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Top 11 Volunteer Certifications

This article will provide an overview of the top certifications available for volunteers looking to increase their skills and make a positive impact on their communities.

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

Published 18 min read

Certifications are an important way for volunteer workers to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities in a certain area. They provide proof of competency in a particular field and can give employers confidence that the volunteer is qualified to do the job. Certifications also show potential employers that the volunteer has taken the time to learn more about a particular topic and has dedicated themselves to gaining expertise in it. By having certifications, volunteers can stand out from other applicants and increase their chances of landing a job or promotion. Additionally, certifications may be required for certain jobs or positions, so having them can help volunteers get ahead in the job market.

This article reviews the top certifications for Volunteers and explains how they can enhance a volunteer's career prospects.

What are Volunteer Certifications?

Volunteer certification is a process of verifying the qualifications and credentials of volunteers who have been accepted to serve in a particular organization. By certifying volunteers, organizations can ensure that they have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to effectively fulfill their roles and responsibilities.

The most common way to certify volunteers is through an application process, which typically includes background checks, interviews, reference checks and other evaluations. This helps organizations determine the best candidates for their volunteer positions. Certification also allows organizations to track the progress of their volunteers over time, ensuring that they are meeting expectations and staying up-to-date on relevant topics in their area of expertise.

Certification provides numerous benefits for both organizations and volunteers alike. For organizations, it helps them ensure that they are working with qualified individuals who can help them achieve their goals efficiently and effectively. For volunteers, it can provide recognition for their hard work and dedication, as well as give them an opportunity to network with other professionals in their field. Additionally, it can help them gain valuable experience that may further enhance their career prospects in the future.

Pro Tip: Make sure to keep copies of all your volunteer certifications and proof of completed service hours. This will help you track your progress and ensure that you have the necessary credentials for future volunteer opportunities.

Related: What does a Volunteer do?

Top 11 Volunteer Certifications

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

1. Certified Volunteer Administrator (CVA)

Certified Volunteer Administrator (CVA) is a credential given to individuals who have demonstrated a high level of expertise in the field of volunteer management. It is designed to recognize and reward those who have achieved a certain level of knowledge, experience, and skill in the field. The CVA credential is offered by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA).

The CVA credential requires applicants to complete an application process that includes submitting documentation of their education, experience, and professional development activities related to volunteer management. Applicants must also pass a written examination covering topics such as volunteer recruitment, supervision, recognition, and evaluation.

The CVA credential typically takes between four to six months to obtain. After submitting an application, applicants will receive notification from CCVA within two weeks regarding their eligibility status. Once approved for the exam, applicants can register for the exam online and schedule it at their convenience. The exam is offered several times throughout the year in various locations across the United States.

The cost of obtaining the CVA credential varies depending on location but generally ranges from $250 - $400 USD. This fee covers the cost of registration for the exam as well as any additional materials needed to prepare for it such as study guides or practice tests.

2. Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP)

Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) is a professional credential that recognizes individuals who have obtained the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be successful in the nonprofit sector. The CNP certification is designed to demonstrate mastery of the core competencies required to effectively lead and manage a nonprofit organization.

The CNP certification process typically takes between six months and one year to complete. To become certified, applicants must first complete an online application and pay a non-refundable fee of $195. Once accepted into the program, applicants will then need to complete an assessment that measures their knowledge of nonprofit management principles and practices. This assessment is comprised of multiple-choice questions on topics such as fundraising, financial management, governance, human resources, marketing/communications, legal/regulatory compliance, program design/evaluation, strategic planning/implementation and technology.

Once applicants pass the assessment with a score of at least 70%, they will receive their CNP certification from the National Council of Nonprofits (NCN). The NCN also offers continuing education courses that can help maintain or upgrade an individual’s CNP status.

The cost for this certification varies depending on the type of membership chosen by the applicant. For example, NCN members may be eligible for discounted rates on both the application fee and any additional continuing education courses taken.

3. Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE)

The Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) is a professional certification program that recognizes individuals who have achieved a high level of knowledge and expertise in fundraising. This certification is offered by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), an international organization dedicated to advancing philanthropy through education, research, standards of practice, and accreditation.

To become a CFRE, applicants must meet certain qualifications and pass an exam. Qualifications include at least five years of full-time fundraising experience within the past 10 years, as well as a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university.

The CFRE exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as donor relations and stewardship, legal and ethical issues in fundraising, resource development planning and implementation, financial management and reporting, marketing and public relations for fundraising purposes, volunteer management, prospect research and data analysis for fundraising purposes. The exam fee is $400 USD for AFP members and $500 USD for non-members.

The exam can be taken at any one of the more than 100 testing centers located around the world. It typically takes about four hours to complete the exam; however, it is recommended that candidates plan on spending up to six hours at the testing center due to check-in procedures.

Once applicants have passed the exam they will receive their official CFRE certificate from AFP. They must then complete 30 continuing education credits every three years in order to maintain their certification status.

