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Top 11 Public Relations Officer Certifications

This article provides an overview of the most popular certifications for public relations officers, including their requirements, benefits, and potential career paths.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are important for a public relations officer in the job market as they demonstrate a level of expertise in the field. Having certifications can give employers confidence that potential employees have the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in their roles. Furthermore, certification programs often provide continuing education opportunities which can help keep public relations officers up-to-date on industry trends and best practices. Certifications also serve as an important networking tool, providing access to professional groups and organizations that can be invaluable when looking for new opportunities or advice from experienced professionals. Ultimately, certifications can help public relations professionals stand out from the competition and show employers they’re serious about their profession.

The purpose of this article is to review some of the top certifications for Public Relations Officers and explain how they can help to enhance and advance their career.

What are Public Relations Officer Certifications?

Public relations officer certification is a professional designation that demonstrates a person's knowledge and expertise in public relations. It is awarded by recognized public relations organizations, such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), after an individual has completed a comprehensive program of study and passed an examination. The certification serves as proof of a person's commitment to high standards of professionalism, ethical behavior, and technical proficiency in the field of public relations.

The primary benefit of obtaining public relations officer certification is that it enhances an individual's credibility and marketability as a professional. Certified professionals are better equipped to compete for higher-level jobs and command higher salaries than their non-certified counterparts. Additionally, the certification provides access to exclusive online resources and networking opportunities with other certified practitioners. Finally, many employers require or prefer candidates who possess professional certifications when hiring for certain positions within their organization.

In summary, public relations officer certification is an important credential that can help individuals stand out from the competition when applying for jobs or advancing their careers in the field of public relations.

Pro Tip: When considering a public relations officer certification, make sure to research the requirements and make sure it is accredited by a reputable organization. Additionally, look for courses that offer hands-on experience or mentorship opportunities to better prepare you for the role.

Related: What does a Public Relations Officer do?

Top 11 Public Relations Officer Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Public Relations Officers today.

1. Certified Public Relations Professional (CPRP)

Certified Public Relations Professional (CPRP) is a professional designation awarded by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) to individuals who demonstrate mastery of public relations principles and practices. The CPRP credential recognizes the highest level of achievement in public relations and is a mark of distinction for those who have achieved it.

To become a Certified Public Relations Professional, applicants must meet certain requirements, such as having at least five years of experience in the field or having completed an accredited public relations program. They must also pass an exam administered by PRSA that covers topics such as communication strategy, media relations, crisis management, and research and measurement.

The process to become certified takes approximately three months from start to finish. Applicants must first submit their application online, which includes providing proof of experience or education in public relations. Once the application is approved, they can register for the exam and pay the associated fee. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and typically takes about two hours to complete. After passing the exam, applicants receive their CPRP certification within 30 days.

The cost to apply for the CPRP certification is $350 USD for members of PRSA or $450 USD for non-members. In addition, there is an additional fee of $200 USD for taking the exam itself.

2. Accredited in Public Relations (APR)

Accredited in Public Relations (APR) is a professional credential that recognizes public relations practitioners who demonstrate mastery of the strategic practice of public relations. It is awarded by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), which is composed of representatives from the American Association of Public Relations, the National School Public Relations Association, and the Public Relations Society of America.

To become accredited, applicants must have at least five years' experience in public relations and complete a rigorous process that includes an examination on knowledge and skills related to the profession. The process also requires submission of a portfolio demonstrating competency in areas such as research, planning, implementation, evaluation, ethics and law.

The entire APR process typically takes between six months and one year to complete. To begin the process, applicants must submit an application fee ($75 for members of PRSA or other UAB-member organizations; $150 for non-members). After submitting their application materials, applicants will be invited to take an online multiple-choice examination. Once they pass this exam with a score of 70% or higher, they will be invited to submit their portfolio for review by a panel of experienced public relations professionals. If approved by the panel, applicants receive their APR designation.

The cost for completing the APR process varies depending on whether you are a member or non-member of PRSA or another UAB-member organization. For members it costs $175; for non-members it costs $350. This fee covers both the application fee and examination fees. Additional fees may apply if you need additional assistance preparing your portfolio or taking the exam.

3. Certified Professional in Public Relations (CPPR)

Certified Professional in Public Relations (CPPR) is a professional certification program designed to recognize public relations professionals who demonstrate excellence in their field. The certification is awarded by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), an independent, non-profit organization that sets standards for professional certifications.

The CPPR certification requires applicants to have at least three years of full-time public relations experience and to pass a comprehensive exam. The exam covers topics such as public relations ethics, media relations, crisis communication, and social media management. Applicants must also complete a portfolio demonstrating their knowledge and skills in the field.

