CDA Credential Prep

Undergrad. Cert. 13-17 mo

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.
Self Paced

Save up to $220 Ends 10/26/2021

Cost of program


$1,319 Save $220


$59/month, Start for as low as $1

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

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. Please click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

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
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Kimberly Q.

Penn Foster Graduate, 2021

“I am truly grateful for Penn Foster and the education that this school provides. I have excelled in my career and education since being a student here.”

CDA Certificate Course Curriculum

  • 13 credits

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

Show Full Curriculum

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 $220 Ends 10/26/2021

Cost of Program


$1,319 Save $220

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

Option 2: Monthly Auto Pay Plan

Save up to $10 Ends 10/26/2021

Cost of Program


$1,319 Save $10

  • Pay $59 per month
  • Start for $1 down
  • Credit card, PayPal, or ACH from bank account
Enroll Now

Option 3: Monthly Mail Pay Plan

cost of program


  • Pay $59 per month
  • Start for $49 down
  • Mail your payment using coupon book
Enroll Now

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 EST

Request Info

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
  • Student Portal Help 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 $12.12 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. 


*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. "Teacher Assistants." Occupational Employment and Wages. Accessed June 2, 2021. 

**Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. "Childcare Workers." Occupational Employment and Wages. Accessed June 2, 2021. 

1. PayScale. "Child Development Associate (CDA) Hourly Rate." Accessed May 13, 2021. 

Statements found in the United States Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook are not a guarantee of any post-graduation salary, in part because the data used to create the Occupational Outlook Handbook includes workers from differing educational backgrounds, levels of experience, and geographic areas of the country.