4. Certified in Volunteer Engagement (CVE)

Certified in Volunteer Engagement (CVE) is a professional certification program designed to recognize and validate the skills, knowledge, and experience of volunteer engagement professionals. The CVE certification is offered by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA), an international organization that promotes excellence in volunteer engagement.

The CVE certification requires applicants to have a minimum of two years of full-time paid or volunteer experience in the field of volunteer management. Applicants must also demonstrate knowledge and competency in eight core areas: human resource management, program planning and evaluation, budgeting and finance, risk management, technology, communication, advocacy and leadership.

The process for obtaining the CVE certification involves completing an online application form and submitting it along with supporting documentation such as resumes or letters of recommendation. Once approved, applicants must successfully complete a written exam that covers the eight core areas mentioned above. The exam can be taken at any CCVA-approved testing center or online through ProctorU.

The cost for taking the exam is $395 USD plus applicable taxes. Candidates who pass the exam will receive their official CVE certification within 4-6 weeks after successful completion of the exam.

5. Certified Volunteer Manager (CVM)

Certified Volunteer Manager (CVM) is a professional certification program that recognizes individuals who demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to effectively manage volunteers. It is designed for those in the field of volunteer management, including those working with volunteers in nonprofit organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, and other settings.

The CVM program consists of two parts: an online course and an assessment. The online course provides a comprehensive overview of volunteer management principles and best practices. The assessment tests your understanding of the material covered in the course.

It typically takes between 8-10 hours to complete the online course and assessment. After completing the course and passing the assessment with a score of 70% or higher, you will be awarded your CVM credential.

The cost of obtaining your CVM credential varies depending on which organization you use to obtain it from. Generally speaking, it costs around $200 USD to become certified through most organizations offering this credential.

6. National Service Certification Program (NSCP)

The National Service Certification Program (NSCP) is a program sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). It is designed to recognize individuals who have completed a significant amount of national service, such as volunteering or working with an AmeriCorps program. The NSCP provides recognition of individuals’ commitment to service and encourages them to continue their service in the future.

It typically takes six weeks from the time of application to receive your certificate. To apply for the NSCP, you must first complete at least 1,700 hours of national service within a 12-month period. You then need to submit an online application, along with documentation verifying your hours of service. Once approved, you will receive your certificate in the mail.

The cost for applying for the NSCP is $50. This fee covers processing costs and helps support CNCS’s mission of promoting volunteerism and national service across the country.

7. American Red Cross Disaster Services Training Program

The American Red Cross Disaster Services Training Program is a comprehensive program designed to prepare individuals to respond to disasters. The program consists of both online and in-person training sessions, which cover topics such as disaster preparedness, response, relief, and recovery.

Online courses are available for free and typically take around two hours to complete. These courses cover the basics of disaster response, such as how to assess needs and coordinate resources during an emergency.

In-person courses are also available at local Red Cross chapters or other organizations that offer the training. These courses usually take between one and three days to complete and cost around $100-$200 per person. They involve more in-depth instruction on topics such as community preparedness planning, mass care operations, shelter management, and volunteer leadership.

Both online and in-person courses are offered throughout the year by the American Red Cross. To find out more information about the Disaster Services Training Program or to register for a course near you, visit www.redcross.org/take-a-class

8. American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED Certification

American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED Certification is a certification program offered by the American Red Cross to teach individuals how to respond to and manage medical emergencies. The program covers topics such as basic first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillator (AED) use, and choking management.

The American Red Cross offers two levels of First Aid/CPR/AED Certification: Basic and Advanced. The Basic level certification is designed for lay responders who may be required to provide immediate care in an emergency situation, such as teachers, coaches, babysitters, lifeguards, and other childcare providers. The Advanced level certification is intended for healthcare professionals or those who may need more in-depth training.

The length of time it takes to complete the certification depends on the level chosen. The Basic level typically takes about 4-6 hours to complete while the Advanced level can take up to 8 hours.

To get certified, individuals must attend an American Red Cross training course taught by a certified instructor. These courses are available online or in person at local chapters of the American Red Cross or other authorized organizations.

The cost of the certification varies depending on the type of course taken and whether it is taken online or in person. Online courses typically cost around $50-$100 while in-person courses range from $75-$150.

9. International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) Certificate of Recognition

The International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) Certificate of Recognition is an award given to individuals, organizations and institutions that have made a significant contribution to the field of volunteerism. It is an international recognition of excellence in volunteerism, and it is awarded by IAVE, a global network of volunteer leaders from more than 100 countries.

The process for obtaining the IAVE Certificate of Recognition typically takes about three months. To be eligible for the award, applicants must demonstrate a commitment to volunteering and have made significant contributions to their local community or a global cause. Applicants must also provide evidence of their accomplishments in the form of letters of recommendation from colleagues or supervisors. Additionally, applicants must submit a written statement outlining their achievements and how they have positively impacted those around them.

