit

  • Complete at least 6 semester units in early childhood education or child development; OR
  • Complete an approved Home Economics and Related Occupations (HERO) or Regional Occupation Program (ROP) in Child Development Related Occupations

Child Development Associate Teacher Permit

  • Complete at least 12 semester units of coursework in early childhood education or child development and at least 50 days of work experience in a childcare program; OR
  • Possess a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential

Child Development Teacher Permit

  • Complete at least 24 semester units of coursework in child development or early childhood education, at least 16 semester units in general education, and at least 175 days of experience in a childcare and development program; OR
  • Complete an associate’s degree or higher in early childhood education or child development or a related field and at least three units of supervised field experience in an early childhood education setting

Pathway 2: Earn a K-12 Teacher Credential

Complete and approved teacher preparation program, which combines an undergraduate or graduate degree program and pedagogy and student teaching components.


Colorado

Complete one of the following:

  • A four-year bachelor’s degree in one of the following:
    • Early childhood education
    • Elementary education
    • Special education
    • Family and child development
    • Child psychology; OR
  • A bachelor’s degree in an unrelated area, AND:
    • At least 2 early childhood education college courses with at least one course being introduction to early childhood education or guidance strategies; AND
    • At least 6 months of verified experience in the care and supervision of four or more children under the age of 6 (teacher’s aide, teacher in a childcare center, elementary school, or preschool); OR
  • An associate’s degree in early childhood education, which must include at least 2 early childhood education college courses with at least one course being introduction to early childhood education or guidance strategies; AND
    • At least 6 months of verified experience in the care and supervision of four or more children under the age of 6 (teacher’s aide, teacher in a childcare center, elementary school, or preschool); OR
  • At least 12 semester hours of early childhood credits at the college-level; AND
  • At least 9 months of verified experience in the care and supervision of four or more children under the age of 6 (teacher’s aide, teacher in a childcare center, elementary school, or preschool); OR
  • A vocational or occupational education sequence in child growth and development; AND
    • At least 12 months of verified experience in the care and supervision of four or more children under the age of 6 (teacher’s aide, teacher in a childcare center, elementary school, or preschool); OR
  • A Department-approved course of training that includes training and work experience with children in a child growth and development program; OR
  • A current certification as a Certified Child Care Professional (CCP) or a Child Development Associate (CDA); OR
  • A current Colorado Level I credential or at least two courses in early childhood education from a regionally accredited college or university, with at least one course being in introduction to early childhood education or guidance strategies; AND
    • At least 24 months of verified experience in the care and supervision of four or more children under the age of 6 (teacher’s aide, teacher in a childcare center, elementary school, or preschool)


Connecticut

Complete:

  • A State-approved educator preparation program at either the undergraduate or graduate level; OR
  • An Alternative Route to Certification Program for candidates who have already completed a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and have met specific course requirements


Delaware

Complete:

  • An approved educator preparation program a student teaching program that is at least 91 days long; approved educator program must:
    • Be offered through a regionally accredited four-year college or university
    • Be accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) or the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC)
  • Result in an initial educator (certificate) program; OR
  • A State Alternative Route to Teacher Licensure and Certification program for candidates who have completed a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university in a major related to early childhood education, which must include at least 30 credit hours in early childhood education


District of Columbia

Complete an approved teacher preparation program in early childhood education (recognized as Pre-K-Grade 3) approved by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education at the bachelor’s or graduate degree level


Florida

Complete an approved teacher education program, which consists of a bachelor’s degree or higher and all necessary requirements.


Georgia

Complete a Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) approved educator preparation program, which includes a bachelor’s degree or higher.

OR

Complete a degree in psychology or social work, provided it includes at least ONE of the following:

  • An associate degree with a major in early childhood education
  • A Montessori diploma
  • A technical college diploma (TCD) with an ECE major
  • A technical certificate of credit (TCC) with an ECE major
  • A Child Development Associate (CDA) credential


Hawaii

Complete an approved teacher preparation program at the undergraduate (bachelor’s degree) level, the graduate level (M.A.T., M.Ed.), or the post-baccalaureate (post-bachelor’s certificate) level.


