Article

Top 11 Community Planner Certifications

This article is a guide to the top community planner certifications available, providing an overview of each and helping readers choose the right certification for their career.

Photo of Brenna Goyette
Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications can be a valuable asset to any community planner in the job market. These certifications demonstrate that the planner has acquired specialized knowledge and skills related to their profession, as well as having a commitment to professional development and continuing education. Certifications also provide recognition for the planner’s accomplishments, which can help them stand out from other applicants when seeking employment opportunities. Additionally, certifications may give planners access to exclusive professional networks and resources, helping them stay up-to-date on trends and developments in their field of work. Finally, certifications can provide a sense of assurance to employers that the planner is qualified for the position they are applying for.

This article reviews the top certifications for Community Planners and explains how they can help to enhance the career of a Community Planner.

What are Community Planner Certifications?

Community planner certification is a professional designation that recognizes individuals who have achieved a certain level of competency in the field of community planning. It is awarded by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), which is the only organization recognized by the US Department of Labor as certifying planners. The certification demonstrates that an individual has obtained a certain level of knowledge and experience in the field, meeting educational and professional standards set by AICP.

Having a community planner certification can be beneficial for many reasons. It can help an individual stand out from other job applicants, demonstrate their commitment to their profession, and provide them with access to exclusive networking opportunities. Additionally, it gives them access to resources such as continuing education courses and webinars that can help keep them up-to-date on best practices in the field. Finally, having this certification may also provide access to higher salaries and job opportunities within the community planning sector.

Pro Tip: Make sure to research the requirements and qualifications necessary for a community planner certification before beginning the process. It is important to be aware of the specific steps required to complete the certification, such as educational background, experience, and any additional certifications that may be needed.

Related: What does a Community Planner do?

Top 11 Community Planner Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Community Planners today.

1. Certified Community Planner (CCP)

Certified Community Planner (CCP) is a professional certification program administered by the American Planning Association (APA). It is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of professional competence in community planning. The CCP credential demonstrates that an individual has met the rigorous standards of education, experience and ethical practice set forth by the APA.

The process of becoming a Certified Community Planner typically takes three years. During this time, applicants must complete a minimum of 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours of coursework in planning-related topics from an accredited college or university, as well as at least three years of full-time professional planning experience. Applicants also must pass a written exam administered by the APA.

To apply for CCP certification, applicants must submit an application form and fee to the APA. The fee is currently $250 for members and $350 for nonmembers. Once all requirements are met, applicants will be notified within two weeks if they have been approved for certification.

Certified Community Planners are expected to adhere to a Code of Ethics established by the APA, which outlines principles such as integrity, objectivity, respect for others and responsibility to society. The CCP credential is valid for five years and can be renewed through continuing education credits or reexamination.

2. Certified Professional in Community Planning (CPCP)

Certified Professional in Community Planning (CPCP) is a professional certification program offered by the American Planning Association (APA). It is designed to recognize planners who demonstrate a high level of knowledge and experience in the field of community planning. The CPCP certification is awarded to those who have met rigorous standards for education, experience, and ethical practice.

The process for obtaining the CPCP typically takes two years or more. To qualify for the certification, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements:

- Have a minimum of three years of full-time professional planning experience

- Hold at least a bachelor’s degree in planning or a related field

- Submit an application and pay the required fees

- Pass an examination that tests knowledge and skills in community planning

- Provide letters of reference from current or former supervisors or colleagues

- Complete continuing education activities every three years to maintain certification status

The cost to apply for the CPCP varies depending on whether you are an APA member or nonmember. For APA members, it costs $250; for nonmembers, it costs $350. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with taking the exam.

3. American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)

The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) is a professional institute and certification program for urban and regional planners. It is the only nationally recognized certification program in the United States that identifies planners who have met specific educational, experience, and examination requirements. The AICP was established in 1934 by the American Planning Association (APA) to recognize excellence in planning practice.

To become an AICP-certified planner, one must first meet certain educational requirements. These include having a bachelor's degree in planning or a related field from an accredited college or university, plus two years of professional planning experience. After meeting these requirements, an individual can apply to take the AICP Certification Exam. This exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as land use planning, environmental planning, economic development, housing policy, and community development.

Once an individual has passed the exam and been approved by APA's Certification Maintenance Committee, they will be awarded their AICP Certification. This certificate is valid for five years and must be renewed every five years through continuing education courses offered by APA or other organizations approved by APA.

The cost to take the AICP Certification Exam varies depending on whether you are an APA member or not; if you are not a member it costs $300 to take the exam while members pay $200 for the exam fee. Additionally, there is a $50 application fee that must be paid when submitting your application for certification.

