Earning your Certification credentials demonstrates your aptitude as an administrative and office support professional. It reflects your achievement and commitment to excellence through life-long learning. It's an investment in your career that shows employers, coworkers, customers, and clients your commitment to the profession.
Earning and maintaining your Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) demonstrates your professional knowledge and mastery of vital competencies:
Indicates your dedication to your profession and initiative to stay current in an ever-changing marketplace.
Shows your employer you are a valuable member of the team committed to professional development.
Builds invaluable personal and professional confidence.
Provides new career opportunities and a competitive advantage over applicants without certifications.
Allows for the potential to earn a higher salary, receive promotions, and/or bonus.
College credit through Credit for Prior Learning (CPL)
Certification is a cost-effective way to prove that your expertise is relevant and up to date. You're passing the industry's measurement of knowledge based on skill assessment and industry competency.
An assessment-based professional certification is earned by meeting several requirements differentiating it from other training or educational programs.
The four main components are:
A required level of experience and education.
Passing a rigorous exam.
Exam is not associated with a particular program or course offered by the certifying body.
Continued professional development through specific recertification requirements.
The CAP exam is administered throughout North America and select international locations twice a year. It is based upon a professionally developed and industry vetted Body of Knowledge (BOK).
The CAP Body of Knowledge has six domains, each with a specific Performance Outcome (PO) and is worth a designated percentage of exam content. Performance Outcomes are detailed, measurable competencies based on current best practices across a myriad of industries, which commonly employ administrative professionals. Most POs have sub-points that help to further breakdown specific areas of competency.
The domains represent the central and most significant information, skills, and goals the candidate should know to pass the exam.
Earning and maintaining your CAP is a three-step process. First, candidates must meet the eligibility requirements and submit an application. Once approved, candidates must sit for and pass the CAP exam. After the credential is earned, designees must maintain it by fulfilling recertification requirements every three years.
Candidates must meet specific education and administrative office support professional experience, which are:
No College Degree - 4 years of relevant work experience is required
Associates Degree - 3 years of relevant work experience is required
Bachelors Degree - 2 years of relevant work experience is required
All relevant work experience must have been earned within the last ten years.
What is relevant work experience? CAP certification is designed for office and administrative professionals who engage in some, if not all, of the following:
Communicate within the organization (both verbal and written)
Conduct business writing, including proofreading and editing
Maintain office functions and record keeping
Plan meetings, events, and arrange travel
Engage in or support human relations activities, such as hiring and compliance issues
Maintain budgets and basic accounting functions
Manage time and other resources for themselves and others
Utilize technology, including virtual and mobile, with strong computer and internet research skills
Coordinate communications between internal staff and/or external clients
If you meet one of the education and professional experience combinations above, you are ready to complete your CAP application.
You must complete the current Certified Administrative Professional application to apply for the CAP exam. Membership with IAAP is not required for CAP certification, however members do receive discounts on the exam and exam materials.
If you are a new candidate applying for the CAP exam you will need to submit the following:
Completed Qualifying Administrative Experience Form (included in the PDF application) or upload a current resume
Copy of a college degree or a transcript if submitting less than four years' experience
Attestation to uphold the IAAP's Code of Conduct (included in application) which is a required attestation for all IAAP members and is now a required attestation for all persons earning the CAP credential regardless of IAAP membership status.
The IAAP Code of Conduct is posted on the IAAP website here.
If you are a retake candidate, you will need to submit only the following (if previous attempt was within three years):
All applications must be received by IAAP by the posted deadlines. When your application has been reviewed and accepted, you will receive an acknowledgment and your name will be entered on the roster of eligible candidates.
See a list of recent CAP Designees here.Tools to get your boss on board can be found here.
When it is time to schedule the date and time for your exam, you will receive detailed instructions on how to register with an Assessment Systems approved testing center. Click here to find out which center is the closest to you.
Please note this map is for informational purposes only. The CAP Exam scheduling process is coordinated through IAAP Headquarters and Assessment Systems, candidates should not contact the testing centers directly.
Duration and Format
Number of questions: Approximately 300
Length: 3 1/2 hours
Testing Provider: Assessment Systems
Helpful Application Tips
Applying to take the CAP Exam is easy. But, there are a few things you need to know before you submit your application. The information below will help you gather the appropriate information before you begin the application.
We need to verify your relevant work experience, so you will be asked to submit the position title, dates of employment, company name and address, and a summary of duties performed for each position you submit as relevant work experience. If you have an updated resume which includes all the information needed for each position you may submit your resume to satisfy this requirement.
If you are using a college degree to satisfy eligibility, you must submit a copy of your degree or a transcript which includes verification of your earned degree.
The fee to take the CAP Exam is $375 for IAAP Members and $560 for nonmembers.
Nonmembers can join IAAP when applying for the exam to receive the member discount. Plus, as an IAAP Member it is easier to earn recertification points after you pass the exam!
