What Exactly is Certification?
Earning a certification is likely different from anything you’ve done academically in the past. It’s not your typical classroom learning, where you’re lectured on a particular subject, go home and review the information, and have a test at the end to evaluate what you’ve learned (and probably forget the information as soon as your pencil is down). Earning a certification like CAP takes real-world applicable knowledge, along with learned concepts and theories, and demonstrates to everyone, including yourself, you know your stuff.
There’s a reason taking the CAP exam requires a minimum combination of education and professional experience. This exam assesses your knowledge and proficiency on skills, concepts, and theories you use in your job; it also requires a level of dedication to ensure that any concepts, skills, or theories that you are not as familiar with are covered independently. Even in study groups, getting certified is truly up to you.
And, unlike traditional academic pursuits, a certification must be revisited constantly in order to keep current. As an added bonus, by recertifying every few years it guarantees you are always learning new skills and concepts to help in your daily life.
Certification is the perfect next step in your career, whether you have a college degree or not. When you have a certification, it’s easy to tell your current or future employers that your skills and knowledge are fresh, up-to-date, and relevant, wherever your career journey takes you.
It’s a fantastic way to show the world you are serious about your career; that you have a current knowledge of the areas necessary to be a rockstar in your role; that you are committed to learning long after the class work is done; and it’s an amazing way to prove to yourself you really CAN accomplish anything you set your mind to.
What is CAP?
The Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) is an NCCA-accredited certification designed specifically for the administrative professional.
Some Benefits of Having a Certification
Potential for a promotion, pay increase, or bonus (ask your employer!)
Relevant Knowledge and Skills for your current and future roles
Verification for yourself and your organization that you know your stuff
Credibility in your career
Knowing you set a goal for yourself and achieved it
Earning and maintaining your CAP is a three-step process.
Meet the eligibility requirements and apply
Once approved, sit for and pass the CAP exam
Maintain it by fulfilling the recertification requirement
To be eligible to take the CAP exam, you must meet one of the following education/experience requirements:
No College Degree – Four years or 7,072 hours* of relevant work experience
Associates 2-year Degree – Three Years or 5,304 hours* of relevant work experience
Bachelors 4-year Degree – Two years or 3,536 hours* relevant work experience
Relevant work experience can include:
Verbal and written communication with both internal and external clients
Business writing, proofreading, editing
Meeting planning, travel planning
Human resource activities, hiring, compliance
Budgeting, accounting functions
*These numbers are based off a 34-hour work week or 1,768 hours per year.
All relevant work experience needs to be earned within the last ten years in a paid position, internships and work study do not count towards eligibility.
The CAP Program is committed to diversity and equality in all activities. The Program, in both its values and practices, is committed to providing the community of administrative professionals with credentialing practices that are based on inclusion and diversity. This means that there shall be no barriers to participation in any activity of the Program on the basis of gender, race, creed, age, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, or disability. The Program will seek diversity and inclusiveness in its business practices and it will not condone any form of unlawful discrimination. The Program recognizes and values the diverse skills, perspectives and experiences of the community of administrative professionals and believes inclusiveness enhances service to this community.
CAP Core Resources, which are examples of reference texts subject-matter experts use when writing CAP exam questions*:
Business Communication Today, 13th Edition. Bovee, C. L., and J. V. Thill. 2015. Pearson Prentice-Hall.
The Administrative Professional: Technology and Procedures, 15th Edition. Rankin, D., and K. Shumack. 2016. Delmar Cengage Learning
Fundamentals of Organizational Communication, 9th Edition. Shockley-Zalabak, Pamela. 2014. Pearson.
Enhanced Discovering Computers 2018, 1st Edition. Vermaat, M. E., S. L. Sebok, S. M. Freund, J. T. Campbell, and M. Frydenberg. Cengage Learning
Keep in mind, most candidates need several resources to thoroughly prepare for the exam. The IAAP CAP Study Guide and Exam Prep SmartBook are not meant to be all-inclusive resources; rather guides to ensure you are studying the subjects and competencies assessed by CAP.
