By Kari Tietjen, APSE
Are you looking for ways to assist employment staff with professional development? Or are you already working as an Employment Support Professional, and you would like to strengthen your skillset?
Either way, this article outlines the Certified Employment Support Professional™ (CESP) certification offered by APSE. APSE is a national non-profit membership organization dedicated to Employment First, a vision that all people with disabilities have a right to competitive employment in an inclusive workforce.
The CESP credential was created by subject matter experts and leaders in the field of disability employment and is designed for Employment Support Professionals (ESPs). ESPs are often called job coaches or job developers, transition employment specialists, job placement personnel, or employment specialists/consultants.
“The CESP™ credential embodies going above and beyond expectations.
As a result, the job seekers, the business community, and government partners recognize it as a symbol of quality and pride.”
— Tashara Tolbert, Employment Consultant, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Currently, there are over 3,100 CESP certified professionals who applied for and passed the examination, testing them on established benchmarks in employment supports. The requirements for test-takers include education (a minimum of a high school diploma/equivalent) and work experience prerequisites (read more here). Applicants must also sign the Code of Conduct agreement. The examination is for entry-level professionals, with at least 9 months to 1+ years of experience in their role.
The role of an ESP to support competitive, integrated employment is complex and requires the professional to be adaptable to a variety of settings. Professionals who regularly attend training and are active members of professional organizations exemplify dedication to best practices. To maintain one’s CESP credential, individuals must recertify every 3 years to show continued professional development. Professional development is accomplished by either completing 36 continuing education credits or passing the certification examination.
Organizational executives and managers can support staff by encouraging ESPs to become certified and attend training sessions. The CESP Content Outline is a great tool to guide you through the process. Organizations can use the Content Outline for planning professional development with staff to identify areas to focus training, and meet their ongoing educational requirements.
By encouraging professional growth and learning, organizations benefit from a committed workforce who is aware of their training requirements (equals to 12 hours per year, or 1 hour per month), and better prepared to support inclusive employment.
The examination is offered every other month in all 50 states. Eligible candidates must apply during an application window.