CESP™ Certification Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

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 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:

  1. Education Requirement: High school diploma, GED or equivalent;
  2. 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
  3. 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.

If you have questions around your eligibility, email cesp@apse.org. If you submit your application and are deemed ineligible to sit for the exam based on the requirements, you will be refunded your application fee minus a nonrefundable $40 application processing fee.

What eligibility documentation is needed for the CESP™ application?

Candidates for CESP certification show proof of their eligibility at the time of application.

Applicants for certification must provide the following documentation when applying:

  1. Education Requirement:
    • High school (or equivalent) diploma or transcript. Note that a transcript or diploma from postsecondary education can be submitted in lieu of high school or equivalent. PDF or .jpg files are accepted.
  2. Experience Requirement:
    • Resume: An updated resume reflecting their experience as an Employment Support Professional. PDF or Word files are accepted.
    • A signed employer verification letter showing your work experience. Please see the Employer Letter Guide for more information. PDF or Word files are accepted.
  3. Code of Conduct:
    • Each applicant must agree to and sign the Code of Conduct included in the application.

If you have questions around your eligibility, email cesp@apse.org. If you submit your application and are deemed ineligible to sit for the exam based on the requirements, you will be refunded your application fee minus a nonrefundable $40 application processing fee.

The proof of eligibility is not required for current CESP certificants looking to recertify by exam.

What is the CESP™ examination fee?

Exam Fees

Exam Fee $199 USD
Application Processing Fee (nonrefundable) $40 USD (included in exam fee)
Retest Fee Full exam fee

You are able to pay by credit/debit through the online application or by mailing in a check. Please note that your application will not be reviewed until payment has been received. Exam seats are limited and are filled on a first come, first served basis. Your seat will not be guaranteed until registration is complete. Registration is not complete until your application is approved.

Fees are non-transferrable from one candidate to another.

When will I find out my score?

Computerized scoring will be utilized to determine examination results. Results will be provided immediately after completing the CESP™ examination. Candidates will receive a score report. New CESP™ certificants will receive their certificate electronically 2-4 weeks after results notification.

How do I apply for the exam?

You can register for the CESP™ exam here. We recommend watching the CESP informational video first, which walks through the application process. The exam application must be submitted, paid for, and any additional documentation requested submitted by the exam application window deadline.

Exam deadline dates are available on the exam opportunities page, as well as on the application.

Please note that a candidate is limited to sitting for the exam two times in a 12-month period. This 12-month period begins at the time of their first testing. Candidates who have failed the exam and are seeking to sit for the exam a second time must wait until the next testing window to apply and sit for the exam. This delay supports healthy retesting patterns without undue inconvenience, while also supporting exam security.

How do I interpret my score report?

All candidates receive a detailed score report. In addition to providing the candidate’s overall percentage score, the percentage pass-fail cut score, and the overall pass-fail outcome, Candidates receive sub-score information. An example of a candidate score report is displayed here.

How do I locate or access my certificate?

In the case of new certificants, you will receive a link to your digital certificate two weeks after the post mark on your score report. Your digital certificate can be accessed by clicking the following link: https://www.credential.net/user/get_certificates

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.

Preparing for the CESP™ Exam

How do I request an accommodation for the exam?

ESPCC will provide reasonable accommodations for test candidates with disabilities that are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Candidates requesting accommodations must submit the Request for Accommodations Form during the application window. ESPCC reserves the right to review any request for accommodations and have requests considered by its own experts to ensure an appropriate level of accommodations and protect the integrity of the examination and certification.

All accommodation requests require Professional Documentation. Please look at the accommodation application for further information. This form is required to be submitted before the application window is closed. Failure to do so will result in your accommodation being denied.

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.

Who should be credentialed?

The ESPCC developed the CESP™ for employment support professionals (ESPs) who provide employment services to individuals with significant disabilities by assisting individuals to obtain and maintain competitive employment in integrated community workplaces.

The CESP credential is designed for job coaches, job developers, transition employment specialists, job placement personnel, and employment specialists/consultants who serve a wide variety of target audiences including individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities, mental health diagnoses, sensory impairments, physical disabilities, traumatic brain injury and autism spectrum disorders.

Is the CESP™ Certification only for APSE members?

The CESP™ certification is open to all employment professionals that meet the eligibility criteria.

When can I apply for the exam?

All interested certification candidates must apply with APSE during the application window (see below). The application will include eligibility information and request payment.

