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Top 10 Public Relations Specialist Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications for public relations professionals, including information on requirements and benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are important for a public relations specialist in the job market for several reasons. First, certifications demonstrate that a PR specialist has achieved a certain level of competency in their field and is qualified to perform the duties required of them. Second, certifications provide employers with an assurance that the individual they are hiring is knowledgeable and experienced enough to effectively manage their PR needs. Third, certifications can be used to differentiate between applicants when multiple candidates have similar experience levels; those with certifications may have an edge over those without. Finally, having certifications may open up opportunities for career advancement or entry into more specialized roles within the field of public relations.

The purpose of this article is to review the top certifications for Public Relations Specialists and explain how they can help advance a public relations specialist's career.

What are Public Relations Specialist Certifications?

Public relations specialist certification is a professional certification that demonstrates a person's knowledge and expertise in the field of public relations. It can be obtained through a variety of organizations, such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) or International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). This certification is designed to demonstrate an individual's understanding of public relations principles and strategies, while also providing them with the skills needed to effectively manage PR campaigns.

Having this certification can be beneficial for those who are looking to advance their careers in the field of public relations. It shows employers that the individual has taken the time to educate themselves on best practices within the industry, and it provides them with the credentials needed to distinguish themselves from other applicants when seeking new positions. Additionally, having this certification can open up more job opportunities for potential employers as they may view having this credential as an advantage when selecting a candidate for a position.

Overall, obtaining a public relations specialist certification can help individuals gain recognition and demonstrate their level of expertise within the field. It may also provide them with additional job opportunities, furthering their career in public relations.

Pro Tip: When considering a public relations specialist certification, be sure to research the program details and decide if it is a good fit for your career goals. Look for programs that offer comprehensive training in areas such as media relations, writing, strategic planning, and event management. Also, make sure the certification is accredited by an organization with industry recognition.

Related: What does a Public Relations Specialist do?

Top 10 Public Relations Specialist Certifications

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

1. Accredited Public Relations (APR) Certification

Accredited Public Relations (APR) Certification is a professional certification program designed to recognize public relations professionals who demonstrate knowledge, experience and proficiency in the field. The certification is offered by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), which is an independent body of public relations professionals and educators.

The APR certification process typically takes 12 to 18 months to complete and consists of three parts: a written examination, a portfolio review, and an oral presentation. In order to be eligible for the APR certification, applicants must have a minimum of five years of professional experience in public relations or related fields.

To get started on the path to becoming an APR-certified professional, prospective candidates must first submit an application for consideration by the UAB. Once approved, applicants will need to complete the written exam and portfolio review components before being invited to present their oral presentation.

The cost of obtaining the APR certification varies depending on factors such as geographic location, but typically ranges from $500-$1,000 USD. This cost includes all fees associated with taking the exam and submitting your portfolio for review.

2. Certified Public Relations Professional (CPRP) Certification

The Certified Public Relations Professional (CPRP) certification is a professional credential that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a high level of knowledge and expertise in the field of public relations. It is awarded by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), which is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to setting standards for professional accreditation.

To qualify for the CPRP certification, applicants must meet certain educational and experience requirements. Applicants must have at least a bachelor's degree in public relations or related field from an accredited college or university, plus five years of professional experience in public relations. In addition, applicants must pass an exam administered by the UAB to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the principles and practices of public relations.

It typically takes six months to one year to complete all the requirements for the CPRP certification. The first step is to submit an application with proof of educational background and work experience. Once approved, applicants can register for the exam and schedule a test date at a testing center near them. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as ethics, communication strategies, media relations, crisis management, research methods, and more.

The cost for the CPRP certification varies depending on where you live. Generally speaking, it costs around $400-$500 USD to take the exam and receive your certification upon passing it. This fee includes registration fees as well as any additional materials needed to prepare for the exam such as study guides or practice tests.

3. International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Certification

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Certification is a professional certification for individuals who are looking to advance their careers in business communication. The certification is designed to recognize the knowledge and skills of professionals in the areas of strategic communication, public relations, marketing, and other related fields. The certification is awarded by IABC after successful completion of an online assessment.

The assessment consists of multiple-choice questions that test the individual's knowledge on various topics such as writing, media relations, research, planning, and more. To receive the certification, individuals must pass the assessment with a score of 80% or higher within a two-hour time frame.

In order to get certified by IABC, individuals must first register for the assessment and pay a fee of $125 USD. After registering, they will be able to access the online assessment at any time within one year from their registration date. Once they have successfully passed the assessment with a score of 80% or higher, they will receive their official IABC Certification via email within two weeks from their successful completion date.