All fees are non-refundable once your application has been processed. Candidates are allowed to delay their exam date a maximum of two consecutive times with a rescheduling fee of $150 for each transfer.
The CAP Program's relationship is directly with the candidate. If an employer agrees to pay for an individual's exam and the employee later departs from the company, the individual is still entitled to take the examination. The Program will not cancel the individual from the exam at the request of the individual's employer or former employer.
The CAP Program offers two options to submit your application. You can download the fillable PDF application and mail or email it to IAAP with you payment. Or, you can use the online application to electronically submit both your application and payment.
To ensure the integrity of the exams, random audits of initial exam candidates are conducted to verify the accuracy of the information submitted. An individual's application may be denied due to failure to meet eligibility requirements, an incomplete application, missing payment, or missing documentation. The CAP Program will notify and work with the applicant to help resolve any issue. Applicants who do not qualify for the exam, or if the application is denied, receive a full refund of any fees paid.
CAP Exam Preparation
There are many resources you can use to make sure you feel confident and prepared when you take your exam.
The first step is to download the CAP Body of Knowledge (BOK) and take the time to review each domain, performance outcome, and sub-point. Highlight the areas you believe might be weak areas for you and use that information to map out your study plan. For example, for content areas you have a good understanding of and use every day, you may only need to do a quick review to prepare for the test, whereas for areas with which you are less familiar, you may decide that you need more in-depth study or training before taking the test.
The CAP Program recommends creating a written study plan, no matter what methods of study you use, will help ensure you dedicate the time necessary to feel confident about taking the exam.
You may choose to study on you own or you may decide to take a seminar/workshop to gain a better understanding of one or more content areas. If you know other individuals in your area who are taking the exam, you may want to form a study group. Additionally, some certified individuals offer study groups to help candidates prepare for the exam. The groups are not affiliated with IAAP or the CAP Program.
Below is a list of preparation materials and resources available to CAP candidate. Everyone should carefully select which will help them best prepare for the exam based on preferred learning styles and current knowledge base. 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.
IAAP CAP Study Guide is a great resource to get started with your studies. The CAP Study Guide was developed by subject-matter experts using the CAP Body of Knowledge
IAAP CAP Exam Prep Smartbook developed by McGraw-Hill Education takes the CAP Study Guide to a new level of exam preparation using adaptive learning technology. A continually personalized reading experience is created by highlighting the most impactful concepts you need to learn at that moment in time.
Practice CAP Exam - For those planning to sit for the CAP exam, this practice exam is an additional resource to help your test-taking skills within a timed multiple-choice computerized environment. This exam can be taken on your own computer and contains retired CAP exam questions. The structure of the practice exam is similar to the actual test, and must be completed within 3 1/2 hours.
Some colleges also offer CAP exam preparation courses. Click here for a list of those we are aware of.
CAP Core Resources:
Bovee, C. L., and J. V. Thill. 2015. Business Communication Today, 13th Edition. Pearson Prentice-Hall.
Rankin, D., and K. Shumack. 2016. The Administrative Professional: Technology and Procedures, 15th Edition. Delmar Cengage Learning
Shockley-Zalabak, Pamela. 2014. Fundamentals of Organizational Communication, 9th Edition. Pearson.
Vermaat, M. E., S. L. Sebok, S. M. Freund, J. T. Campbell, and M. Frydenberg. 2016. Enhanced Discovering Computers 2016, 1st Edition. Cengage Learning
The CAP Core Resources are examples of reference texts subject-matter experts use when writing CAP exam questions. These books are not the only sources for this information, candidates may find books on similar topics at their local library. Please refer to the CAP Body of Knowledge for additional subject-specific textbook recommendations.
HigherEd.org in cooperation with the IAAP aligned the CAP Body of Knowledge with free or low cost online resources.
*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 - Preparation Reference for 2017 CAP Exam 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 Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) exam is governed by the Certification Administration Board (CAB) whose members are not involved with the development or administration of any preparatory resource. The CAP Study Tools mentioned on the IAAP Website are for reference only and do not guarantee success on the examination. IAAP’s goal is to provide candidates with access to a variety of quality preparation options.
Delay of Exam Date: Candidates may delay their exam to the next available testing period after approval of the application provided the request is submitted directly to the CAP Program at least 14 days before the testing period begins. A rescheduling fee of $150 shall be required. Reschedule Form
Upon two delays to the next testing period and payment of two rescheduling fees the exam fee is forfeited and after a waiting period of six months, a new application must be filed and the exam fee paid to qualify to take the exam. The Qualifying Administrative Experience is not required to be filed as long the new application is within five years of the date of the initial application.
Retesting: Candidates who desire to retake the examination after failing to pass on the first or second attempt must submit an exam fee the same as paid for the previous attempt and a completed application without all the required documentation of the initial application. Documentation of work experience or education is not required. If there is not a passing score after the first two attempts to pass the candidate must wait one year following the second attempt before making a third attempt.
