The Certified Environmental Professional (CEP) Program began in 1979. In that first year, ten environmental professionals were awarded the CEP designation. Since then, the CEP logo has been trademarked by the US Patent & Trademark Office, and the credential has achieved international recognition.
At its inception, the CEP Program operated under the auspices of the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP), and the CEP credential could only be awarded to NAEP members. Because of that limitation, the number of CEPs remained small. In 1993, after 14 years of operation, NAEP transferred the CEP program itself to a subsidiary body -- ABCEP -- which continues to operate the program today.
In 1999, ABCEP was incorporated as a non-profit organization, independent of NAEP. Since then, the CEP designation has been made available to the broader environmental community. As a result, the number of CEPs has grown, and several organizations, in addition to NAEP, endorse ABCEP as their recommended organization for certification.
The certification program is managed by a group of volunteer professionals. From 1979 to 1986, it was chaired by Sherman Rosen. The role of the chair was assumed by Charles F. Zirzow in 1986 and then by Dr. Robert A. Michaels in 1993.
When are applications accepted ?
Applications are accepted at any time – there is no application deadline. Once your application is complete, it is sent to the certification review board, and the review typically takes 2-3 months. An application is considered to be complete when we have your application with the essays, the application fee, your academic transcripts, and five of the eight letters of reference.
When do I send in an application?
When you have decided to apply, please submit your $200 application fee. At that point, we will open a file in your name. You can pay online using paypal, with a check or credit card (Master Card or Visa). If you pay on-line click Apply Now; select New Application and complete all of the Basic Information. select the PayNow button on the payment page and use either your paypal account or your credit card.
When should I ask my references to send their letters ?
Ask them as soon as you have decided to apply; otherwise your application may be held up by tardy letters of recommendation. Ideally, the references should be other CEPs or individuals who hold a similar professional certification. Letters generally are 3-5 paragraphs long (1-2 pages). There is no standard form for them to fill out, but we do have a standardized request form. Letters can be sent to the ABCEP office by mail or e-mail. Mail is preferred, because then we have an original signature, but we also accept e-mailed references.
When should I request my academic transcripts ?
As with the letters of recommendation, ask your college/graduate school to send us the transcript once you have made the decision to apply. We will create an application file in your name when your first letter or transcript arrives.
How is the test administered ? What happens once the application has been submitted ?
The exam is a self-proctored, open-book, take-home examination, so you can take the examination at any location convenient to you. When you have finished your essays and completed the other parts of the application package, you submit the responses electronically - via e-mail - to the Academy for review. We need a signed original, so you will mail us a printout as well.
When we have a complete application, it is sent to the Chairman of the Certification Review Board who selects seven peer professionals to review your application and grade the test. One of the seven is the lead reviewer. The panel members read the materials and make recommendations to the lead reviewer. Panel members also may suggest certain questions to be asked during the interview. An interview is held generally over the telephone. The lead reviewer then recommends to the chair that the candidate has passed and met the requirements to be a CEP -- or not. The chair conducts a final review of the documentation and the applicant is informed of the decision. Because the panel members are volunteers, the review process typically takes 2-3 months.
What is covered in the CEP examination ?
The examination is a series of essay questions. While you have great flexibility in selecting which of the questions you will answer, keep in mind that you are seeking to demonstrate that you have the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) of a senior environmental professional. If you are unsure of the expected KSAs, contact the Academy and we can provide additional clarification.
In writing your answers, please keep the following in mind: Your goal is to demonstrate that you have a mastery of the core technical principles in the environmental profession. Also show that you have knowledge of how to utilize data, information sources and emerging research to support decision making in the context of regulatory and scientific uncertainty. Write clearly - a professional must have a mastery of reasoning and presentation skills so that he/she can communicate with colleagues and the non-technical public effectively, with credibility and persuasiveness, both orally and in writing.
How was the examination process developed and how is it validated ?
The certification program operates on the basis of peer review, similar to that of other evaluation systems such as the American jury system and the systems in the US and abroad for evaluating research proposals, scientific manuscripts, and applications for academic appointments or tenure. The examination has been successfully applied for 25 years, and the CEP credential has been recognized by courts around the country as a valid credential for senior professionals in the environmental field. ABCEP is a member of the Council of Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards, which provides accrediting for engineering and technology certification programs.
Why would someone not be certified ?
About 15-20% of applications are rejected each year. Some candidates are rejected because their responses on the essay examination are inadequate. You have up to four pages for each answer. Candidates have also been rejected because they claimed academic credentials from on-line "degree mills," which are bogus universities that confer degrees for little or no study.
Another common reason for denial is insufficient senior management experience. The CEP is the credential for senior environmental managers, and it is only awarded to individuals who have at least five years of experience at that level. Note that an independent consultant may spend 20-40% of their time doing administration and marketing, so he/she would need to have more than five years of independent consulting to accrue the five years of senior environmental management experience.
What does a "senior environmental manager" do? Why would someone not be certified ?
"Responsible charge" -- You are directing environmental work, such that successful completion of the work is dependent on decisions made by you. You may be seeking advice or input from others, but the final approval rests on your shoulders. If you are a member of a team, you are the team leader.
"Responsible supervision" -- You are supervising work conducted by another professionals and you assume the professional responsibility for the work that they do.
Will I be informed about the status of my application ?
ABCEP tries to keep candidates informed about the status, but given the number of applications under review this is not always possible. If you have questions, feel free to contact the office by telephone or by e-mail. Our goal is to report on the results of your examination within four months after receiving a completed application (the application form and essay exam, the letters of recommendation, and the transcripts).
How can I provide input into the policies and decisions of ABCEP ?
There are many ways you can make your voice heard.
Attend our annual meeting of the Academy and of the Certification Review Board and voice your views.
Submit comments to ABCEP.
Contact ABCEP Trustees.
Run for election to be an ABCEP Trustee or volunteer to serve on the Certification Review Board.
How can I provide input into the policies and decisions of ABCEP ?
The CEP is a senior professional credential. The purpose of the CEP designation is to provide recognition to qualified, experienced individuals.
The primary conditions of eligibility are as follows:
A minimum of nine years of applicable professional environmental experience, five years of which must be in a position of responsible charge and/or responsible supervision.
- Professional environmental experience: This refers to actual work in the environmental profession. If 25% of a job is activities not relating to the environmental profession, then the tally of a candidates professional experience would be reduced by that amount.
- Education credits: Advanced degree work may be substituted for one or two years of the required time, but all applicants must have at least five years of responsible charge/supervision experience. The institution must be accredited by a body recognized by the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation.
- Responsible charge is: the direction of environmental work by an environmental professional such that successful completion of the work is dependent on decisions made by that person without advice or approval of others.
- Responsible supervision is: the supervision of another professional person's work by an environmental professional such that the supervisor assumes the professional responsibility for the work.
- A Bachelor's Degree and nine or more years of professional experience, or
- A Master's Degree and eight or more years of professional experience, or
- A Doctorate and seven or more years of professional experience.
Who supports the CEP Program ?
While some people pay for the application fee from their own pocket, we have found that many businesses and agencies will pay your $250 application fee and the $125 yearly fee to maintain your certification after you have been accepted. As a prospective applicant, you also should be aware that firms such as Enviro-Sciences, HDR and HNTB recognize the value of the CEP, and they have awarded bonuses or salary increases of $1,000 or more to staff who earn the CEP designation.