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Child Development Associate Degrees: Best Programs, Jobs, and Salaries

Ajayi Abimbola Samuel - March 02, 2022


Child development associate degrees offer an introductory platform to prepare students for future careers as educators, child and family advocates, and social workers. It is a stepping stone to begin your career, acquire the child development associate (CDA) certification, or obtain a bachelor’s degree in child development and related fields.

In this article, we will examine the best colleges for child development, look at how much it will cost to obtain a degree, and break down the various child development associate degree requirements.

What Is Child Development?

Child development is the study of the growth and development of a child. It covers a child’s prenatal stage to their teenage years. It explores physical, social, cognitive, and emotional growth as well as the environmental and systemic factors that can influence a child’s development at different stages.

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What Is a Child Development Associate Degree?

A child development associate degree is a two-year degree that teaches developmentally appropriate environments, activities, and practices for children. It integrates elements of social sciences, childhood education, and psychology to study factors that stimulate emotional, intellectual, and social growth in children.

An associate degree in child development can open career opportunities in academic fields such as special education, social work, family child care, and special education. It can also be used to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Child Development Associate Degree Requirements

The minimum education requirement for entry into a child development associate degree program is a high school diploma or a GED. A minimum grade point average (GPA) is also required. The eligibility requirements vary according to each institution.

Students must also complete a minimum of 60-semester unit courses to complete the program and gain the child development associate degree. Furthermore, students must be at least 18 years of age on the first day of class.

How Much Does a Child Development Associate Degree Cost?

According to the National Center of Educational Statistics (NCES), it costs an average of $11,391 to obtain an associate degree in child development. However, this value depends on the type of school, student fees, accommodation fees, and educational materials. Students in public colleges pay considerably less than students in private colleges.

Child Development Associate Degree Financing Options: How to Pay for Your Child Development Degree

The cost of getting an associate degree can be a financial burden. For this reason, it is best to choose a school that is priced within your budget. Community colleges are your best bet to avoid straining your bank account. Some schools also have financing options such as school loans and installment payments.

You can also apply for scholarships, waivers, and federal financial aid . Students can benefit from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, as most colleges use it to distribute need-based scholarship packages. This process can help you acquire loans and grants such as Federal Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, and PLUS Loans.

Best Child Development Associate Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Calhoun Community College Associate of Applied Science in Child Development Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
College of the Sequoias Associate of Science in Child Development Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
Dallas College Associate of Applied Science in Child Development and Early Childhood Education Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Delta College Associate of Applied Arts in Child Development The Higher Learning Commission
Houston Community College Associate of Applied Science in Child Development Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education The Higher Learning Commission
Muskegon Community College Associate of Applied Science in Child Development The Higher Learning Commission
Northampton Community College Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education The Middle States Commission on Higher Education
San Bernardino Valley College Associate of Arts in Child Development Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
South Texas College Associate of Applied Science in Child Development and Early Childhood Education Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Best Colleges for Child Development: Top Child Development Associate Degree Programs

The child development associate degree is a popular academic program in most private and public schools. In this section, we have highlighted some of the best child development associate programs and provided a detailed overview for your benefit.

Child Development | Calhoun Community College

This program is specially designed for students who have an interest in preschool or school-age programs. The child development associate degree program at Calhoun Community College introduces students to child education, child growth and development principles, children’s health and safety, and methods for teaching children.

Child Development | College of the Sequoias

The child development associate degree program at the College of Sequoias introduces students to the fundamental concepts of early education and child development. It offers a unique mix of classroom and lab experience to provide students with the necessary skills to gain entry-level employment in the childcare and education profession.

Child Development and Early Childhood Education | Dallas College

This program provides an in-depth learning experience into the growth and development of young children from birth to twelve years of age. Students learn in a child development center, where they benefit from lab opportunities in a childhood education setting under the guidance of qualified teachers.

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Child Development | Delta College

This associate degree program focuses on infant and toddler development, first aid, teaching practices, and psychology. It teaches critical leadership skills for director positions in child development institutions.

Students who complete this program are qualified for center directors and lead teachers. They can also apply for their CDA credential and start up their own childcare business.

Child Development | Houston Community College

This program prepares students for roles in the child care and early education sector. Students learn the principles of child growth and development in cognitive, emotional, social, and physical areas. After the successful completion of this program, students can apply for the CDA certification via the Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition.

