Become a Certified Child Care Provider: Certification and Career Info

Learn how to become a certified child care provider. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements and find out how to start a career in child care.

Do I Want to Be a Certified Child Care Provider?

A certified child care provider cares for children under the age of five during the day as well as older children before and after school or during vacations. The provider ensures the health and safety of the child at child care centers, in the child's home or at the provider's home. Working with active, young children can be stressful and tiring, though the job can be rewarding for individuals who enjoy children.

Job Requirements

Certification typically involves the acquisition of a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential based upon formal education and experience requirements. Licensing is required in select child care settings. The following table contains essential requirements needed to become a certified child care provider:

Common Requirements
Degree Level High school diploma*
Degree Field Childcare*
Licensure/Certification In-home child care providers need to obtain a Family Child Care Home License;** child care providers in a facility need to pass the CDA certification exam*
Experience Work experience or training is typically required*
Key Skills Patience, multi-tasking ability, and physical stamina; people skills, instructional skills and communication skills*
Computer Skills Scheduling and educational software***
Additional Requirements Background checks and immunizations;** CPR and first aid certification****

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **California Department of Social Services, ***O*NET Online, ****Michigan Department of Human Services

Step 1: Complete the State Requirements

Child care providers are required to obtain training prior to entering the field. These mandates may be satisfied by obtaining some postsecondary education credits or earning a degree in early childhood education. By 2013, Head Start teachers will be required to work towards an associate's degree or child development credential.

Success Tip:

  • Gain work experience. States may require in-home child care providers to have previous experience working with children.

Step 2: Complete the Licensing Process for Home Day Care Providers

The licensing process varies by state, and is often determined by the number of children for whom a caregivers plans to care. The licensing process typically involves completing forms, paying a license fee, completing an orientation and passing a home inspection. During the home inspection, licensing agents ensure that providers meet state requirements for safety, cleanliness and organization.

Step 3: Earn Certification

The Child Development Associate (CDA) assessment is a nationally recognized certification administered by the Council for Professional Recognition. To qualify for a CDA assessment, candidates must have accumulated 480 hours of experience working with children and 120 hours of formal child care education within the past five years. The application process consists of observations, gathering testimonials from parents, and passing an examination. The Child Care Professional (CCP) certification is recognized by some states. Requirements to obtain the CCP include having a high school diploma, child care work experience and continuing education.

Step 4: Maintain Certification

CDA initial credentials are valid for three years. The credential must then be renewed every five years. CDA renewal criteria includes documenting work experience, obtaining first aid training, joining a professional organization, completing a Letter of Recommendation Form and earning continuing education units (CEUs).

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