There is a CAP Practice Exam offered through learn@IAAP. This preparation tool uses retired CAP exam questions with the sole purpose of simulating a timed, computerized testing environment.
The listing of these materials is informative in nature. The CAP Program does not intend the list to imply endorsement of resources, nor are the questions on the test taken directly from these materials.
The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) does not endorse any study materials, groups, or exam preparation courses. The IAAP Certified Administrative Professional Study Guide was developed by subject-matter experts using the CAP Body of Knowledge who did not have access to or knowledge of current CAP exam questions. The CAP program is governed by the Certification Administration Committee, whose members are not involved with the development or administration of any preparatory resource. The CAP study tools mentioned on IAAP’s website are for reference only and do not guarantee success on the examination. IAAP’s goal is to provide you with access to a variety of quality preparation options.
If you are using a degree to meet education requirements, upload an official or unofficial transcript within the application
Work experience details may be completed on the application or upload a current resume within the application
Include payment details
Fall 2019 CAP Exam Fees
Spring 2020 CAP Exam Fees
Join IAAP today for $150/year to receive the member rate!
If you need to pay your exam fee by check, download the CAP Application and mail the application and supporting documentation to:
10502 N Ambassador Dr., Suite #100
Kansas City, MO 64153-1291
A $50 processing fee will be incurred for applications that do not meet eligibility requirements.
All fees are nonrefundable once your application has been processed.
Membership with IAAP is NOT required to take or maintain the CAP.
CAP Exam Details and Policies
The CAP exam is designed from a “blueprint” called the Body of Knowledge. The test covers six topic areas, or domains, and breaks the information down into detailed, measurable Performance Outcomes (PO). Each domain represents a specific percentage of the exam and is based on a Job Task Analysis.
As of March 2019, there are 5,502 actively certified CAP designees.
The psychometrician analyzes data from the CAP exam using Classical Test Theory (CTT) to evaluate item level qualities including item summary information and option level statistics. The psychometrician then makes recommendations for items to retire, exclude, or rekey, and determine a defensible cut score. He or she then reviews these recommendations with a group of SMEs; the primary goal of this analysis is to evaluate the quality of each item using indices including P value and Rpbis, flagging any items that are candidates for removal, revision, or improvement. Each examination is equated to both the Spring and Fall Examinations using a Rasch model (from Item Response Theory) and the same passing standard applied. The candidate scores calculated during the Rasch analysis are converted to scaled scores, which allows the scores from the current form to be compared to those of previous forms. The equating process ensures that candidates meet the same standard to pass the examination regardless of the difficulty of the examination form presented to them.
Job Task Analysis:
The CAP Program follows certification industry best practices to create and update the CAP exam. Subject matter experts, IAAP members, and practicing administrative professionals are involved throughout the process, which is overseen by highly trained assessment experts and a psychometrician.
A Job Task Analysis (JTA) study is the foundation for the examination specifications and, when approved, become the new Body of Knowledge. The Body of Knowledge specifications will be reviewed by the CAC and any necessary adjustments will be made before giving their approval.
The CAP exam is based on the CAP Body of Knowledge, which is developed by practicing professionals, business educators, and conducting a JTA study. The Body of Knowledge has a select number of domains, each with specific Performance Outcomes (PO), worth a designated percentage of exam content. POs are detailed, measurable competencies based on current best practices across a myriad of industries, which commonly employ administrative professionals. They represent the central and most significant information, skills, and competencies the candidate should know to pass the exam.
All examination forms will be assembled in accordance with the examination specifications. All test questions shall undergo a preliminary question analysis prior to release of the test results. Any question that does not meet accepted statistical is reviewed by the CAP Exam Panel, which determines whether the item should be: (a) scored “as is,” (b) scored with an alternate key(s), or (c) scored as correct for all responses.