Early Childhood Education | Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana

Ivy Tech Community College offers an early childhood education program that emphasizes childhood growth and adult-child relationships. Students also learn about the ideal environment for child care and development. The curriculum combines an ideal mix of field experiences, campus lab work, and online classes.

Child Development | Muskegon Community College

The associate of applied science degree at Muskegon Community College educates students on the different phases of development in children from birth to eight years of age. The curriculum involves practical fieldwork and classroom activities covering all the various domains of early child development.

Early Childhood Education | Northampton Community College

This program preps students for careers in the early care and education profession. The coursework utilizes evidence-based knowledge to understand child development, family relationships, and developmentally effective approaches. Graduates can become teachers in child care centers, nursery schools, and kindergarten classrooms.

Child Development | San Bernardino Valley College

Students looking to become early childhood educators should consider this associate of arts degree in child development. It offers a deep understanding of the principles of child development, family and community relationship, and children’s nutrition. Upon completion, you can apply for the California State Child Development Teacher Permit.

Child Development and Early Childhood Program | South Texas College

In this program, you will learn the theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to become a child development professional. Graduates can choose from a wide range of careers in the child development field such as special needs, toddlers, preschoolers, and infants. You will also learn the different stages of child growth and how to help children explore their interests.

Best Online Child Development Associate Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Arkansas Tech University Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education The Higher Learning Commission
Dakota County Technical College Associate of Science in Early Childhood and Youth Development The Higher Learning Commission
Murray State College Associate of Science in Child Development and Education The Higher Learning Commission
North Central Missouri College Associate of Science in Early Childhood Development The Higher Learning Commission
Northern Oklahoma College Associate of Arts in Child Development The Higher Learning Commission
Redlands Community College Associate of Applied Science in Child Development The Higher Learning Commission
Roane State Community College Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tulsa Community College Associate of Applied Science in Child Development The Higher Learning Commission
Walters State Community College Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Western Oklahoma State College Associate of Applied Science in Child Development The Higher Learning Commission

Best Colleges for Child Development: Top Online Child Development Associate Degree Programs

If you are interested in flexible learning or you have other commitments you can earn your child development associate degree by taking online courses. Most schools offer online educational programs for students who prefer to work from the comfort of their homes. Below are some of the best colleges to earn your online associate degree in child development.

Early Childhood Education | Arkansas Tech University

The online associate degree at Arkansas Tech University equips students with the knowledge and experience required to build a career in the childcare and early childhood education profession. Students gain a thorough understanding of the principles of child development, child health, and nutrition. The program also prepares students to earn their CDA credentials.

Early Childhood and Youth Development | Dakota County Technical College

This child development program prepares students for a wide variety of roles in the field of child development, such as teachers, child center directors, paraprofessionals, and child life assistants. It offers hands-on experience and knowledge in child development theory and the learning techniques to teach young children.

Child Development and Education | Murray State College

This online program teaches students to become expert childhood educators or transfer to a bachelor’s degree. Students in this program take online courses such as infant and toddler programs, language skills for children, and child and family development. These courses provide the necessary skills for a career in child development services.

Early Childhood Development | North Central Missouri College

This associate degree program emphasizes the foundation of childhood education. It equips students with the required childcare skills to work in entry-level positions in the industry. The curriculum includes the coursework for the child development associate credential.

Child Development | Northern Oklahoma College

The child development associate degree teaches students about the cognitive, social, physical, and emotional development of children from birth through to preschool age. Students in this program take education courses such as child health, infant preschool programming, special needs, and many more.

Child Development | Redlands Community College

This early childhood development program teaches you the fundamental knowledge and skills to work with young children. You will also learn how to create an effective learning environment for children. Graduates can transfer their course credits to earn a bachelor’s degree in family studies and child development or early intervention and child development.

Early Childhood Education | Roane State Community College

This is a two-year online program for students who want to become childhood education professionals. It involves courses in child development, curriculum development, and family and community involvement. This program also includes an option to pursue the child development associate credential.

Child Development | Tulsa Community College

This online program prepares students for careers as child development specialists, preschool teachers, and head start teachers. It offers a complete understanding of the factors guiding the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive growth of children.

