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. We recommend seeking letters from eight references to ensure that at least five letters are submitted to ABCEP.

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). The letters should provide context of your professional relationship and provide evidence towards your application that you meet the qualifications of the CEP, including providing examples when appropriate. 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 do I demonstrate my experience in the application?
Your application is the review panel’s only view into your experience and the only way they are able to get to know you. The application includes sections for education, additional courses (professional level) and professional organizations, and experience by position. All sections should be filled out fully and not rely on resumes to provide information. Provide detailed descriptions of work duties including how those relate specifically to the CEP application. The professional experience needs to include specificity for responsible charge/supervisor. Provide the number of months claimed for each position in the description. For example, if you have 12 months in a position and claim 50% responsible charge then that position would give you 6 months of responsible charge/supervisor. 

What are functional areas?
We ask that applicants identify whether their career path might fall under one of six functional areas.  Identifying with a functional area is not required but makes it easier for the review panel to understand how your experience relates to the environmental field. The functional areas are described below.
  • Environmental Assessment: evaluation of risks to; or past impacts upon the occupants of ecosystems, workplaces, or residences exerted by physical, chemical, or biological agents to which exposure may occur.
  • Environmental Documentation: preparation of reports, presentation of facts, and completion of other actions to establish administrative records demonstrating compliance with environmental statutes, regulations, and permits.
  • Environmental Operations: management of facilities in accordance with requirements of environmental statutes, regulations, and permits.
  • Environmental Planning: arrangement for future facility construction, operation, and/or management in accordance with anticipated requirements of environmental statutes, regulations, and permits; this can include permit renewals.
  • Environmental Research and Education: Conducting and reporting on original investigations into the dynamics of environmental phenomena, and teaching about such phenomena as investigated by oneself and/or other investigators.
  • Environmental Sustainability: Evaluation of sustainability in planning and project implementation, and preparation of project and development plans that integrate longterm viability of resources into environmental practice.

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. 

When we have a complete application, it is sent to the Chairperson 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 whether the candidate has passed and met the requirements to be a CEP. 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. Should a candidate not meet the requirements of a CEP due to limited years of experience, they are encouraged to apply or re-apply as a CEP-In Training (CEP-IT).

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. The essay responses are similar to college admission essays, and should convince us why you should be a CEP by demonstrating your experiences and career growth with examples from your career that demonstrate KSAs. Note that the essay questions are intended to be a starting point to demonstrate your experience and are not expected to be simply answered. If you are still unsure of the expected KSAs, contact the Academy and we direct you to an Applicant Navigator. 

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. Please copy the question to the top of your essay answer so the review panel is sure of which question is being answered. The essays are numbered…it is requested that the essay question be included at the top of the essay responses to help facilitate review by ABCEP. 

Applicants will be asked to answer three questions within only your requested area of certification, along with Questions 1 and 2, which are the same for each certification area.

Applicants are not required to select a functional area; and if an applicant selects not to designate a functional area, they can select to respond to three essay questions from any of the six functional area categories but still must answer the mandatory Questions 1 and 2.

The maximum allowable length for each essay is four pages. Members of the Certification Review Board will not know you, so they must make a judgment based on three things -- your knowledge (as demonstrated by you in the essays), your background (as described by you in your application) and your qualifications (as described in statements made by your references). Therefore, these letters of reference are an important part of the review.

If you are interested in the CEP-IT you do not need to submit any essays as part of the CEP-IT application process.

If you are interested in the CEP by Eminence you do not need to submit responses to the standard essays, but you will be asked to provide a response to a specific essay question that will be provided to you.

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 40 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, science and technology certification programs.

Why would someone not be certified?
About 15-20% of applications are rejected each year. The majority of candidates are rejected because their responses on the essay examination are inadequate, meaning that they barely answer the question posed without the applicant providing a robust, thoughtful, and thorough answer with real life experience. A typically acceptable answer is two to four pages.  All submittals must be no greater than four pages.
Another common reason for denial is insufficient senior environmental professional experience, called Responsible Charge / Responsible Supervision. The CEP is the credential for mid and senior environmental professionals, and it is only awarded to individuals who have at least five years of Responsible Charge / Responsible Supervision. The Responsible Charge/Supervision must be for environmental professional activities.
While less common, some candidates are rejected due to inadequate education. A bachelor’s degree in an environmental-related program from a recognized college or university is required. If you have a non-traditional education or non-US based college degree, please contact the ABCEP Office prior to submitting your application. 

What does a "senior environmental manager" do?
"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.

What is the Eminence Pathway to the CEP? 
ABCEP offers a second pathway to becoming certified. Environmental Professionals who qualify to apply using this pathway are those that have had a full environmental career and have dedicated much of that time to giving back to the profession. Applicants for this designation are required to demonstrate at least 20 years of experience as well as provide a portfolio demonstrating they are highly qualified. This matrix will help you identify if you have appropriate experience for your portfolio. Candidates complete the Ethics Challenge essay question but the portfolio replaces the requirement to submit the other essays. 

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:
Work Experience:
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 application fee and annual dues 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.

Still have questions?
Please CONTACT ABCEP at office@abcep.org if you have any questions regarding the CEP Program or if you would like to have a mentor assigned to help you through the application process.