4. National Charrette Institute (NCI)

The National Charrette Institute (NCI) is a non-profit organization that provides training and certification in the practice of charrette facilitation. A charrette is an intensive planning process that brings together stakeholders from a variety of disciplines to collaboratively create a shared vision for a project. NCI’s mission is to promote the use of charrettes as an effective tool for engaging people in the design and planning process.

NCI offers two levels of certification: Certified Charrette Facilitator (CCF) and Master Charrette Facilitator (MCF). The CCF program consists of four days of instruction, while the MCF program consists of seven days. Both programs include lectures, case studies, role-playing exercises, and hands-on activities designed to prepare participants to facilitate successful charrettes.

To become certified as a CCF or MCF, applicants must complete an application form, submit references, and attend the appropriate training program. Applicants must also pass an exam at the end of the program in order to receive their certification.

The cost for attending either program varies depending on location and other factors; however, it typically ranges from $1,500 - $2,500 per person.

5. American Planning Association (APA)

The American Planning Association (APA) is a professional organization that promotes the art, science and profession of planning. The APA works to promote good planning practices and to create better communities through its network of members, affiliates and partners. The organization provides education, training, research, advocacy and technical assistance to its members.

It takes about 3-4 weeks to join the APA online or by mail. To join online, you will need to fill out an application form on the APA website and pay the membership fee. To join by mail, you will need to submit a completed membership application form along with your payment.

The cost of joining the APA depends on your type of membership. There are three levels of membership: Student ($50), Professional ($130), and Lifetime ($1,000). Each level has different benefits associated with it including discounts on publications, access to special events and conferences, access to job postings, and more.

6. Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE)

The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) is an international professional society composed of transportation professionals who are dedicated to advancing the development and application of technology and scientific principles to research, planning, functional design, implementation, operation, policy development and management for any mode of transportation. ITE members work to improve mobility, safety, and access while balancing economic, environmental and community needs.

Membership in ITE is open to anyone with a degree in engineering or related field who has an interest in the field of transportation engineering. It takes approximately two weeks for an application to be processed after it is submitted online. There are several levels of membership available at different costs: Student Membership ($25/year), Professional Membership ($130/year), Retired Membership ($50/year), International Membership ($50/year) and Corporate Membership ($500/year).

7. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP)

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP) is a professional certification program offered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED AP credential recognizes professionals who have demonstrated expertise in green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance. LEED APs are trained to understand the principles of green building design and how they can be applied to projects in order to reduce energy consumption, improve indoor air quality, and ultimately benefit the environment.

The LEED AP credential requires applicants to pass an exam that covers topics such as sustainable site development, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials selection, indoor environmental quality, regional priority credits, and innovation in design. The exam is administered by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).

It typically takes about 6 months for an individual to prepare for the exam and complete all of the requirements for certification. During this time period it is important to stay up-to-date on current green building trends and technologies as well as review relevant material from the USGBC’s website. Additionally, individuals should consider attending workshops or taking classes related to green building topics in order to gain a better understanding of the concepts covered on the exam.

In order to become a LEED AP you must first register with GBCI and pay an application fee of $150 USD. Once registered you may then schedule your exam date at a testing center near you or take it online via remote proctoring. The cost of the exam is $450 USD for members of USGBC or $600 USD for non-members.

Once you have passed the exam you will receive your LEED AP credential which must be renewed every two years through continuing education credits (CEUs). CEUs can be earned by attending conferences or workshops related to green building topics or participating in other activities such as writing articles or presenting webinars on green building topics.

8. Certified Local Government Planner (CLGP)

Certified Local Government Planner (CLGP) is a professional certification program offered by the American Planning Association (APA). It is designed to recognize planners who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in their field and are dedicated to advancing the profession of planning at the local level.

The CLGP program requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge, experience, and commitment to planning through an application process that includes an exam, portfolio review, and interview. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as land use planning, urban design, economic development, environmental protection, community engagement, and more.

It typically takes between six months and one year for applicants to complete the application process and receive their certification. The cost of the program varies depending on the applicant’s location; however, it typically ranges from $500-$1,000.

9. Urban Land Institute’s Sustainable Development Professional Certification Program

The Urban Land Institute’s Sustainable Development Professional Certification Program is a comprehensive training program designed to provide professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to plan, design, develop, and manage sustainable development projects. The program focuses on the principles of sustainability and how they can be applied to urban development. To obtain the certification, participants must complete four courses and pass an exam.

The four courses are:

1) Introduction to Sustainable Development;

2) Planning for Sustainable Development;

3) Designing for Sustainable Development; and

4) Managing Sustainable Development Projects.

Each course consists of online lectures, readings, activities, and discussions that cover topics such as green building practices, resilience planning, climate change adaptation strategies, urban ecology systems, smart growth strategies, economic development strategies, community engagement processes, and public policy considerations. Participants have up to six months from their enrollment date to complete all four courses and take the exam.

