The International Association of Administrative Professionals, or IAAP, offers a Certified Professional Secretary, or CPS, certification that you can earn by taking college classes or earning a college degree, by working for a company as a secretary and by passing the CPS exam. The CPS certification demonstrates that you have a basic knowledge of office systems, technology, office administration and management, and that you can apply best practices in human relations and communications in your job. According to the IAAP, certified professional secretaries earn more than secretaries who are not certified.
The CPS exam has three parts: Office Systems and Technology; Office Administration; and Management. You have to take and pass all three parts in a three-year period. After your first try, you can re-take only the parts you haven't passed yet. Once you've passed all three parts in a three-year period, you've earned the CPS Certification. If you fail to pass after six tries, you have to pay your money and start all over again.
Education and Experience Requirements
You need a combination of education and work experience before you can be certified. If you don't have a college degree, you need four years of work experience. If you have an associate's degree, you need three years of experience. If you have a bachelor's degree, you need two years of experience. You must work at a single employer for at least one year before any of your work experience is accepted.
The CPS certification is valid for five years. While your certification is active, you must earn 90 points in three categories to recertify at the end of the five-year period. The three categories are Continuing Education, Other Certifications or IAAP Specialties, and Leadership. Refer to the Application for CAP Recertification for a list of activities you can perform to earn points.
Certification Exam Logisitics
The certification test is offered twice a year, in May and November. You must apply by Feb. 15 to take the May exam and by Aug. 15 to take the November exam. You can apply to take an exam while you're still in the process of completing your experience requirement. You find out whether you passed each part of the exam about 45 days after you take the tests.
Steve McDonnell's experience running businesses and launching companies complements his technical expertise in information, technology and human resources. He earned a degree in computer science from Dartmouth College, served on the WorldatWork editorial board, blogged for the Spotfire Business Intelligence blog and has published books and book chapters for International Human Resource Information Management and Westlaw.