Once your application is reviewed (within 72 business hours of receipt), you will receive notice of approval or denial. If you are approved*, you will receive an email from PSI including the scheduling authorization. This email will include all scheduling links and instructions.

Once you go to register with PSI (after being approved by APSE for eligibility), you'll be able to find the location closest to you. Then you can pick the day and time that works best for you. It is first come, first serve at testing centers, so the times will vary by center.

If the Scheduling Authorization has not been received at least one week prior to the beginning of the testing period, or if the name on the Scheduling Authorization does not exactly match the name on the candidate’s current driver’s license, passport, or US military ID, then candidates should contact the CESP director at cesp@apse.org.

*Approved candidates are those who meet the eligibility requirements, complete the applicant application, and pay the required fees by the application deadline

The testing windows are the dates during which the exams are administered. The application deadline dates are the dates during which candidates can register for the exam.

Testing Window Application Window
October 1-7, 2018 August 27-September 24, 2018
December 3-9, 2018 October 29-November 26, 2018
February 4-10, 2019 December 31st, 2018-January 28th, 2019
April 1-7, 2019 February 25-March 25, 2019
June 3-9, 2019 April 29-May 27th, 2019
August 5-11, 2019 July 1-29, 2019
October 7-13, 2019 September 2-30, 2019
December 2-8, 2019 October 28-November 25, 2019
When and where will I take the exam?

Once you go to register with PSI (after being approved by APSE for eligibility), you'll be able to find the location closest to you. Then you can pick the day and time that works best for you. It is first come, first serve at testing centers, so the times will vary by center.

There are several hundred PSI-managed computer-based Testing Centers in the United States. Testing Centers are open Monday through Saturday, excluding holidays. Hours and days of availability vary at each Testing Center. PSI Test Center Network Locations

How do I schedule my exam with PSI?

First, you will need to complete the application with APSE, including uploading all documentation of eligibility and paying the examination fee of $199.

Once you are approved, you will receive the Scheduling Authorization email. You can then contact PSI (computer testing centers) for appointment scheduling. PSI manages the computerized Testing Centers and schedules examination appointments. Questions regarding Testing Centers and scheduling can be answered by calling PSI at 800-733-9267.

The Scheduling Authorization will specify how to schedule the examination appointment, as well as the dates of the testing period. Candidates must schedule appointments through PSI online or over the phone at 800-733-9267.

Appointment times are first come, first-served! As a result, it is important to request testing date, time, and location as soon as possible following receipt of the Scheduling Authorization.

PSI will respond with a confirmation email. While every effort will be made to accommodate first choices of date / time / location, it is not always possible to do so. Therefore, it is imperative the PSI-generated confirmation email be reviewed carefully for scheduled date / time / location. Contact PSI at 800-733-9267 if this email confirmation is not received within 24-hours of appointment scheduling or if a change to the requested testing date / time / location is impossible to accommodate.

What is it like to go into the testing center?
What if I need to cancel or reschedule?

Your examination fee and application are only good for the examination window in which you applied. Cancellation after the application window has passed will result in forfeiture of the full exam fee. Cancellation prior to the application window closing will result in a refund minus a nonrefundable application fee of $40.

To change an exam date, time or location (based on seat availability) once within the same exam window, candidates must reschedule online at least 48 hours before the scheduled exam date or by calling PSI at 800-733-9267. Candidates who wish to change their appointment within two days of the examination will not be refunded their examination fee and will be required to pay the entire
examination fee for any future examinations through the CESP per the application windows. You cannot change your exam appointment within two days of the scheduled examination. Failure to take the exam as scheduled will result in forfeiture of the full exam fee. PSI does not have the authority to authorize refunds or transfers to another testing period.

Note: A voicemail or email message is not an acceptable form of cancellation. Please use the telephone system and speak to a Customer Service Representative.

What can I expect on the day of the exam?