The cost for applying for the IAVE Certificate of Recognition varies depending on the country in which you are applying. Generally speaking, there is no fee associated with submitting an application; however, some countries may require payment for processing fees or other administrative costs.

Once an application has been approved by IAVE, recipients will receive a certificate bearing their name and details about their achievements in volunteerism. The certificate can be used as proof of recognition when applying for jobs or other opportunities related to volunteering.

10. Points of Light Corporate Institute for Volunteering and Service Certificate

The Points of Light Corporate Institute for Volunteering and Service Certificate is a program designed to help organizations build and sustain successful employee volunteer programs. The certificate is awarded after completion of the four-part program, which includes an online course, a one-day workshop, a six-month mentoring program, and an online assessment. The program takes approximately nine months to complete and costs $2,500 per participant.

The online course provides participants with an overview of employee volunteering, how to create successful programs, and best practices for engaging volunteers. The one-day workshop offers hands-on training on how to develop employee volunteer programs that are tailored to their organization’s needs. During the six-month mentoring program, participants receive guidance from experienced professionals in the field of corporate volunteering. Finally, the online assessment tests participants’ knowledge and application of the concepts they have learned throughout the program.

To get the Points of Light Corporate Institute for Volunteering and Service Certificate, individuals must complete all four parts of the program within nine months or less. Participants can register for the course online at www.pointsoflight.org/corporateinstitute or by calling 1-800-VOLUNTEER (1-800-865-8633).

11. United Way Worldwide Basic Volunteer Management Certificate

The United Way Worldwide Basic Volunteer Management Certificate is a free online certificate program designed to provide individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively manage volunteers. The program consists of four modules that cover topics such as volunteer recruitment, onboarding, training, and recognition. Each module takes approximately one hour to complete and includes interactive activities, videos, and quizzes. Upon successful completion of all four modules, participants will receive a digital certificate from United Way Worldwide.

The program is self-paced so there is no set timeline for completion. However, it is recommended that participants complete all four modules within two weeks in order to retain the information learned in each module.

In order to get the certificate, individuals must first register on the United Way Worldwide website by creating an account. Once registered, participants can begin the program by accessing the online course materials. Upon successful completion of all four modules, participants will be able to download their digital certificate from their account profile page on the website.

The United Way Worldwide Basic Volunteer Management Certificate is free of charge and does not require any payment or subscription fees.

Do You Really Need a Volunteer Certificate?

Volunteer certificates are an important way to recognize the hard work and dedication of individuals who volunteer their time and energy in support of a cause or charity. A volunteer certificate is a tangible proof of appreciation for the efforts put forth by an individual, and it serves as a reminder of their commitment to helping others.

The answer to whether you need a volunteer certificate depends on your specific situation. If you are volunteering with an organization that offers recognition for its volunteers, such as a local charity or nonprofit, then you may want to consider obtaining a certificate. This will show your commitment to the cause and help to create a positive relationship between yourself and the organization. Additionally, some employers will look favorably upon any type of volunteer experience when considering job applicants, so having a certificate could be beneficial in this regard.

On the other hand, if you are simply volunteering on your own time without any formal involvement from an organization, then you may not need to obtain a certificate. In this case, it would be more important for you to focus on doing good work rather than worrying about receiving recognition for it. Your efforts should be enough reward in itself!

In conclusion, whether or not you need a volunteer certificate depends largely on your particular circumstances and motivations for volunteering in the first place. If recognition is important to you or if it could potentially benefit your career prospects in some way, then obtaining a certificate could be worth considering. Otherwise, simply focusing on making meaningful contributions through your volunteer work should suffice!

Related: Volunteer Resume Examples

FAQs About Volunteer Certifications

1. What is a volunteer certification?

A volunteer certification is an official recognition of an individual's qualifications, abilities and achievements as a volunteer. It demonstrates that the individual has met certain standards of knowledge, skills and experience in order to be successful in their role as a volunteer.

2. How do I get certified as a volunteer?

The requirements for becoming certified as a volunteer vary depending on the organization or institution you are applying to. Generally speaking, it involves completing an application process, providing references, completing training or educational requirements, and sometimes taking an exam or assessment.

3. Is there an expiration date for my certification?

Yes, most certifications have expiration dates that must be renewed periodically in order to remain active and valid. The frequency of renewal will depend on the organization or institution offering the certification.

4. Are there any costs associated with getting certified?

Yes, there may be some costs associated with obtaining certain certifications such as application fees or training fees. It is important to check with the organization offering the certification for exact costs before beginning the process.

5. What are the benefits of having a volunteer certification?

Having a volunteer certification can open up many opportunities for volunteering roles that may otherwise not be available without it. It also provides evidence of your commitment and dedication to volunteering and can help you stand out when applying for jobs or other positions that require volunteers. Additionally, having a certificate often comes with additional benefits such as discounts on products and services related to volunteering activities.

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