The entire process of becoming certified typically takes about six months from start to finish. To begin, applicants must submit an application form and fee ($225 USD). Once accepted into the program, applicants will receive study materials and information on how to prepare for the exam. After passing the exam, applicants must submit their portfolio for review by UAB board members before being officially awarded the CPPR certification.

The cost of becoming certified includes the $225 application fee plus any additional costs associated with preparing for the exam such as books or courses.

4. Certified Communications Professional (CCP)

Certified Communications Professional (CCP) is a professional certification program designed to recognize individuals who have mastered the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in communications. It is offered by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

The CCP program consists of three levels: Certified Professional (CP), Certified Senior Professional (CSP), and Master Certified Professional (MCP). Each level requires a different amount of experience and education, as well as successful completion of an exam.

To become a CCP, you must have at least five years of experience in business communication or related fields. You must also have completed at least 15 credit hours of college-level courses in business communication or related fields. Additionally, you must pass the IABC’s CCP exam. The exam covers topics such as writing, editing, public relations, media relations, marketing communications, and more.

The cost for the exam varies depending on your membership status with IABC. For non-members, it costs $395 USD. For members, it costs $295 USD.

It typically takes two to four months to prepare for the exam and get certified as a CCP. During this time, you should review all relevant materials and practice questions to ensure that you are fully prepared for the test.

5. Certified Strategic Communications Management Professional (CSCMP)

Certified Strategic Communications Management Professional (CSCMP) is an accreditation program offered by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). It is designed to recognize professionals who demonstrate mastery of the strategic communication management discipline.

The CSCMP certification program consists of a two-day workshop, followed by a written examination. The workshop covers topics such as strategic planning, message development and delivery, media relations, crisis communications, and evaluation and measurement. The written exam consists of multiple-choice questions that test knowledge in these areas.

To become certified, you must have at least five years of professional experience in the field of strategic communication management or related disciplines. You must also attend the two-day workshop and pass the written exam with a score of 70% or higher.

The cost for the CSCMP certification program varies depending on whether you are an IABC member or nonmember. For IABC members, it costs $1,400 USD; for nonmembers it costs $2,000 USD.

6. Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (GA-PRCM)

The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (GA-PRCM) is an international network of public relations and communication management professionals. It was founded in 2001 to promote the highest standards of professional practice, education and research in public relations and communication management. The GA-PRCM has members from more than 50 countries around the world.

To become a member of the GA-PRCM, applicants must have a minimum of 5 years' experience in public relations or communication management, as well as a recognized degree or postgraduate qualification in a related field. Applicants must also demonstrate their commitment to the GA-PRCM's Code of Ethics and Professional Practice.

The application process takes approximately three months, depending on the number of applications received. Once accepted, members are required to pay an annual fee which varies according to the country they reside in. The current fee ranges from $50 - $200 USD per year.

The benefits of membership include access to resources such as publications, research papers, webinars, conferences and events; networking opportunities with other members; discounts on professional development courses; access to job postings; and recognition for outstanding achievements within the profession.

7. International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a professional organization that serves the global business communications community. It was founded in 1970 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. The IABC provides resources and networking opportunities for professionals in public relations, corporate communications, marketing, advertising, media relations, internal communications and more.

Membership to the IABC is open to all business communicators worldwide. It typically takes about two weeks for an application to be processed and approved. To become a member of the IABC, you must fill out an online application form and pay a membership fee. The cost of membership varies depending on your country of residence and type of membership (e.g., student or professional). Generally speaking, annual fees range from $50 USD to $500 USD.

In addition to providing access to exclusive resources and networking opportunities, members can also take advantage of various discounts on products and services offered by IABC partners.

8. Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is a professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK. It was established in 1948 and is the largest professional body for public relations practitioners in Europe. It provides training, education, networking opportunities and resources to its members.

To become a member of the CIPR, you must have at least three years' experience in public relations or communications, be able to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the profession, and have a relevant qualification such as an accredited postgraduate degree or diploma. You will also need to pass an online assessment before you can become a member.

It typically takes around six months to become a full member of the CIPR once you have submitted your application and met all the requirements.

The cost of becoming a CIPR member depends on your level of experience and qualifications. For example, if you are applying with no qualifications or less than two years' experience, it will cost £80 per year; if you have more than two years' experience but no qualifications, it will cost £140 per year; and if you have both qualifications and more than two years' experience it will cost £180 per year.

9. Society for New Communications Research (SNCR)

The Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advanced study of the latest developments in new media and communications. The organization was founded in 2004 and is based in San Francisco, California. It has members from more than 25 countries and consists of leading researchers, academics, practitioners, and business executives.

SNCR provides access to research, education, networking opportunities, thought leadership programs, and events that explore the impact of technology on society. It also offers awards programs that recognize excellence in new media communications research.