The cost for IABC Certification is $125 USD per person which covers all registration fees and administrative costs associated with taking the online assessment.

4. Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Accreditation

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Accreditation is a program that recognizes individuals who have achieved the highest standards of professional excellence in public relations. It is the only nationally recognized accreditation program for public relations professionals, and it is designed to demonstrate mastery of the core knowledge and skills required to practice public relations effectively.

To become accredited, an individual must pass a rigorous examination that covers topics such as media relations, strategic planning, research and evaluation, crisis communication, and ethics. The exam consists of two parts: a written portion and an oral presentation. The written portion must be completed within three hours, while the oral presentation may last up to one hour.

The PRSA Accreditation process typically takes around six months from start to finish. To begin the process, applicants must first submit an application form along with their resume and other supporting documents. Once the application has been approved by PRSA’s Accreditation Board, applicants will receive instructions on how to register for the exam and will be given access to study materials.

The cost of applying for PRSA Accreditation varies depending on whether or not you are a member of PRSA. Non-members pay $395 for the application fee plus $225 for each part of the exam ($450 total). Members pay $295 for the application fee plus $175 for each part of the exam ($350 total).

Once an applicant passes both parts of the exam, they will receive their official certificate from PRSA’s Accreditation Board. This certificate will serve as proof that they have achieved professional excellence in public relations and can be used as evidence when applying for jobs or promotions in this field.

5. Certified Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP) Certification

The Certified Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP) Certification is a professional certification program designed to help communication professionals demonstrate their expertise in strategic communication management. The SCMP certification program was developed by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and is offered through the IABC Academy.

The SCMP certification requires applicants to have at least five years of experience in strategic communication management, as well as a bachelor’s degree or higher. Applicants must also successfully complete an online assessment and submit a portfolio that demonstrates their knowledge and experience in strategic communication management.

It typically takes three to six months to complete the application process and receive your SCMP certification. The cost for the application fee is $450 USD for members of IABC, or $550 USD for non-members. Additionally, there is an annual renewal fee of $100 USD for members or $150 USD for non-members.

To get started with the SCMP certification process, you must first create an account on the IABC Academy website and submit your application form along with any required documents such as transcripts or proof of experience. After submitting your application, you will be assigned an assessor who will review your portfolio and provide feedback on how to improve it before submitting it for final review. Once your portfolio has been approved, you will receive your SCMP certificate within two weeks.

6. Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Diploma in Public Relations

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Diploma in Public Relations is a professional qualification that provides an excellent foundation for a career in public relations. It is designed to give you the skills and knowledge needed to work effectively in the public relations industry.

The CIPR Diploma in Public Relations is a Level 6 qualification, which means it is at the same level as a Bachelor's degree. It typically takes between 12 and 18 months to complete, depending on your prior experience and how quickly you can complete the coursework.

To get the CIPR Diploma in Public Relations, you must first pass two exams: Principles of Professional Public Relations and Advanced Professional Practice. You will also need to have completed at least three years of professional experience in public relations or related fields.

The cost of the CIPR Diploma in Public Relations varies depending on where you take it. Generally, it costs around £2,500 - £3,000 for tuition fees and exam fees combined. You may also need to pay additional fees for books and materials.

7. American Marketing Association’s Digital Marketing Certificate Program

The American Marketing Association’s Digital Marketing Certificate Program is a comprehensive program designed to give marketing professionals the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in today’s digital world. The program consists of five courses, each focusing on a different area of digital marketing. These areas include Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing, Content Strategy, Email Marketing, and Analytics & Reporting. Each course is self-paced and can be completed at your own convenience.

The program takes approximately 8-10 weeks to complete depending on how quickly you are able to work through the material. To get started, you will need to enroll in the program by visiting the AMA website and selecting the “Digital Marketing Certificate Program” option from the list of available programs. Once enrolled, you will have access to all five courses as well as additional resources such as webinars and white papers.

The cost for this program is $1,495 USD which includes access to all five courses as well as additional resources such as webinars and white papers. Upon completion of all five courses, participants will receive an official certificate from the American Marketing Association recognizing their achievement in digital marketing.

8. Digital Communications and Social Media Certificate Program

The Digital Communications and Social Media Certificate Program is a comprehensive training program designed to help professionals develop the skills necessary to effectively manage digital communications and social media. The program covers topics such as content creation, analytics, and engagement strategies. It also provides an overview of the most popular social media platforms and how to use them for marketing purposes.

The program consists of five courses that can be completed in as little as six months. The courses include: Introduction to Digital Communications & Social Media, Content Creation & Management, Analytics & Measurement, Engagement Strategies & Tactics, and Advanced Digital Communications & Social Media Strategies. Each course is offered online with instructor-led sessions and self-paced learning activities.

