What is professional certification?
The Employment Support Professional Certification Council (ESPCC) developed the Certified Employment Support Professional™ (CESP™) certification program to set a standard of knowledge and distinguish employment support professionals who have shown they have the skill and competence to perform the requirements of the job.
According to the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), the trade association for the professional certification industry, certification is the voluntary process by which a non-governmental entity grants a time–limited recognition and use of a credential to an individual after verifying that he or she has met predetermined and standardized criteria. It is the vehicle that a profession or occupation uses to differentiate among its members, using standards, sometimes developed through a consensus-driven process, based on existing legal and psychometric requirements.
In simpler terms, a certifying agency, The ESPCC grants a credential to an individual who has demonstrated, by passing an exam, they have the knowledge and skill required to perform the job of an employment support professional.
What is the CESP™ examination fee?
When is the next exam in my area?
When will I find out my score?
Is there training for the CESP™ examination?
There is not a training program for the CESP™ exam. The CESP™ exam tests the ability to apply the practical knowledge required to work in supported employment settings to fictional scenarios. Any training program that enhances knowledge and experience that can generate positive employment outcomes will be beneficial for any candidate, although not necessary.
The ESPCC does not recommend or endorse any programs created with the intention to aid in exam preparation.
What are the eligibility requirements to sit for the CESP™ examination?
Candidates for CESP™ certification must meet all eligibility requirements in effect at the time of their application for certification.
Applicants for certification must meet all of the following requirements before they take the exam:
- Education Requirement: High school diploma, GED or equivalent;
- Experience Requirement: Each applicant must meet one of the following requirements:1 year of employment support professional (ESP) work experience, which may include up to a maximum of 3 months of internship or practicum time; or 9 months of ESP work experience with training component; and
- Code of Conduct: Each applicant must agree to and sign the Code of Conduct included in the application
Work Experience Definition: A minimum of 20 hours per week of paid Employment Support Professional (ESP) related work is required. Examples of paid ESP related work are:
- Work directly related to providing and/or supporting community-based employment services.
- Employment as a direct employment services professional, provision of direct employment services as an agency/company employee, and/or managerial or supervisory work in employment services.
- Experience in school-to-work transition environments providing ESP service.
- Work completed as part of an internship, practicum, or other on-the-job training may be counted to the limits noted in the training definition.
*Note* Work related to residential and/or non-employment day services, segregated employment services will not be accepted.
Training: An internship or practicum of at least 2 months in length and/or successful completion of an intensive training course that includes at least 32 hours of ESP related course work. The content for acceptable training courses must be directly related to the CESP™ content outline. Acceptable training content is related to supported and customized employment as well as training relevant to providing employment and community based supports to people with disabilities. Examples of acceptable training content includes: specialized training to work with specific disability groups (i.e. autism or mental illness), training on small businesses development, American with Disabilities Act (ADA) training, benefits counseling, and strategies for job development. Training related to segregated employment services or services that are not widely considered to be best practices will not be accepted.
How are certification and training programs different?
Professional certification is different than a training or educational program. Training programs offer a certificate of attendance when an individual completes the coursework, but they do not give a credential. The ESPCC used a nationally recognized process to define the roles and responsibilities of the employment support professional and awards a credential after the individual passes an exam to demonstrate their competence
Training programs focus on providing information and education to enable students to master the curriculum of a specific career field. Certification programs provide the third party, objective testing to validate that individuals take the national exam are competent to pass an examination on nationally accepted professional competency standards.
Training programs typically offer a certificate of attendance or certificate of completion when an individual completes the coursework, but they do not give a credential. Training programs may require individuals to pass an exam on the training content but the exam is not based on national standardized competencies and is not administered by an independent professional organization as is required of nationally accredited certification programs. A training certificate demonstrates that at a single point in time the individual completed a course. It does not necessarily show that they have the skills and knowledge to perform all of the requirements of a particular job as demonstrated by nationally accredited certification examinations.
The ESPCC recognizes that there are many valuable training programs that will prepare professionals to pass the ESPCC examination, however we do not endorse specific training programs.
How was the CESP™ exam developed?
In January 2011, The ESPCC launched a role delineation study (RDS) as the first step towards developing a national certification program.
A representative panel of nine subject matter experts (SMEs) developed the RDS to correspond to the job content elements that are related to effective entry-level ESP performance. Established reference materials from the profession were used to identify 80 content elements grouped into content domains, sequenced in the order in which they are most typically performed.
Following a systematic and scientific process, the survey was created and then sent to employment professionals around the country. Upon completion of the study, the data was collected and analyzed. Means and standard deviations were computed for each of the content items. Combining the criticality and frequency means for each of the six content domains resulted in the basis for the exam content outline. The content outline was reviewed, revised (primarily by combining two of the domains for better balance), and finalized by a group of SMEs.
Following the approval of the content outline a diverse group of exam question writers were recruited and trained to submit questions for the exam. Questions were subsequently reviewed by additional SMEs before being assembled into an exam for a final quality check and review.
Following each administration of the exam, question statistics are calculated and reviewed along with candidate feedback to identify any concerns or areas for improvement. Inappropriate questions are removed from grading. Following this quality assurance step exam grading is finalized and score reports are issued to candidates.
The ESPCC oversees a continual process of question writing, review and evaluation to ensure that exam content remains up-to-date, accurate, and consistent with the content outline.
Is the CESP™ Certification only for APSE members?
