Wendy Lowe: Improve your professional status!
Give your career a boost –
Get Certified by IAP2
Prove to your customers, employers, clients, or co-workers that you are a skilled and knowledgeable p2 practitioner. Many of us work in professional isolation, surrounded by other sorts of professionals like engineers, health care specialists, educators, or environmental scientists. When they question our professional judgment, we wonder, how can I prove that I know what I am doing?
Get Certified! Architects do it, engineers do it, facilitators do it, and public relations specialists do it. The idea is hardly new. Here is an example from another profession, the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), which certifies planners. Their website reads:
“The most recent APA/AICP Planners Salary Survey shows that certified planners earn more than non-certified planners, even when experience and responsibility are considered. It also opens more career opportunities, and can enhance a planner’s professional credibility.”
The same website goes on to note:
“Planners with an AICP certification have the academic qualifications, relevant work experience, and mastery of essential skills required to serve communities effectively. Hiring a certified planner demonstrates your commitment to the highest standard of ethical practice.”
Until 2015, no professional organization offered this type of rigorous vetting for Public Participation Practitioners (P2 Practitioners). The time is now, the opportunity is here, IAP2 USA now offers professional certification! IAP2’s certification program will do for P2 Practitioners what AICP has done for planners.
What exactly is professional certification? Professional certification entails independent verification by a panel of expert peers that a candidate has the qualifications to perform against a set of standards developed by the profession. Candidates can’t just brag about what they know and can do. Practitioners have to prove it by completing an assessment and demonstrating that they meet the core competencies required to do quality public participation work.
“I already took the IAP2 training. Why am I not certified?” Taking a training program, no matter how rigorous and well designed, does not provide validation of a candidate’s capability of using the information taught in a training program without formal testing and assessment.
IAP2’s Foundations Program is a 5-day training developed by practitioners for practitioners and covers the basic, essential information and skills all practitioners need to design, implement, and evaluate an effective public participation program. One of the reasons the Foundations program was renamed – from Certificate training – in 2014 was to avoid this misconception about “certification.” IAP2 USA has adopted this training because it covers the basic principles, information, and essential skills that are necessary for effective and ethical work in our field. There is no other training program that covers that material. For that reason, IAP2 USA’s Professional Certification program includes a pre-requisite of having completed the Foundations training program. Taking the training is a good start, but it is not enough. Certification can be earned after that training has been put into practice – much like a doctor doing a residency program.
The Certification Program is much more than a 5-day training program. It is based on a set of core competencies, developed in consultation with IAP2 members from around the world. It entails a three-step process designed to evaluate candidates’ performance against those core competencies. Submission of an application and portfolio of work products allows candidates to document prior work. Development of a response to a case study allows candidates to demonstrate their ability to perform P2 work. Finally, candidates have the opportunity to demonstrate a set of skills that are hard to verify using only written evidence at an in-person Assessment Center. These three steps provide the proof that candidates have what it takes to earn the highest credential for working in our field.
You can do it! Get Certified!
Raise the standards for the field of public participation and do your part to improve the practice. Those who achieve certification are a reflection on IAP2. Like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, the professional certification program provides tangible evidence that IAP2 USA as an organization stands behind those who are certified and documents the organization’s confidence that they are capable of delivering public participation work that meets the highest standards and adheres to the ethical principles and core values that guide IAP2.
Please visit the IAP2 USA Certification webpage for further information about this new program. And if you are excited to have the body of your work evaluated, please submit an application by May 26 to be eligible for the next Assessment Center!