Prepare for the Exam

The Employment Support Professional Certification Council (ESPCC) does not recommend or endorse a study guide or test preparation program. The CESP™ examination was designed to test the application of knowledge and skills one uses in their role as an employment professional. Any coursework or training that contributes to professional development would be beneficial, but not necessary, while preparing to take the exam.

APSE knows that many people want to prepare. Therefore we provide background information, tips, and tools to help you feel confident and comfortable on exam day.


Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP™) Candidate Handbook

Updated March 2020


Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP™) Exam Content Outline

(effective for exams beginning in August 2019)

Exam Day Instructions

  • Bring a photo ID to verify your identity – there is no admission to the examination without proper identification. Your name on your ID must match the name on the application.
  • Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the exam starting time (late arrivals will not be permitted to enter the exam)
  • Expect to complete the exam within the three hours allotted for testing (excluding check-in time)
  • No conversing or other forms of communication among candidates is permitted once you enter the examination area.
  • Feel free to check out upon completion and leave the exam early
  • Do not bring any notebooks or other reference materials to the exam session
  • Do not bring any materials or supplies
  • No electronic devices are allowed in the testing area (excluding approved accommodations).

Please read the Candidate Handbook for a full list of exam day instructions and expectations.

Exam Description

The CESP™ exam is a multiple-choice exam with 135 questions, with 115 scored based on the Content Outline below and 20 that are non-scored. Test takers have up to three (3) hours to complete the examination.

The CESP™ exam is a scenario-based exam based on the skills and information an employment support professional uses every day.

The exam assesses the candidate’s ability to apply knowledge to context rather than their ability to memorize facts. The test presents fictional situations similar to those typically encountered by employment specialists in a variety of job roles or practice settings.

For each question, test takers must select the most appropriate and effective strategy for the scenario based on their knowledge of Employment First best practices that support community-based, integrated employment.

The exam is offered every other month at testing sites throughout the United States. To learn more, visit the Scheduling and Application page.


Content Outline

The exam is based on the results of a national role delineation study. Subject matter experts were polled on the basic skills and knowledge they believe to be an essential foundation to work in this field. The study’s results shape the detailed content outline. Candidates should carefully review the content outline as they prepare for the exam.

The study identified four core areas as crucial for the ability to work as a supported employment specialist. The exam questions address each of these four areas.

The number of scored questions covering each domain is listed in parentheses.

  1. Application of Core Values and Principles to Practice (22 scored questions)
  2. Individualized Employment and Career Planning (31 scored questions)
  3. Community Research and Job Development (22 scored questions)
  4. Workplace and Related Supports (40 scored questions)

Find the full list of four domains and 75 sub-topics: Detailed Content Outline 

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CESP Practice Test

Created by the APSE Professional Development Committee, this 11-question practice test can help candidates prepare for the Certified Employment Support Professional certification.