Who should be crendentialed?
What are the benefits of CESP™ certification?
What do CESP™ colleagues say about certification?
What if I do not pass the exam?
How do I update my contact information?
How do I maintain my CESP™ certiication?
CESP™ certificants must renew their certification every 3 years by completing 36 CE credits and paying the recertification fee of $125.
What if my recertification lapses and I want to renew it?
Recertification is mandatory for all CESP™ certification holders. If certification is not renewed it will expire on the last day of the month 3 years after the certification was last earned. Individuals whose certification has expired or been suspended or revoked may not represent him/herself as a CESP™ certification holder and may not use the credential until he/she receives official notice that the recertification requirements have been satisfied or that certification status has been reinstated.
If certification has been expired for 30 days or less, an individual may reinstate his/her certification by meeting all of the recertification requirements, submitting a complete recertification application, and paying the recertification fee of $125. If the application is approved, the individual’s expiration date for the reinstated credential will be the same as if the certification had been renewed on time.
If certification has been expired for more than 30 days, an individual must reapply for certification, meet all eligibility requirements in effect at the time of re-application, and pass the examination.
Can my organization host a CESP™ Examination in my city/state? And what do we need to do to schedule one?
We are always interested in working with organizations that would like to host an exam in their city/state. There is no fee to host an exam. Your organization will need to identify a space to hold the exam (generally a conference room/board room that can accommodate up to 50 people) as well as two volunteer proctors. The proctors do not need to be CESP™ certified. Please note that the proctors will not be paid and must be willing to participate in an hour-long phone training prior to the examination.
Exam Hosting Criteria:
The examination is offered annually at the APSE conference and at other sites across the United States as scheduled/hosted by state or regional organizations. To ensure that examination results for all candidates are earned under comparable conditions and represent fair and accurate measurement, all examination test sites must meet the following criteria:
- Examination rooms will be quiet and free of disruption
- Rooms will have adequate and comfortable ventilation, lighting and temperature
- All exam administrations will be monitored by trained and approved proctors as noted above
- Adequate seating space will be provided to reduce distractions and so that test takers cannot see each other’s work
- Entrances/exits will be monitored/controlled and working fire exits will be available
- A clock will be visible for all test takers
- The test site will be accessible in compliance with the ADA Candidates will have access to water and restroom facilities
- Exam locations are arranged on a state-by-state basis.
CESP™ and State Status
Many states are now either requiring CESP™ certification through new waivers or are offering a higher reimbursement rate to those who hold it. Some states are also leading large-scale certification efforts by offering fully-sponsored seats to those who qualify. Some examples of this are:
June 1, 2016: Service Providers who obtain the status of Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP) from the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) and complete a 2-day Person Centered Thinking (PCT) training will be reimbursed 25% above the current established fee rates.
One of KY’s state Medicaid Waivers, Supports for Community Living Waiver, requires that direct support professionals in Supported Employment be “credentialed.” The state Division of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities created the requirements for this credential. There are 3 options:
- Have a 4-year college degree (in any field)
- Pass the CESP exam
- Submit a portfolio showing your competency. (This portfolio is extensive and many people found the exam an easier way to get credentialed.)
CRP staff providing SE services must meet the one of the following:
- A Masters or Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and written documentation of one year of successful ESP experience
- An Associate’s Degree from an accredited college or university and written documentation (resume’ and references) of four years of successful experience
- A training certificate from a state or nationally recognized employment program on Supported Employment is required. Examples of recognized employment programs include:
- University of Georgia
- College of Direct Support (University of Minnesota)
- A Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP) certification as accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)
January 1, 2016: The CESP is required for providers of the MH IPS services who do not have a four-year degree. This is a higher reimbursed service so additional requirements like being certified makes sense. It is recommended that even staff who have a four-year degree also be CESP’s.
NYS Partners in Employment (PIE) provided funding for one senior supported employment professional per agency in New York State to sit for the CESP exam, which is being held in conjunction with the NYS APSE Conference in May 2016. NYS also sponsored a number of exams at its 2015 conference.
Spring 2016: Ohio Employment First & National APSE are partnering to offer an unprecedented 200 fully-sponsored seats for Ohio residents at 8 scheduled CESP exams to be held between April and June 2016.
DDDS sponsored 20 Employment Specialists for the March 9th, 2016 exam in Bear, DE
The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) Employment First (EF) Team has offered to reimburse the exam fee for up to 125 Oregonians who take the exam and pass
July 1, 2016: Agency Service Providers and Independent Contractors must have a minimum of one employee who has the DHS approved credentialing:
- ACRE Basic or Professional Certificate
- APSE CESP Certification
- Department-approved Substantial Equivalent
University of New Mexico is sponsoring 20 seats at the states June 2016 exam.
Please contact APSE for more information on upcoming exam locations and dates or click here to learn about locations where the exam is currently being offered.
For more information about hosting an examination, please contact Cassy Beckman, CESP™ Director: firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-385-5122 to discuss
Interested in learning more about becoming CESP™certified? Register today for APSE’s Free Monthly CESP™Informational Webinar.
- Learn about certification, accreditation and their benefits
- Review the development of the CESP™ certification exam
- Review exam eligibility requirements
- Learn how to prepare for the exam
- Find out what to do before, during and after the exam
If you have additional questions, please email us or call 612.385.5122. APSE’s fax number is: 301-279-0075.