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

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.

101: Basics of Certification

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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.


Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP™) Candidate Handbook

Updated March 2020

Requirements for Eligibility

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.

Eligibility requirements for test-takers include

  1. Education,
  2. Work Experience, and
  3. Code of Conduct prerequisites

This is 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.

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 first day of the testing window of their first testing.

Individuals who sit for the exam and do not pass are able to retest for the exam. Exam applicants must resubmit the application, meet eligibility requirements, and pay the applicable exam fees.

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.

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