ECE career mapping

Obtaining a CDA (Child Development Associate) credential is a key stepping-stone on the path to career advancement for early childhood education. PAEYC offers CDA support, pathways to a professional future and mapping career paths including coursework offered through local colleges and universities.

Contact Pam Zimmerman at or 412-421-3889.

FAQ about the CDA Process

1. How do I go about getting enrolled and earning a CDA?

Information regarding the CDA program can be found at  Several colleges and universities offer CDA tracks funded by the Southwest Regional Key and this information can be found at

2. Are there any programs to help pay college tuition to take classes while working in childcare?

The PA Keys offers two ways to support class payments. The first path would be to join a cohort at a participating college or university and the second method is to apply for The Tuition Assistance Program at

3. I took three college classes for a CDA isn’t that all I need to do?

No, the three college classes have provided you the knowledge and credit hours needed towards your application for the CDA. There are a few more steps to earning your CDA Credential, which is awarded by the Council for Professional Recognitions ( One of the CDA requirements is to obtain 120 hours of professional development, you will also need to complete a portfolio, an observation and a multiple choice test. All the information can be found at and ordering a CDA packet. The packet will provide you a step-by-step description of all the requirements.

4. What schools in my area offer Early Childhood Education, CDA or AA programs?

The following schools offer programs, but always check for all participating schools. In the Pittsburgh region you will find Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC), Point Park University, Carlow University, St. Vincent, University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh and Greensburg), IUP, Clarion and Seton Hill University.

5. My employer sent me a letter stating I needed a CDA to keep my current position. What do I do and where do I start?

Your first step will be to visit the CDA Council website at and order a CDA packet. The packet will inform you of all the requirements to earn a CDA. Next, you will want to check your Professional Development History to see if you have already earned 120 hours of Professional Development or if you desire to earn your CDA through a Higher Education Program you will check the local colleges and universities that are offering Cohorts. (Please see Question #2)

6. I am a Director. How do I help my staff move up the career lattice and what programs are available?

There is a Professional Development session titled “Career Advising for Directors” that you could attend to gain knowledge to support your staff.  Visit for details. You will be introduced to strategies to support and mentor your staff through the process of career planning and advancement.

7. Will my credits from a 2-year school count for a 4-year degree?

Yes. Many Higher Education schools will accept most, if not all, credits from a 2-year school. This will allow the individual to continue their education with 2 years already completed.

8. Do any of my PQAS / Professional Development hours count toward other programs?

Professional Development credits can be used towards earning a CDA. Also, several colleges will award college credits for completed Professional Development hours once you are enrolled in their early childhood higher education program.  (Please check with each individual school for their policy)

9. I want to go on for my teaching certification but can’t quit my job to student teach. Is there something I can do?

Many colleges and universities now offer students to student teach "on the job."  Please consult with the individual Higher Education Program to understand their policy.

Download CDA FAQ: Career Advising FAQ.doc