Idaho

Complete an Idaho State Board of Education-approved teacher preparation program that includes the following:

    • At least 30 semester credits hours (45 quarter credit hours) in psychological, methodological, and philosophical foundations; in the professional subject matter of early childhood and early childhood special education; and in instructional technology
    • The professional subject matter of early childhood and early childhood special education must include work specific to young children from birth through grade 3 in the areas of:
      • Application of technologies
      • Assessment and evaluation
      • Child development and learning
      • Curriculum development and implementation
      • Family and community relationships
      • Professionalism


Illinois

Complete a state-approved preparation program that results in a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and:

  • At least 32 semester hours in the early childhood education content area
  • A student teaching (or equivalent) teaching experience
  • At least 3 semester hours in Cross-Categorical Methods of the Exceptional Child
  • At least 6 semester hours in Methods of Teaching Reading and reading in the content area
  • At least 3 semester hours in ESL/bilingual methods


Indiana

Complete an approved teacher preparation program that results in a minimum of a bachelor’s degree; candidates who have already completed a bachelor’s degree may complete a teacher preparation program that culminates in a master’s degree or post-baccalaureate (non-degree) certificate.


Iowa

Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and an approved educator preparation program


Kansas

Complete an approved in-state educator preparation program at the bachelor’s level or higher.


Kentucky

Complete at least a bachelor’s degree and a teacher preparation program approved by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board


Louisiana

Complete an approved teacher preparation program at the bachelor’s degree or above

May also complete one of the following certification routes:

  • Practitioner Teacher Program – Allows you to teach full-time while completing approved coursework in Early Childhood Education
  • Master’s Degree Program – Allows you to pursue a master’s degree through approved coursework while seeking teacher certification in Early Childhood Education. You may also opt to teach under a Practitioner Certificate 3 while completing this program.
  • Certification Only Program–  Allows you to complete approved certification courses in Early Childhood Education face-to-face or online. You must teach under a Practitioner Certificate 2 after completing classroom readiness training and while completing the remainder of your certification course requirements.


Maine

Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and an approved teacher education program; candidates may also qualify if they already completed a bachelor’s degree; requirements include:

  • Liberal arts English (3 semester hours)
  • Liberal arts math (3 semester hours)
  • Liberal arts science
  • Liberal arts social studies
  • 3 semester hours of teaching early childhood special education
  • 3 semester hours in children’s literature
  • 3 semester hours of language development and early literacy
  • 3 semester hours in numeracy for young children
  • 3 semester hours in child development/developmental psychology
  • 3 semester hours in science for young children
  • 3 semester hours in infant/toddler development
  • 6 semester hours in two of the following areas:
    • Additional early literacy
    • Early learning environments
    • Advanced child development
    • Social studies for the young child
    • Assessment of young children
    • Observation of young children
    • Family studies
    • Creative arts


Maryland

Complete a bachelor’s degree and approved teacher preparation program; candidates may also qualify if they possess:

  • Minimum of a bachelor’s degree with a major in either interdisciplinary studies or an academic field taught in early childhood education, including:
    • 12 semester hours of courses in science and math
    • 9 semester hours of courses in social studies and English; OR
  • Minimum of a bachelor’s degree and 48 hours of course work in a content field including:
    • 12 semester hours of courses in science and math
    • 9 semester hours of courses in social studies and English

AND 72 hours of coursework at the early childhood level in:

  • Human learning
  • Child development
  • Inclusion of special needs students
  • Teaching methodology
  • Processes and acquiring reading skills
  • Assessing students
  • Materials for teaching reading to perform a task, read for information, and gain literary experience
  • Use of reading assessment data to improve teaching
  • Best practices in reading instruction

Massachusetts

Complete a bachelor’s degree and an approved educator preparation program or an educator preparation program in a state other than Massachusetts, provided it is a member of the NASDTEC Interstate Contract or is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.


Michigan

Complete a state-approved teacher preparation program that includes a minimum of a bachelor’s degree program that includes pedagogy coursework and a student teaching experience.


Minnesota

Complete a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved early childhood education certification program; preschool teacher candidates in a Minnesota Head Start program must have at least an associate’s degree.


Mississippi

Complete a bachelor’s degree or higher in child development from a regionally/nationally accredited institution of higher learning and with official verification of program accreditation by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences or the National Association for Education of Young Children.


