Individuals who earn the CESP™ credential have demonstrated knowledge of the facilitation and advocacy skills necessary to help establish and expand equitable employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in inclusive workplaces.

CESP™ credential holders also raise awareness of benefits within the business community and promote social change that fosters an independent, productive lifestyle for individuals with disabilities.

Eligibility requirements for test-takers include Education, Experience, and Code of Conduct prerequisites to ensure that individuals certified by the ESPCC have an acceptable level of knowledge (as demonstrated by the exam requirements) and skill (as demonstrated by the experience requirement) needed to provide employment support services at an entry-level of competency.

The CESP™ certification is open to all employment professionals that meet the eligibility criteria. APSE membership is not required for applicants to sit for the examination.


Who is the credential designed for?

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.

Requirements for Eligibility

Applicants for certification must meet all of the following requirements before they take the exam:

  1. Education:

High school diploma, GED or equivalent

Application Documentation: 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.

2. Professional Work Experience: One of the following work experiences*:
  • One year of paid employment support professional (ESP) work experience that meets the Work Experience Definition below, which may include up to a maximum of 3 months of internship or practicum time
  • Nine months of paid ESP work experience with training component as defined below

Application Documentation:

Resume: An updated resume reflecting their experience as an Employment Support Professional.

Employer Verification: Written verification directly from current or previous employer(s) to verify you meet the work experience requirement. 

3. Code of Conduct:

All applicants and credential holders will agree to the ESPCC Code of Conduct (Code) as a condition of certification. Violation of any portion of the Code may result in disciplinary action as outlined in the Disciplinary Policy.

Application Documentation: Sign the Code of Conduct on the application. Applicants are required to fill out their applications themselves.

Work Experience Definition

A minimum of 20 hours per week of paid employment-support 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.

Work related to residential and/or non-employment day services, segregated employment services will not be accepted.


Required Documentation for the Eligibility Application


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

Work Experience

An updated resume reflecting their experience as an Employment Support Professional. PDF or Word files are accepted.

Employment Verification:

Written recommendation from current or previous employer(s) to verify you meet the work experience requirement. The application will provide a space for you to enter the email address of the individual who will be verifying your information. 

Code of Conduct

Each applicant must read and agree to abide by the Code of Conduct. This is a task in the online Eligibility Application.

The Code of Conduct states:


The ESPCC supports appropriate, professional standards designed to serve the public, employees, employers, people supported and the employment support profession.  First and foremost, ESPCC certificants and candidates give priority to providing employment support services in a manner that promotes integrity and reflects positively on the profession, consistent with accepted moral, ethical, and legal standards.

CESP™ certificants and candidates have the obligations to maintain high standards of integrity and professional conduct; accept responsibility for their actions; continually seek to enhance their professional capabilities; practice with fairness and honesty; and, encourage others to act in a professional manner, consistent with the certification standards and responsibilities set forth below.

Section 1: Adherence to Legal Requirements

  1. Adhere to all laws, regulations, policies, and ethical standards that apply to the practice of providing employment support services and related activities.
  2. Refrain from public behavior that is clearly in violation of professional, ethical, and/or legal standards that apply to the practice of providing employment support services and related activities.
  3. Refrain from discrimination in professional activities, including relationships with employees, employers, customers and their families, and other professionals.

Section 2: Adherence to ESPCC Policies & Requirements

  1. Follow all ESPCC CESP™ certification program policies, procedures, requirements and rules. This includes the obligation to be aware of and understand these policies and requirements.
  2. Provide accurate and complete information to ESPCC concerning certification and recertification.
  3. Keep confidential all CESP™ examination information; including preventing unauthorized disclosures of exam information.
  4. Cooperate with ESPCC regarding matters related to the Code of Conduct and complaint and/or disciplinary investigations.
  5. Report violations of the Code of Conduct by CESP™ candidates or certificants to ESPCC.

Section 3: Professional Performance

  1. Deliver competent employment support services.
  2. Act honestly in the conduct of responsibilities and in all professional interactions with others.
  3. Be accountable and responsible for his/her actions and behaviors.
  4. Recognize the limitations of one’s professional ability (based on education, knowledge, skills, experience, etc.) and provide services only when qualified to do so.
  5. Treat recipients of CESP™ services and their employers, families and other supports with fairness and respect.
  6. Maintain the confidentiality of private and sensitive information, unless there is mandate to report or other legal obligation to disclose the information.
  7. Properly use professional titles, degrees and all credentials and provide accurate and truthful information regarding education, experience, qualifications, and the performance of services.
  8. Disclose any conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest and avoid conduct that could cause a conflict of interest.
  9. Uphold high standards of professional behavior at all times in the CESP™ role.
Training Definition (If applying with 9-12 months experience)

Defined as either: 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.

Retest Policy

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.

If you have questions around your eligibility, email cesp@apse.org or call 301-279-0060. If you submit your application and are deemed ineligible to sit for the exam, you will be refunded your application fee minus a nonrefundable $40 processing fee.

For frequently asked questions, visit our FAQ page.

For the Appeal of Adverse Decision Process, please click here.

*Approved candidates are those who meet the eligibility requirements, complete the candidate application, and pay the $199 examination fee by the application deadline.

Follow CESP™ on Twitter and Facebook for information and updates.

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scheduled webinars

Application Q&A:
November 12, 2 pm-3 pm EST
November 20, 11 am- 12 pm EST


Certification Handbook Updated August 2019

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