Accommodations: 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, or providing for the examination to be taken in an accessible location, providing for a reasonable extension of testing time, providing 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. Candidates requesting accommodations need to complete the 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.).
Testing Issues: Issues with the CAP exam testing site, equipment, or monitors experienced by the candidate must be reported within 24 hours after completing the exam. Please contact the Manager, Certifications at firstname.lastname@example.org to document the issue or by phone to (816-891-6600) to discuss the issue.
General questions about the CAP exam and/or the scoring process after receiving your score follows the same procedure. If you decide to make a request for recalculation of scoring by a psychometrician as well as an appeal of exam results this must be submitted in writing no later than 30 days after receipt of the Performance Report. All issues and appeals must be directed to email@example.com using the CAP Certification Appeals Form.
Cancellation of Test Under Extraordinary Circumstances: If a candidate is unable to arrive at a designated exam site because of inclement weather, terrorist acts, or a natural disaster, then the candidate has the option of taking the examination at the next administration testing period without being charged an additional fee. The candidate must notify the Manager, Certification of their inability to arrive and the details as soon as possible with documentation of the circumstances. It will be the decision of Manager, Certification to confirm the reasons are valid enough for the fee to be waived for the next testing period.
If a designated examination site is rendered unusable as determined by Assessment Systems because of inclement weather, terrorist acts, a natural disaster, or other similar circumstances then the examination will be rescheduled to the next testing period. There will be no additional fee.
The decision to cancel testing at a site during the testing period will be made by the Manager, Certification in consultation with Assessment Systems.
Delay of Exam Date Due to Emergency: If a candidate provides verifiable and documented notice to the CAP Program seven days prior to the end of the testing period due to a documented medical or personal emergency there shall be no rescheduling fee. The case of an emergency is decided on a case-by-case basis by the Manager, Certification. The individual will be required to reschedule to the next testing period with payment of a fee or a rescheduling fee will be required for later testing periods.
Failure to Take the Exam: Once the application is accepted the fee is non-refundable regardless of further action by the applicant to take the exam or not including but not limited to:
Failure to show up for a CAP exam as scheduled by the candidate
Cancellation from the CAP exam without proper notice as described above
Failure to schedule an appointment with Assessment Systems within the CAP exam testing period
CAP Program Diversity Statement: 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.
Use of the CAP Designation
If a candidate takes and passes the CAP exam, they earn certification and the use of the CAP designation after their name for a period of three years before having to recertify.
Example:Correct: Jane Doe, CAP
Incorrect: Jane Doe, Certified Administrative Professional
CAP Certification is required to hold a specialty, such as Organizational Management(OM). There is no CAP-OM certification; only CAP certification with a specialty of OM. Some designees choose to include their specialties after CAP.
With the launch of the new exam and application for accreditation of the CAP, changes are being made in the designation used by individuals who previously earned the OM or TA specialty. Effective November 1, 2017, these two specialties and any other certificate programs in the future may not be used as part of the certification designation. Earning a certificate is different from earning a certification. The major differences are that a certificate does not require recertification or meeting continuing education requirements. This has always been the case with OM and TA specialties so the only difference is how they are used.
Example:Correct: Jane Doe, CAP, OM, TA
Incorrect: Jane Doe, CAP-OM, CAP-TA
Certifications standout from many other credentials because they not only assess your level of knowledge and skills at a specific point but also show your commitment to life-long learning through the recertification process.
CAP designees maintain their knowledge and skills through professional development activities submitted for approval every three years. Find more information about recertification here.
As of November 2017, there are 5,973 actively certified CAP designees.
Earning and maintaining your Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) is a three-step process. First, candidates must meet the eligibility requirements and apply. Once approved, candidates must sit for and pass the CAP exam. After the credential is earned, designees must maintain it by fulfilling recertification requirement.
The number above represents those who have maintained their CAP credential and are actively certified.
The Certification Administration Professional Program (CAP Program) operates as an independent certifying body of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). The activities of the CAP program are governed by the Certification Administration Board (CAB). The CAB awards the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) credential and is responsible for setting policy and standards related to the CAP Program
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 CAB 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. PO 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 in order 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 criteria shall be reviewed by the CAP Exam Commission, which will determine whether the item should be: (a) scored “as is,” (b) scored with an alternate key(s), or (c) scored as correct for all responses. Exam Scoring. The passing standard shall be set using a criterion-referenced methodology. The CAP Exam Commission 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.
For more details on the CAP Exam Scoring and Equating, please refer to the Executive Summary.
Composition of CAP Exam Commission:
The Commission is comprised of 10-11 persons, two Certification Administrative Board (CAB) members and 9-10 CAP designees selected by the Manager, Certifications. Members are representative of the certified population, demographically, geographically, industry, and length of time certified.