CAP Certification Program FAQ

CAP-faq-graphicThe CAP is going through the official NCCA accreditation process and, naturally, some things are changing. The following are some of the more frequently asked questions about the process—and what it means to those who are certified and those who hope to become certified in the future. 

Q: Why is obtaining the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accreditation important for IAAP and CAP** designees?

A: Earning NCCA accreditation will raise the bar for current and future CAP designees by enabling the Certification Program and the Certification Administrative Board (CAB) to demonstrate it has met the stringent standard set by the credentialing community. It will help CAP stand out as the only accredited certification for administrative professionals world-wide. Accreditation for professional certification programs provides impartial, third-party validation that our program has met recognized national and international credentialing industry standards for development, implementation, and maintenance of certification programs.

Q: I have heard the CAP recertification requirements are changing, how will that affect me?

A: It will affect CAP designees very little and in many ways, make it much easier to track recertification.

Q: How do I find out when my CAP designation is due to be recertified?

A: The Certification Program and CAB is making it much easier to calculate when a certified individual is due to recertify. Recertification dates are either May 31 or November 30. The May date is for the spring designees who in their history took the exam before June 1 and November is for fall designees who took their exam after June 1. For instance, if you acquired your CAP in March 2014, your recertification deadline is May 31, 2019.

In 2018, we will be moving from a five-year to a three-year recertification cycle. This will not affect current CAP designees until it is time for their current five-year cycle to end, then they will have a three-year cycle. Using the above example, upon recertification by May 31, 2019 the new recertification date will be May 31, 2022. Beginning with the Spring 2018 CAP testing, all going forward will be required to recertify every three-years. We are not changing the recommended number of professional development points. It will remain at an average of 12 points per year, making the requirement 36 points every three-years.

Q: Can certified individuals recertify early?

A: Yes, CAP designees can recertify 6 months earlier than their due date. However, this does not change the date going forward or the time-period for reporting recertification points. The whole idea behind recertification is the maintenance of competencies and skills assessed by earning and retaining your CAP certification. Our goal is for you stay at the certified level of knowledge and therefore should obtain a certain amount of points each three-year cycle.

Q: I am looking at retiring. Will I be required to obtain the same number of recertification points to keep my designation?  

A: If you want to maintain the CAP certification you need to maintain the designated amount of recertification points over the designated period of recertification and document this in your application for recertification.

Q: If I currently hold the CAP certification, but I am planning to retire and don’t want to maintain recertification points, what will happen to my CAP that I worked so hard to obtain?   

A: A new designation is being rolled out and will be available by the end of 2017, which is not an active certification, but allows you to use a classification of CAP (Ret.). If this option is not selected, you can not to use the CAP designation upon retirement without noting the Retired Status. A one-time administrative transition fee will be charged.

Q: Will I have to pay for the NEW classification of CAP (Ret.)?    

A: Yes, there will be a one-time administrative transition fee to switch over to this new life-long classification.

Q: If I decide to retire and pay to switch over to the new retired designation but later find I am returning to the work force, can I go back to using my CAP designation?  

A: Yes, individuals who obtain the CAP (Ret.) designation have the following requirements to reactivate their CAP status.

  1. If the application is within two years of the last date of being a CAP in good standing, you can submit the Reactivation Application and Administrative Reactivation Fee. Such individuals are exempt from the professional development requirement required in recertification, but will be required to meet all requirements on subsequent recertification.
  2. If more than two years has passed since the last date of being a CAP in good standing, the individual must meet eligibility requirements, submit a qualifying application and fees, retake the examination, and achieve a passing examination score.

Q: I hold a CPS credential earned prior to 1990. Do I have to obtain recertification points to retain this designation?   

A: No, there are no changes to this policy. Once the CPS was retired, recertification was not required. You may use the CPS for life. If you wish to obtain the CAP credential you may take the exam and earn this additional credential.

Q: Do I need to transition my CAP to retired status immediately upon my retirement or can I wait?   

A: You should wait and transition at the time your recertification is due. A benefit of waiting is that any additional points earned could be applied to recertification, if your retirement status changes.

Q: Why is recertification through professional development or transitioning to the retired status necessary for me to maintain use of the CAP designation?

A: Most credentials outside of college/university degrees are not life-long credentials. They need to be maintained because they indicate a specific area of continued competency, which must be frequently refreshed and expanded. There are many types of credentials ranging from college degrees to certifications. The three most commonly confused are certifications, licenses, and certificates.

  • A certification program is designed to test the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform a particular job, and, upon successfully passing a certification exam, to represent a declaration of a particular individual’s professional competence. Like most professional certifications, the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) is a voluntary process to recognize competencies and a continued dedication to maintaining these competencies through a recertification process.
  • Similarly, licensure tests an individual’s competence but is a mandatory process by which the government grants time-limited permission for that licensed individual to practice his or her profession.
  • In contrast to certification and licensure, an assessment-based certificate program, such as CAP’s Organizational Management (OM), is an educational or training program that is used to teach learning objectives and assess whether the student achieved those objectives. Documenting continued professional development activities with a process for renewal of the certificate is very rare. Once granted a process similar to recertification is not required.

Q: How do I locate qualified training for my CAP recertification?   

A: In today’s information rich world, there are many ways to obtain quality professional development and continued education. IAAP offers many opportunities, such as conferences (Summit), workshops (local LAN sponsored events and webinars), online learning (learn@IAAP), and self-study (Crisp 50-minute books and Options Technology Modules). However, CAP designees are not required or even expected to earn all their points through IAAP. Each CAP designee should develop their personalized professional development plan based on their individual professional career path and goals.

Here are some sources for quality professional development options, outside of IAAP:

  • Colleges and University courses both credit and noncredit
  • Lynda.com
  • Ed2go.com
  • HigherEd.org (list free and low-cost education aligned to the CAP Body of Knowledge)

All training programs must align with one of the seven CAP Domains (Organizational Communication; Business Writing and Document Production; Technology and Information Distribution; Office and Records Management; Event and Project Management; Human Resources; Financial Functions).

Q: Will the CAP Body of Knowledge (Exam Outline) be updated soon?

A: Yes, we just completed a Job Task Analysis, which is required to be conducted a minimum of every five years. The results are analyzed by psychometricians, a focus group of practicing CAP designees, and the Certification Manager, recommendations are presented to CAB. The revised CAP Body of Knowledge will be in effect for the Fall 2018 exam.

Q: Will the CAP Study Guide and CAP Exam Prep SmartBook also be updated?

A: Yes, the study materials will be updated and available for purchase in early 2018.


Visit the website to learn more about the CAP.

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