To get certified in this program you need to enroll in the program by submitting an application form along with payment of a non-refundable fee of $1125 USD. Once enrolled you will gain access to the online learning platform where you can view lectures and course materials at your own pace. After completing all four courses you will be eligible to take the certification exam which is administered online through ULI’s secure testing system. Upon successful completion of the exam you will receive a certificate acknowledging your achievement as a ULI Sustainable Development Professional (SDPro).

The cost of this certification program is $1125 USD which includes access to all four courses as well as registration for the certification exam.

10. Green Infrastructure Professional Certification Program

Green Infrastructure Professional Certification Program (GIPCP) is a comprehensive program that provides professionals with the knowledge and skills to design, implement, and manage green infrastructure projects. The program is designed to help professionals become certified in green infrastructure practices, including stormwater management, natural resource protection, and urban forestry.

The GIPCP consists of three levels: Level 1 (Foundation), Level 2 (Advanced), and Level 3 (Leadership). Each level requires the completion of online courses, in-person workshops, and fieldwork. The program typically takes 18 months to complete all three levels.

To get started on the GIPCP, applicants must first complete an online application form. Once accepted into the program, applicants can begin taking courses at their own pace. Courses are offered through various organizations such as the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) or the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).

The cost for the GIPCP varies depending on which organizations offer it. Generally speaking, it costs between $2,000-$3,000 for all three levels of certification. This cost includes tuition fees for courses and workshops as well as materials needed for fieldwork assignments.

11. International Association for Public Participation Certification Program

The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Certification Program is a professional credentialing program that provides recognition of the knowledge, skills and abilities required to effectively practice public participation. It is designed to recognize practitioners who have demonstrated a high level of competency in the field.

The IAP2 Certification Program consists of two core components: the Core Competencies Course and the Certificate Examination. The Core Competencies Course is an online course that covers the eight core competencies required for effective public participation practice. The Certificate Examination tests the participant's knowledge and understanding of the eight core competencies.

It typically takes approximately three months to complete both components of the IAP2 Certification Program. To get certified, participants must first register for the Core Competencies Course, which can be done online or by mail. Once registered, participants will receive access to the course materials and will have six weeks to complete it. After completing the course, participants must then register for and pass the Certificate Examination within one year in order to become certified.

The cost of certification varies depending on whether you are a member or non-member of IAP2. For members, certification costs $450 USD; for non-members, it costs $600 USD.

Do You Really Need a Community Planner Certificate?

The short answer is no, you do not need a community planner certificate to become a successful community planner. However, having a certificate can be beneficial in certain situations and may help to give you an edge over other applicants.

A community planner certificate demonstrates that you have the necessary knowledge and skills to perform the job effectively. It also shows potential employers that you are committed to your profession, as it requires dedication and hard work to complete the coursework required for certification. Additionally, many employers prefer to hire certified professionals because they tend to possess more experience and expertise than non-certified individuals.

In addition, having a community planner certificate may also open up more opportunities for advancement within your field. Employers often look favorably on job applicants who have taken the initiative to obtain additional certifications or qualifications beyond their initial degree program. Having a recognized credential can give them confidence in your abilities and make them more likely to consider you for positions with greater responsibility or pay.

Finally, earning a community planner certificate can provide you with professional networking opportunities that could prove invaluable down the road. Many organizations offer conferences, seminars, and other events specifically designed for certified planners; attending these events can give you access to valuable contacts and resources that could help advance your career in the future.

In conclusion, while it is not strictly necessary for success as a community planner, obtaining a certificate can certainly be beneficial in many ways. With its combination of knowledge acquisition and professional networking opportunities, this credential should be seriously considered by anyone looking to break into or advance their career in this field.

Related: Community Planner Resume Examples

FAQs About Community Planner Certifications

1. What is a Community Planner Certification?

A Community Planner Certification is an official certification that demonstrates a professional’s knowledge and proficiency in urban and regional planning principles, practices, and techniques. The certification is awarded by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

2. How do I become certified?

To become certified, you must have a master's degree in urban or regional planning from an accredited program and must have completed at least three years of professional planning experience. You must then pass the AICP exam to be eligible for certification.

3. What are the benefits of being certified?

Having a Community Planner Certification demonstrates your commitment to professional excellence and can help you stand out among other job applicants in the field. It also provides employers with assurance that you have comprehensive knowledge of urban and regional planning principles, practices, and techniques.

4. Is there an expiration date on my certification?

No, once you are awarded the certification it does not expire. However, AICP requires recertification every five years to ensure that planners maintain their knowledge of current trends and best practices in the field.

5. Are there any continuing education requirements for certified planners?

Yes, AICP requires all certified planners to complete at least 30 hours of continuing education credits every three years in order to maintain their certification status.