CDA Credential Prep

CDA Certificate Training

Whether you're looking to start a new career in childcare or already work in the field and need to earn your Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential, our online CDA Credential Prep Undergraduate Certificate can help you take the next steps! Through flexible, online classes, you'll earn the 120 formal education hours required to apply for your CDA while also building your professional portfolio.

  • Our online, college-level CDA Training Program prepares students to meet the education and professional portfolio prerequisites required to apply for the CDA Credential,  the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education.
  • After enrolling in our Online CDA Certificate Program, you'll have the opportunity to choose one of three CDA specialization tracks: infant and toddler, preschool, or family child care. 
  • Penn Foster is a partner of the Council for Professional Recognition and has earned the Council's CDA Gold Standard for its Child Development Associate (CDA) Undergraduate Certificate Training Program.
  • Graduates of the CDA certificate program earn 13 credits that can be transferrable to Penn Foster's Early Childhood Education Associate Degree.
  • Our online programs are flexible enough for you to finish them at a pace that works for you, based on how much time you can dedicate to your coursework each week.
Self Paced

Save up to $500 Ends 6/25/2024

Cost of program


$1,899 Save $500


$69/month, Start for as low as $20

1-800-471-3232 (9AM - 9PM ET)

early childhood educator sitting with students.

What You Will Learn

  1. How to create a professional portfolio that meets the standards required to apply for the CDA Credential. 
  2. How to establish and maintain a safe, healthy learning environment for young children.
  3. How to support children’s social and emotional development and to provide positive guidance.
  4. How to understand the basics of child psychology and how it can be applied to day-to-day practices in child care.
Full Program Goal & Outcomes

CDA Credential Prep Outcomes

Teacher Assistants





Childcare Workers

AVG SAlary**


Number of jobs**


In our online CDA Prep Certificate, you'll fulfill the formal education requirement to apply for your CDA while also building your professional portfolio. By earning a CDA, you can stand out from other job applicants in early childhood education roles and even advance your career in your current childcare facility.

State Licensing Requirements

Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in certain fields are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered by your Penn Foster Program. You should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where you plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in your program. See the State Licensing page for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

CDA Certificate Course Curriculum

  • 13 credits

Estimated completion time:

  • Fast track = 8 months
  • Average time = 14 months

With Penn Foster, you can learn at whatever pace works best for you. Some learners will be more comfortable moving faster, and dedicating more time, and the fast track estimate will apply to them. The average track will apply to most learners who can dedicate a few hours per week to completing their coursework. The estimated completion times per semester are based on completion times for learners enrolled in this program from November 2020 - October 2021, excluding withdrawals.

In our CDA Certificate course curriculum, you'll cover lessons that will help you fulfill the educational component and build a professional portfolio — which are some of the key items necessary to begin your application to the Council for your Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. Your CDA classes online include:

  • Health, Safety, and Nutrition for the Young Child
  • Child, Family, and Community
  • Child Growth and Development
  • Your choice of Infant/Toddler, Preschool, or Family Child Care specialization


Non-US residents: This is a United States-based institution with course materials that are geared toward US job and labor standards. Learners from outside of the US may find that some information and materials will differ from the current standards of their country. Please note, the materials for this program are in English and use the Imperial unit of measurement, not the metric system.

Show Full Curriculum

CDA Credential Prep Success Stories

Penn Foster’s CDA Certificate Training Program can help prepare you for the first steps toward earning your CDA and advancing in your childcare career. This program has helped recent graduates find new jobs or start their own businesses while learning at their own pace. Learn more about Penn Foster graduates' experiences and how Penn Foster worked for them. 
View Student Success Stories
quote icon

Kimberly Q.

Penn Foster Graduate, 2021

“I love how flexible being enrolled in Penn Foster is. The content was extremely easy to understand, and I appreciate that the work is self-paced.”

Looking for training in early childhood education for your workers?

Penn Foster currently works with hundreds of leading employers to meet their unique organizational needs.
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CDA Certificate Tuition

Take the first steps toward a new career with our online CDA Certificate Training Program. Simply choose from one of our low-cost customized payment plans below and get started today! 

Option 1: Pay in full

Save up to $500 Ends 6/25/2024

Cost of Program


$1,899 Save $500

  • Best price. Best value.
  • Pay the full cost today
  • No monthly payments
Enroll Now

Option 2: Monthly Auto Pay Plan

Cost of Program


  • Pay $69 per month
  • Start for $20 down
  • All major credit and debit cards accepted
Enroll Now

Option 3: Monthly Mail Pay Plan

cost of program


  • Pay $69 per month
  • Start for $49 down
  • Mail your payments
Enroll Now

California residents please click here for Required California Disclosures.

Need more info or ready to enroll?

Looking for more information on transfer credits, military benefits, or our refund policy? Find this information and more about tuition and enrollment here.

Tuition & Payment Options

We're here to help. Call 1-800-471-3232 (9AM - 9PM ET)

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Our Proven Childcare Learning Model

Empowering students to reach their goals


  • Start anytime
  • No exam due dates
  • Self-paced


  • Digital study guides
  • Self-check quizzes
  • Webinars and discussion boards


  • 24/7 access to online resources
  • Online student community
  • Dedicated Learner Center


  • Expert faculty
  • Robust learning resources
  • Dedicated student services

Related Programs


How do I get my Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential?

Applying for your CDA Credential involves several steps. Unlike many other certifications, you don't just sit for an exam. You'll need to have 120 hours of formal education in early childhood classes, obtain 480 hours of documented experience working with young children, and have a professional portfolio that meets competency standards as laid out by the CDA Council. For more information about the application process and prerequisites, view the frequently asked questions on the CDA Council website here

Is a CDA equivalent to an associate degree?

No, a CDA is not equivalent to an associate degree. A Child Development Associate or CDA Credential is a designation that is earned through education, eligible work hours, and a certification exam while an associate degree is a full college program. Those looking to earn a CDA do not need a college degree, but they do need 120 hours of approved education in childcare.

How much does a CDA make an hour?

The average hourly pay for someone working in childcare can vary based on experience, credentials, and even the state you live in. Earning your CDA can offer opportunities for career advancement and pay raises in child care facilities. On average, according to PayScale, someone with a CDA can earn $13.65 per hour in an entry-level job.¹

What are the most important qualities of a good child care development associate?

Successful CDAs often have some qualities in common. Generally, they're passionate about working with young children, are patient, have strong observational skills, and can work comfortably with a variety of personalities.