Missouri

Complete a bachelor’s degree through a state-approved professional education program


Montana

Montana’s Department of Education does not license pre-K teachers and imposes no direct educational requirements. However, the state does regulate state-regulated childcare centers, according to the type and size of facility. Some of the common requirements for preschool teachers working in childcare centers include the CDA credential or an associate or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field.


Nebraska

Complete a State-approved educator preparation program in Early Childhood Education (PK-3), Early Childhood Inclusive (B-3), or Early Childhood Special Education (B-K) at the bachelor’s level or higher.


Nevada

Complete one of the following:

  • An approved teacher education programin early childhood education at either the bachelor’s or master’s degree level
  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and at least 35 semester hours of courses in early childhood education for children who are developing both typically and atypically
  • The Alternative Routes to Licensure (ARL) program; to qualify, you must:
  • Be accepted into an alternative route to licensure program through a qualified provider
  • Possess a bachelor’s degree from a postsecondary institution that is regionally accredited
  • Pass a competency examination in basic reading, writing, and mathematics
  • Hold a major or minor in early childhood education


New Hampshire

Complete a professional educator preparation program that includes a bachelor’s degree or higher


New Jersey

Complete a bachelor’s degree with a major in the liberal arts or sciences and a state-approved teacher preparation program.


New Mexico

Complete one of the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and 36 to 42 semester hours of credit in an approved Early Childhood Education program; OR
  • At least three years of verified work experience at an accredited childcare center, working with at least two age groups; OR
  • Complete the Alternative Licensure Program, which includes teaching under an Internship License to gain experience while completing the licensure program and examination requirements; OR
  • Complete the Online Portfolio for Alternative Licensure (OPAL) route, which includes completing a bachelor’s degree or higher, taking a 6-credit course in teaching reading, teaching for a year under an Internship License, and completing an online portfolio that demonstrates competency; OR
  • Complete the Post-Secondary Experienced Teacher route, which requires a master’s degree with 12 graduate hours in early childhood OR a doctoral degree in early childhood; candidates must:
  • Verify five years of post-secondary level teaching experience
  • Complete a 6-credit course in teaching reading
  • Teach for a full school year as the Teacher of Record for a classroom (under an Internship License)


New York

Complete one of the following:

  • A New York State registered teacher preparation program in Early Childhood Education and a bachelor’s degree (minimum).
  • An alternative teacher certification program in Early Childhood while teaching under a Transitional B certificate.
  • Candidates for those who are already certified to teach one subject/grade in New York and seek additional certification in Early Childhood:
    • Complete a New York approved teacher preparation program
    • Complete the following college coursework:
      • 6 semester hours in Concepts in Historical and Social Sciences
      • 6 semester hours in Scientific Processes
      • 6 semester hours in Mathematical Processes
      • 6 semester hours in Student Developmental Level – Birth to Grade 2
      • 3 semester hours in Teaching Literacy Skills Methods
  • Candidates who already hold a comparable, approved teacher preparation program in Early Childhood education in another state and hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA (undergraduate) of 2.5.
  • Candidates who already hold a valid, comparable teaching certificate in another state or county, have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA of 2.5 (undergraduate), and have three years of paid, full-time early childhood education classroom teaching experience
  • Candidates who hold a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certificate as an Early Childhood Generalist and have a bachelor’s degree (minimum)


North Carolina

  • Public School Setting: Complete a B-K preparation programat the bachelor’s degree or higher (public school setting)
  • Non-Public School Setting: Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in early childhood, child development, or a related field, such as:
    • Human development and family studies
    • Elementary education
    • Psychology


North Dakota

Complete an approved educator preparation program, which includes a bachelor’s degree or higher and all necessary pedagogy and student teaching requirements.


Ohio

Complete an approved teacher preparation program in early childhood education (P-3), at a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Candidates may also pursue the Pre-K associate license if they do not plan to teach outside of the preschool setting. The associate license requires the completion of an associate’s degree and allows candidates to teach only pre-k, instead of the early childhood teaching license in Ohio that allows candidates to teach preschool to grade 3.