The passing standard shall be set using a criterion-referenced methodology. The CAP Exam Panel will approve the passing score. Whenever examinee volumes permit, equating will be used to maintain the passing standard across different examination forms and to statistically adjust scores, as necessary, to compensate for differences in difficulty across examination forms.
The CAP is offered in spring and fall each year at testing locations around the world.
The CAP exam is a multiple-choice, computer-based test with approximately 300 questions and must be completed within 3 ½ hours.
TRANSFERS AND RESCHEDULING:
Should you need to transfer/postpone your exam, you must submit a CAP Exam Transfer Request Form, including the $150 transfer fee no later than 30 days prior to first day of the testing window. You MUST transfer to the next available testing window. You are allowed ONE exam transfer; if the exam is not taken after the transfer, the exam fee is forfeited, and you must wait six months to submit another exam application.
Should you need to reschedule your testing center appointment, it must be done more than 6 days prior to your appointment through the scheduling link you receive via email.
If you do not pass on your first exam attempt, you may take it a second time after paying the exam fee and submitting the application again. (education/work experience supporting documents are not required on the second application) If you do not pass your second exam attempt, you must wait at least one year before applying to take the exam a third time.
Accommodations may be available to individuals who have documented disabilities pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The CAP Program provides reasonable testing accommodations to candidates whose documented disabilities or other qualifying medical conditions hinder their ability to take the examination under standard conditions.
Examples of requests for special testing accommodations that may be granted include modification of seating or other physical arrangements in the testing facility, an ADA accessible testing center location, a reasonable extension of testing time, or a sign language interpreter (to assist with audio or spoken components, if any), reader, or other auxiliary aid. All accommodations must be pre-approved by the CAP Program staff. Complete and submit an Accommodations Request Form.
Accommodations are provided to qualified candidates with disabilities to the extent that such accommodation does not fundamentally alter the examination or cause an undue burden to the CAP Program or the test administration site. The cost of excessive accommodation requirements is to be borne by the candidate (i.e., electronic communication equipment, etc.).
An appeal may be made by a CAP applicant, candidate, or certified individual only regarding the following circumstances:
The CAP Program’s interpretation of candidate eligibility from the time of candidate inquiry or the filing of the initial application through the time of conferring of the credential;
Exam administration procedures, including denial of a request for accommodations;
Testing conditions severe enough to cause a major disruption of the examination process;
The exam score, including a request for rescoring of exam;
The CAP Program’s interpretation of standards required for recertification or for extenuating circumstances that did not allow the certified individual to earn sufficient points to obtain recertification.
The applicant, candidate, or certified individual who wishes to make an appeal (the “Appellant”) must submit an appeal in writing to the CAC within thirty (30) days of receipt of an adverse decision. This is done using the Certification Appeal Form describing the adverse decision and the reason for the appeal. The notice shall be sent via an efficient and verifiable means.
The request and supporting evidence will be reviewed by the CAC at their next meeting. Based on its review of the gathered information, including all materials provided by the Appellant, the CAC will vote.
Upon an affirmative vote of two-thirds majority, the CAC shall determine whether to grant the appeal, deny the appeal, or other required action. The CAC will notify the Appellant of their decision by an efficient and verifiable means.
The Certification Administration Committee
The Certification Administration Committee is an independent standing committee of the International Association of Administrative Professionals. The CAC awards the Certified Administrative Professional credential and is responsible for setting policy and standards related to the CAP Program.
The correct use of the CAP designation is as follows:
Correct: Jane Doe, CAP
Incorrect: Jane Doe, Certified Administrative Professional
Your CAP is active for three years before you are due to recertify. Click here to learn more about the recertification requirements, application process, and how to earn recertification points.
As a CAP designee, you can begin earning specialty certificates offered through IAAP. More details on the available specialties can be found here. Should you choose to include your specialties within your designation, they should read as the following:
Correct: Jane Doe, CAP, OM, TA
Incorrect: Jane Doe, CAP-OM, CAP-TA