Membership to SNCR is open to individuals and organizations who are interested in advancing their knowledge of new media communications. Membership applications can be submitted online or by mail. Applications typically take up to two weeks to process.

Individual memberships cost $125 per year while organizational memberships cost $250 per year. Additional discounts may be available for students and non-profits.

10. American Marketing Association's Professional Certified Marketer Program

The American Marketing Association’s Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) Program is a professional certification program that recognizes marketing professionals who have demonstrated a mastery of the core principles of marketing. The PCM Program provides a comprehensive assessment of the knowledge, skills and abilities that are essential to successful marketing management.

The PCM Program consists of three levels: Certified Associate Marketer (CAM), Certified Professional Marketer (CPM), and Certified Master Marketer (CMM). Each level requires the completion of an exam and a portfolio review. The CAM exam covers the fundamentals of marketing, while the CPM and CMM exams cover more advanced topics such as strategy, analytics, and digital marketing.

It typically takes 3-6 months to complete all three levels of the PCM Program. To get started, you must register for the program through AMA's website. You will then be given access to study materials and practice tests to help you prepare for each exam. Once you have successfully passed all three exams, your portfolio will be reviewed by a panel of experts to assess your mastery of marketing principles.

The cost for the PCM Program varies depending on which level you are pursuing. The cost for the CAM exam is $299 USD; the cost for both CPM and CMM exams is $399 USD; and there is an additional fee for portfolio review ($99 USD).

11. National School Public Relations Association's Certificate in School Public Relations Program

The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) Certificate in School Public Relations Program is a comprehensive program designed to provide school public relations professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively communicate on behalf of their schools. The program consists of five courses, each focusing on a different aspect of school public relations. It takes approximately one year to complete the program, although this may vary depending on individual progress and availability.

To get the NSPRA Certificate in School Public Relations, applicants must complete all five courses and pass an assessment at the end of each course. Course topics include: Communications Planning & Strategy; Media Relations; Community Engagement; Crisis Communications; and Digital & Social Media Strategies. Each course is offered online or in-person, and costs $495 per course. Additionally, there is a one-time application fee of $100 for those interested in applying for the certificate program.

Upon successful completion of all five courses and passing the assessments, individuals will receive their Certificate in School Public Relations from NSPRA. This certificate serves as recognition that they have achieved a high level of proficiency in school public relations practices and strategies.

Do You Really Need a Public Relations Officer Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on the individual’s goals and career aspirations. A Public Relations Officer Certificate can be beneficial for those looking to break into the public relations field, advance their current position or increase their knowledge base. It can also be useful for those who want to demonstrate that they have a certain level of expertise in the field.

For individuals who are just starting out in public relations, a certificate may provide a foundation of knowledge and give them an edge over other applicants. It could also help open doors to more advanced positions or specialized roles within an organization. Additionally, having a certificate may allow someone to negotiate better terms when seeking employment such as higher pay or more benefits.

On the other hand, there are some drawbacks to obtaining a Public Relations Officer Certificate. The most obvious is that it requires time and money investment which may not be available for everyone interested in the field. Furthermore, depending on the program chosen, it could be difficult to complete while continuing one's current job or studies. Finally, although the certificate may provide some credibility, organizations will likely focus more on experience and skills when making hiring decisions.

Ultimately, whether or not someone should pursue a Public Relations Officer Certificate depends on their individual needs and circumstances. If they feel it would benefit them in their career path then it could be worth pursuing; otherwise there may be other ways of demonstrating expertise such as taking courses or gaining certifications related to specific software programs used in public relations work.

Related: Public Relations Officer Resume Examples

FAQs About Public Relations Officer Certifications

1. What qualifications do I need to become a certified public relations officer?

Answer: To become a certified public relations officer, you'll need to have a degree in public relations or communications and at least three years of professional experience in the field. You will also need to pass an exam administered by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

2. How much does it cost to become a certified public relations officer?

Answer: The total cost for certification depends on several factors, including the type of certification you are seeking and any additional courses or workshops you might take. Generally, the cost ranges from $200-$500 USD.

3. How long does it take to become a certified public relations officer?

Answer: On average, it takes about six months to complete all of the requirements for becoming a certified public relations officer. This includes taking an exam and completing any additional coursework or workshops required for certification.

4. What benefits come with becoming a certified public relations officer?

Answer: Becoming a certified public relations officer can provide numerous benefits, such as increased credibility, better job opportunities, higher pay, and recognition within the industry. It can also help to differentiate yourself from other professionals in the field.

5. Are there any continuing education requirements for maintaining my certification as a public relations officer?

Answer: Yes, most certifications require that you complete at least 12 hours of continuing education units every two years in order to maintain your certification status. These units must be related to topics within the field of public relations and may include attending conferences or seminars, taking online courses, or reading professional materials related to the industry.