To get the certificate, students must complete all five courses with a passing grade of at least 70%. Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive a digital certificate from the American Marketing Association (AMA).

The cost of the Digital Communications & Social Media Certificate Program varies depending on which institution you take it from. Generally speaking, it costs between $800 - $1,500 for the entire program.

9. Certified Crisis Manager (CCM) Certification

Certified Crisis Manager (CCM) Certification is a professional credential that demonstrates an individual’s knowledge and skills in the field of crisis management. The certification is offered by the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM). To become certified, individuals must pass a comprehensive exam that covers topics such as emergency planning, crisis communication, and disaster response.

The CCM certification process typically takes between 6-12 months to complete. To get started, applicants must first submit an application to IAEM and pay the associated fee. Once accepted into the program, applicants will receive access to online training materials and resources to help them prepare for the exam. After studying for the exam, applicants can register for a testing date at one of IAEM’s approved testing centers. Upon successful completion of the exam, applicants will be awarded their CCM certification.

The cost to obtain a CCM certification varies depending on the country in which you are applying from. Generally speaking, fees range from $400-$1,000 USD.

10. Certified Reputation Management Professional (CRMP) Certification

A Certified Reputation Management Professional (CRMP) Certification is an industry-recognized credential that demonstrates a professional’s knowledge and skill in reputation management. It is designed to help professionals understand the complexities of reputation management, as well as how to develop and maintain a positive online presence for their clients.

The CRMP certification program is offered through the Online Reputation Management Institute (ORMI). The program consists of two courses: the Introduction to Online Reputation Management Course and the Advanced Online Reputation Management Course. Both courses must be completed in order to receive the CRMP certification.

The Introduction to Online Reputation Management Course covers topics such as brand protection, online reputation management strategies, crisis communication, and social media monitoring techniques. The Advanced Online Reputation Management Course covers more advanced topics such as SEO best practices, content marketing strategies, customer service techniques, and analytics.

It typically takes between 6-8 weeks to complete the coursework required for the CRMP certification. However, those who have prior experience or training in online reputation management may be able to complete it faster.

To get certified as a CRMP, you must first register with ORMI and pay their registration fee of $299 USD. You will then have access to both courses which you must complete within 8 weeks of registering. Once you have completed both courses successfully, you will need to submit your application for certification along with any additional documentation required by ORMI. Upon review and approval of your application by ORMI staff, you will be issued your CRMP certificate.

Do You Really Need a Public Relations Specialist Certificate?

A Public Relations Specialist Certificate is not a requirement to work in the field of public relations, but it can be beneficial for those who are looking to stand out in the industry. A certificate can demonstrate a higher level of knowledge and understanding when it comes to public relations principles and practices. This knowledge can help individuals gain an edge over other job applicants and make them more attractive to potential employers.

Certificates are also beneficial for those who already have some experience in the field, as they offer a chance to expand their skillset and provide additional credentials that could open up more career opportunities. For example, having a certificate may qualify an individual for roles such as media relations specialist or social media manager. Additionally, those with a certificate may find that they can command higher salaries than their counterparts without one.

While there is no requirement for having a certificate in public relations, it is certainly something that could give individuals an advantage when seeking employment in the industry. Those who choose to pursue this type of certification should ensure they select an accredited program and ensure that their coursework meets industry standards. Doing so will ensure that they receive the most benefit from their certification and set them up for success in their chosen profession.

Related: Public Relations Specialist Resume Examples

FAQs About Public Relations Specialist Certifications

Q1. What is a PR Specialist Certification?

A1. A PR Specialist Certification is a credential that demonstrates expertise in public relations and communications. It is offered by various organizations, such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), and the International Public Relations Association (IPRA).

Q2. How do I become certified?

A2. To become certified, you must complete an application process that typically involves submitting an application form, providing references, demonstrating your experience in the field, and passing an exam.

Q3. What are the benefits of certification?

A3. Becoming a certified PR specialist can help you demonstrate your commitment to professional development and stand out from other job applicants in a competitive industry. It can also open up new career opportunities and provide access to valuable resources such as networking events and continuing education programs.

Q4. How long does it take to get certified?

A4. The time it takes to get certified depends on which organization you choose to pursue certification through and how quickly you are able to complete all necessary steps in the application process, including studying for and passing the exam. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from several weeks to several months or more depending on individual circumstances.

Q5. Is certification mandatory?

A5: No, certification is not mandatory for working in public relations or communications; however, many employers look favorably upon applicants with certifications since they demonstrate dedication to professional development and knowledge of current best practices in the field.

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