Early Childhood Education | Walters State Community College

This early childhood education degree provides online academic training for students who want to delve into childhood education. Students learn how to design programs that guarantee positive learning experiences for children of all ages.

Child Development | Western Oklahoma State College

This program equips students with job-ready skills to enter the child development profession. It teaches the skills necessary to explore career opportunities as head start teachers, teacher assistants, and child advocates.

What’s the Average Child Development Associate Degree Salary?

A woman wearing a facemask and glasses showing a picture book to three toddlers.
An associate degree in child development equips students to become childcare professionals.

According to PayScale, the average child development associate degree salary is $34,000 per year . This salary depends on qualifications, skills, and years of experience in the profession. It can also vary depending on your location.

Top Child Development Associate Degree Jobs and Salaries: Overview

Child Development Associate Degree Jobs Average Salary
Kindergarten Teacher $60,660
Preschool and Childcare Center Director $49,160
Preschool Teacher $31,930
Teacher Assistant $28,900
Childcare Worker $25,460

Best Child Development Associate Degree Jobs Explained

Kindergarten Teachers

  • Average Salary: $60,660
  • Job Outlook: 7%
  • Number of Jobs: 1,492,400
  • Highest-Paying States: Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oregon

Kindergarten teachers teach young children basic academic and social skills to prepare them for elementary school. Kindergarten teachers must design a classroom curriculum to engage, educate, and motivate children.

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

  • Average Salary: $49,160
  • Job Outlook: 11%
  • Number of Jobs: 60,800
  • Highest-Paying States: New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Minnesota

Preschool and childcare center directors manage the day-to-day operations of childcare centers. They design programs and educational policies for children, manage budgets, and supervise other staff.

Preschool Teacher

  • Average Salary: $31,930
  • Job Outlook: 18%
  • Number of Jobs: 469,600
  • Highest-Paying States: New Jersey, District of Columbia, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland

Preschool teachers teach preschool-aged children basic skills such as numbers, letters, colors, and shapes. Preschool teachers also create programs for children that encourage positive development.

Teacher Assistant

  • Average Salary: $28,900
  • Job Outlook: 9%
  • Number of Jobs: 1,306,300
  • Highest-Paying States: Alaska, Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland, California

Teacher assistants, also called paraprofessionals or teacher sides, assist licensed teachers in their duties. Roles include grading papers and offering additional support to students. Teacher assistants are often trained to be certified teachers.

Childcare Worker

  • Average Salary: $25,460
  • Job Outlook: 8%
  • Number of Jobs: 992,400
  • Highest-Paying States: District of Columbia, Vermont, California, Washington, Massachusetts

Childcare workers monitor and supervise children. They foster proper child development by ensuring that children have enough playtime, rest, and physical activities. They monitor children’s social behaviors when alone or when playing with other children.

Should You Get an Associate Degree in Child Development?

Yes, if you love kids and you see yourself building a career in child development, you should get an associate degree in child development. It is an ideal platform for career advancement in the childcare profession. It provides the necessary education to help you master the fundamentals and propel you towards other college degree levels in the future.

Furthermore, with financial aid readily available and courses available both online and in-person, you will have no problem finding a child development program that is right for you.

Child Development Associate Degree FAQ

What can I do with a child development associate degree?

An associate in child development has a wide variety of career paths. For example, you can become a preschool teacher, childcare worker, teacher’s assistant, social and human service assistant, or child advocate.

What is a child development associate credential?

A child development associate credential is an important certification in the early childhood education field. It shows that you have professional knowledge, understanding, and skills to positively influence child development. This not only brings out the best in educators but it allows them to advance their careers.

How long is a child development associate good for?

Your CDA credential is only valid for three years from the award date. You will have to renew your CDA credential to prove that you are up-to-date with the child development field. There is a free guide on the renewal process on the CDA website.

What is the difference between CDA and an associate degree?

Associate degrees offer foundational knowledge for people who are not yet working with children but want to build a career in childcare. A CDA credential, on the other hand, is for people who are already teaching children but need additional training to supplement their skills.


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Ajayi Abimbola Samuel

About the author: Ajayi Abimbola is an expert content writer who has written for sites like LocalPrana and Junkar Ninja. He holds a BSc in Chemical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, where he also studied Java and Python.

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