Oklahoma

Complete a teacher education program approved by the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation (OCTP). Candidates may also qualify through the Department’s Alternative Placement Program if they possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university in early childhood education or a related degree.


Oregon

Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and a teacher preparation program in early childhood education.


Pennsylvania

Candidates who teach under the authority of the State Board of Private Academic Schools must complete at least a bachelor’s degree.


Rhode Island

Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree as part of an approve pedagogical preparation program for early childhood education teachers.


South Carolina

Complete, at a minimum, an associate’s degree in early childhood education or a closely related field, and demonstrate enrollment, as well as progress, towards the completion of a teacher education program.


South Dakota

Earn a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education as part of a teacher preparation program.


Tennessee

Complete a bachelor’s degree and educator preparation program in early childhood education.


Texas

Complete an approved teacher preparation program in early childhood education.


Utah

Complete an associate’s degree or higher in early childhood education.


Vermont

Earn a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development or a closely related field as part of an approved teacher preparation program.


Virginia

Complete a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education as part of an educator preparation program.


Washington

Earn an associate’s degree or higher to become a lead preschool teacher.


West Virginia

Earn a bachelor’s degree or higher as part of an approved educator preparation program in early education.


Wisconsin

Must have 80 days of experience working with preschool-aged children and at least one of the following:

  • Two not-for-credit courses in early childhood education
  • Two college-credit courses in the field of early childhood education from an accredited college or university
  • Earn aPreschool Credential from The Registry, Wisconsin’s recognition system for childhood education
  • 48 college credits, with at least three credits in the field of early childhood education
  • A one-year diploma in child care from an institute of higher education
  • An associate’s degree in early childhood education or child care
  • AChild Development Associate (CDA) credential from the Council for Professional Recognition
  • A certificate from:
    • Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education
    • Association Montessori International
    • American Montessori Society
  • Bachelor’s degree in education
  • Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction teaching license
  • Certificate as a Child Development Specialist from theWisconsin Bureau of Apprenticeship


Wyoming

Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and complete a teaching preparation program for early childhood educators.

Earning a Bachelor’s Degree

Although educational requirements for preschool teachers still vary from state to state and even program to program, a bachelor’s degree in early childhood learning or a closely related area is standard preparation for teaching in any setting, increase your earning potential, and meet professional development requirements.

Furthermore, it generally takes a four-year bachelor’s program at minimum to include all the pedagogic curriculum of a state-approved teacher preparation program.

A bachelor’s degree in education with a specialization in early childhood or early childhood education learning includes four-years of full-time study and about 120 credits. They may be designed as Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) programs, covering early childhood-specific topics like education psychology, child development, and curriculum design.

Relevant coursework includes:

  • Assessing, monitoring, and reporting of young children
  • Early Childhood Curriculum and Methods
  • Child growth and development
  • Child guidance and classroom management
  • Family, child, cultural, and community relationships
  • Developmentally appropriate methodologies for teaching math, science, language, social studies, and the arts
  • Foundations of early childhood education

The bachelor’s degree will also include relevant field experiences and student teaching to prepare you for becoming an early childhood educator.

Getting Started with an Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree in early childhood education is often acceptable as an entry-level requirement for preschool teacher assistants and aides in most public and private preschools. These degrees are designed as Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Arts (AA) degrees and consist of about two years of full-time study and 60 credits.

Associate degree programs allow students to develop their knowledge of early childhood education through courses that cover pedagogical content and the implementation of instructional strategies for pre-k students.

Pass the Required State/National Competency Examination(s)

Upon completion of a teacher preparation program or other approved alternative pathway, you must take and pass the required state or national competency examination(s) to demonstrate your early childhood subject matter competence.

