Certifying Generalists vs Specialists
New Expectations for Conferences

Retiring a Certification

Not a lot is written about why or how to retire (disband, discontinue) a certification.  Few certifying organizations have policies addressing this potential situation and without a policy, programs tend to linger on, especially when there's politics involved (and when isn't there?).

Here are the minimum components that should be included in a policy and associated procedures:

Circumstances leading to retirement consideration / decision - such as declining trends in number of applicants, number of certificants recertifying, revenue earned, value by stakeholders

Decision - who are the decision-makers and by what margin does a retirement motion get approved

Communications - to whom, how and when will the retired certification decision be communicated

Timeline - in general terms, when will the last application cycle / test administration occur (the key point here is to give sufficient notice to stakeholders)

Future Plan  - what happens to individuals already certified (must they cease using the designation at a given point in time, will they be able to maintain the credential indefinitely through ongoing recertification requirements, etc.)

If you are evaluating your certifications on a regular basis (you are, right?!), then you should readily have the data to trigger that certification retirement discussion, when warranted.


David M. Patt, CAE

What about professionals who retire shortly after letting their certification lapse? (I came across a former? CAE in that category).

They aren't covered by retirement policies, yet they keep using the credential.

Sometimes, it's good publicity for the association and the certification even if the professional no longer meets continuing education requirements.

That situation is not often considered in policy-making.

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