Which Certification(s) Should I Pursue?

I have missed blogging over the past nearly three months. Since you may be thinking that I exhausted all my ideas to blog about, I want you to know that I have thoughts to share. I felt the need to stop blogging because I needed to concentrate on studying for the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) Certification Exam, which I took and barely failed on November 10. In case you are curious about how comprehensive the 170-question (only 150 questions are scored) exam is, it covers the following five major topic areas:

Fundamental Planning Knowledge (25% of exam content)
Plan Making and Implementation (30% of exam content)
Areas of Practice (30% of exam content)
Leadership, Administration and Management (5% of exam content)
AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (10% of exam content)

While I thought Planning Prep’s free practice exams and questions would help me prepare for the exam, I learned the hard way that the exam questions were very different from the practice questions on Planning Prep. This website was created in 2001 and the exam has changed several times with the most recent change occurring in 2017, so I am not too surprised that Planning Prep has not been able to keep up with the exam changes. I learned helpful planning knowledge while using Planning Prep, so I see a silver lining. Hopefully, Planetizen’s $255 AICP Exam Preparation Class will better prepare me for the exam. Since I do not want to forget what I studied for the past two months and want to stop stressing about the exam as soon as possible, I plan to retake it in May 2020. I will have to keep putting my blog on hold so I can prioritize studying again.

As the title of this post shows, my decision about whether to keep pursuing the AICP was not an easy decision. This decision has become harder over the years because I have learned that other planning-related certifications exist. I was only focused on the AICP when I was evaluating where to attend grad school. Even though there are other planning-related certifications, Portland State University’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program only promotes the AICP on its website. I graduated from PSU’s MURP program in June 2016.

Which certification(s) should I pursue?

Since I thought it was automatically assumed that all MURP alumni would pursue the AICP like I believe all engineers pursue the Professional Engineer (PE), I have been surprised to learn that many MURP alumni do not plan to pursue the AICP. While I still plan to pursue the AICP, I wanted to share other certifications that I may pursue in the future.

My job involves working on Transportation Demand Management (TDM) projects. The Association for Commuter Transportation is launching the TDM-Certified Professional (TDM-CP) in Spring 2020. Since many TDM professionals are planning to pursue or have the AICP, will our profession consider the TDM-CP as prestigious as the AICP?

TDM-CP Promo Image

Another planning-related certification is the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU)’s CNU-Accredited (CNU-A). My review of comments on Cyburbia comparing CNU-A to AICP shows that many planners view the CNU-A as a scam and the AICP as credible. Since both certifications have similar processes, it appears the main reason why the CNU-A is viewed as a scam is it was launched after the AICP.

CNUa-High-Res-300x300

Since I manage public engagement projects, I am considering the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2)’s Certified Public Participation Professional (CP3) or Master Certified Public Participation Professional (MCP3). These certifications are also pursued by planners that have the AICP.

IAP2 Certification

Michigan State University’s National Charrette Institute has a Charrette Certificate Program that looks similar to the IAP2’s certification program. As you may remember, I helped manage the planning, execution, and follow-up for a five-day intensive community planning charrette for the City of Alexandria, VA. Since my dad graduated from The Ohio State University (alumni really do emphasize “The”) and my maternal grandma watches OSU sports when I visit her, I doubt they would enjoy me going through a Michigan State University program. I guess it could be worse. The program could be through the University of Michigan, which is OSU’s archrival.

NCI

While I do not use GIS as much as I used to during previous jobs, I have thought about pursuing the Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP) someday. Since I do not have four years of full-time GIS experience yet, I do not qualify to apply for the GISP yet.

GISCIlogo

Before I started studying for the AICP this year, I took three project management courses at Clackamas Community College. My teacher has been encouraging me to keep taking courses after I pass the AICP. He has been persuading me to pursue Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

pmp

I am exhausted just thinking about all of these certifications! Most of them require an exam and the application processes are not cheap. Since it appears most planners see the AICP as the most prestigious planning-related certification, I plan to start with this certification. Do you think I should pursue other certifications after I get the AICP or is one certification enough?

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