For example, in California, you must take and pass the California Subjects Examination for Teachers (CSET) Multiple-Subject, which consists of three subtests:

  • Physical Education, Human Development, and Visual and Performing Arts
  • Reading, Language, and Literature and History and Social Science
  • Science and Mathematics

Other states, such as Illinois, defer to the Praxis examination. Depending on your state, you may be required to take basic skills examinations and content examinations:

Basic Skills Examinations:

  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics

Content Examinations:

Praxis Early Childhood: Content Knowledge examination: Designed to assess your knowledge of early childhood education in the following content areas:

  • Language and literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Social studies
  • Science
  • Health and physical education
  • Creating and performing arts

Praxis Prekindergarten Education examination: Designed to assess your knowledge of both pedagogy and content in the following areas:

  • Early childhood development
  • Teaching and supporting diverse children
  • Creating a developmentally appropriate learning environment
  • Teaching and learning
  • Professionalism, family, and community

Praxis Special Education: Preschool/Early Childhood examination: Designed to measure your skills, abilities, and standards-related knowledge of early childhood special education teachers in the following areas:

  • Development and characteristics of learners
  • IFSP/IEP development and delivery of services and assessment and eligibility
  • Planning and managing the teaching and learning environment
  • Family, community, and professional relationships

Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood examination: Designed to assess your knowledge of the career of an early childhood teacher in the following areas:

  • Students as Learners
  • Instructional Process
  • Assessment
  • Professional development, leadership, and community

Praxis Education of Young Children examination: Designed to assess your knowledge of young children, from birth to age 8, in the following areas:

  • Early childhood development
  • Teaching and supporting diverse children
  • Creating a developmentally appropriate learning environment
  • Teaching and learning
  • Professionalism, family, and community
  • Demonstrating knowledge of teaching

Educational Testing Service (ETS) proctors all Praxis examinations at ETS testing centers throughout the U.S.

Earn a State Teaching Certification

After you have completed all education and experience requirements (if any) and passed the required competency examination(s), you must earn your state teaching credential through your state board of education if you teach in a public school setting. You must maintain it through the completion of specific continuing education requirements.

Non-Degree Credentials for Early Childhood Educators

Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential Some employers require preschool teachers or teacher assistants to possess the Preschool Child Development Associate (CDA) credential through the Council for Professional Recognition.

To earn the Preschool CDA credential, you must:

  • Complete at least 120 hours of formal early childhood education training that covers the growth and development of children ages 3 to 5, with no fewer than 10 training hours in each of the following eight CDA subject areas:
    • Planning a safe and healthy environment in which to learn
    • Advancing the physical and intellectual development of children
    • Supporting the social and emotional development of children
    • Building productive relationships with families
    • Managing preschool programs effectively
    • Make the commitment to professional conduct
    • Observing and recording the behavior of young learners
    • Understanding the principles of child development and learning

Within 6 months of submitting your application, you must prepare your CDA Professional Portfolio, a collection of reference materials related to your work.

Within 3 years of submitting your application, you must complete at least 480 hours of professional work experience in a center-based setting with children ages 3-5 years old.

After applying for the CDA, you will receive a Ready to Schedule notification informing you that you are ready to schedule your CDA Verification Visit and CDA exam. CDA exams are scheduled through Pearson VUE.

The CDA is valid for a period of 3 years. You must provide proof of training in the eight subject areas related to your CDA credential for renewal. You can choose one of the following types of training for the preschool setting:

  • 5 continuing education units (CEUs)
  • One 3-hour credit-hour course
  • 45 clock hours of training in early childhood development

Child Care Professional (CCP) Credential – The Child Care Professional (CCP) credential, which is offered through the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation, is earned through the completion of:

  • 720 hours of childcare experience serving children between birth and 6 years of age within the last 5 years in a licensed, center-based early childhood program
  • 180 hours of education/training
  • The National Early Childhood Education specialist credentialing examination
  • A professional development portfolio
  • Performance-based observation assessment
  • Two parent evaluations
  • Two letters of endorsement

The process of earning a CCP credential includes:

  • Choosing a CCP Field Counselor who will provide you with guidance, mentorship, and observational assessment (View CCP field counselor requirements here.)
  • Purchasing and completing the CCP Enrollment Packet
  • Submitting the CCP Observation and Request form a, all CCP enrollment packet materials and the $470 fee
  • Completing the CCP Exam (Your CCP Field Counselor will proctor it.)

Upon passing the examination, you will earn the CCP credential, which is valid for 2 years upon the completion of 24 clock hours of continuing education. Your continuing education must relate to the CCP’s nine professional ability areas:

  • Learning environment
  • Curriculum
  • Child development
  • Assessing and planning
  • Health and safety
  • Professional development

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