The following security procedures will apply during the examination;

  • While at an examination site, you are considered to be a professional and shall be treated as such. In turn, you must conduct yourself in a professional manner at all times. While at the site, you shall not use words or take actions that are vulgar, obscene, libelous, or that would denigrate the staff or other candidates.
  • NO conversing or other form of communication among candidates is permitted once you enter the examination area.
  • All electronic devices used to record, transmit, receive, or play back audio, photographic text, or video content, including but not limited to: cell phones, laptop computers, tablets, Bluetooth devices, wearable technology such as smart watches, MP3 players, pagers, cameras and voice recorders will be allowed in the examination center. No personal items are to enter the testing center. All such items should be left in a locked vehicle or in a Testing Center locker, should such be available. It is STRONGLY recommended such items remain safely at home. APSE/ESPCC and are NOT RESPONSIBLE for any personal possession losses occurring at the Testing Center, in a vehicle parked at the Testing Center or on the grounds of the Testing Center.
  • No papers, books, or reference materials may be taken into or removed from the examination room.
  • Person(s) accompanying an examination candidate may not wait in the examination center, inside the building or on the building’s property. This applies to guests of any nature, including drivers, children, friends, family, colleagues or instructors.
  • No smoking, eating, or drinking is allowed in the examination center.
  • During the check-in process, all candidates will be asked if they possess any prohibited items. Candidates may also be asked to empty their pockets and turn them out for the proctor to ensure they are empty. The proctor may also ask candidates to lift up the ends of their sleeves and bottoms of their pant legs to ensure that notes or recording devices are not being hidden there.
  • Proctors will also carefully inspect eyeglass frames, tie tacks, or any other apparel that could be used to harbor a recording device. Proctors will ask to inspect any such items in candidates’ pockets.
  • If prohibited items are found during check-in, candidates shall return these items to their vehicle. PSI will not be responsible for the security of any personal belongings or prohibited items.
  • Any candidates possessing prohibited items in the examination room shall immediately have his or her test results invalidated, and PSI shall notify the examination sponsor of the occurrence.
  • Any candidates seen giving or receiving assistance on an examination, found with unauthorized materials, or who violates any security regulations will be asked to surrender all examination materials and to leave the examination center. All such instances will be reported to the examination sponsor.
  • Copying or communicating examination content is in violation of a candidate’s contract with PSI and the ESPCC, and federal and state law. Either may result in the disqualification of examination results and may lead to legal action.
  • Once candidates have been seated and the examination begins, they may leave the examination room only to use the restroom, and only after obtaining permission from the proctor. Candidate will not receive extra time to complete the examination.

Violation of any of the rules listed above may lead to forfeiture of fees, dismissal from the examination center, and or/cancellation of completed test responses.

Required Identification at the Examination Site

Candidates need to provide one (1) valid form of non-expired, government issued identification, bearing photo and signature. The ID must be in the official language where the testing center is located.

Your first and last name and suffix (Jr., II, Sr.,) on your current, unexpired, government issued ID must match the first and last name and suffix on your CESP application. Contact cesp@apse.org immediately if it does not.

What if I do not pass the exam?

Candidates who fail the exam may re-test at any future exam site. A new application and examination fee must be submitted for each exam attempt.

Please note that a candidate is limited to sitting for the exam two times in a 12-month period. This 12-month period begins at the time of their first testing. Candidates who have failed the exam and are seeking to sit for the exam a second time must wait until the next testing window to apply and sit for the exam. This delay supports healthy retesting patterns without undue inconvenience, while also supporting exam security.

How do I update my contact information?

It is the responsibility of the certificant to ensure the ESPCC has their most up-to-date contact information. If you’ve had a name, address, email or phone number change, please submit your changes here.

How do I maintain my CESP™ certification?

CESP certificants must renew their certification every 3 years by completing 36 CE credits and paying the recertification fee of $125.

CESP Recertification

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 CESPcertification 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.

How do I mail in a check to pay for my re-certification or exam fee?

The completed application, plus all required documentation and fees, must be submitted and will be processed online. If payment is made by check or money order, the online application must be completed first, followed by submission of the mailed payment. Your application will not be reviewed for eligibility until payment has been received.

All checks must be made payable to “APSE”. Checks made payable to “CESP Exam” will be returned. Check payments must be received before the registration deadline in the case of exams.

DO NOT SEND CASH. Mailed payments must specify current approved government-issued photo ID candidate name and requested examination/testing period on the face of the check or money order.

APSE: 414 Hungerford Dr, Suite 224, Rockville, MD 20850

Is the exam offered outside the United States?

The CESP is only offered in the United States at this time. While international candidates are welcomed, the examination was created using a Role Delineation Study process that studied best practices in the United States. In addition, the examination in its current forms reference US specific laws and systems.

Interested in learning more about becoming CESP™ certified? Watch APSE’s Free 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

Click Here to Watch the Informational Webinar

If you have additional questions, please email us or call 301-279-0060.

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