The American Institute of Certified Planners is APA's professional institute and provides the only nationwide, independent verification of planners' qualifications. Certified planners pledge to uphold high standards of practice, ethics, and professional conduct, and to keep their skills sharp and up to date by continuously pursuing advanced professional education.
Value of Certification
The most recent APA/AICP Planners Salary Survey shows that certified planners earn more than noncertified planners, even when experience and responsibility are considered. It also opens more career opportunities and can enhance a planner's professional credibility — four out of five AICP members attribute their career advancement to having earned AICP certification.
"AICP" is shorthand for education, experience, breadth of knowledge, ethical practice, and commitment to the planning profession. AICP planners average 14–18 years of experience in the field. Hiring a certified planner also demonstrates your commitment to the highest standard of ethical practice.
"I'm an employer. I look for the AICP credential in our screening process to find the best and most qualified employees for our planning positions."
— Rodger Lentz, AICP; Director of Planning and Development Services, Wilson, North Carolina
5 Steps to Certification
Certified planners verify their academic and professional achievements by passing a rigorous, comprehensive examination. Learn about your eligibility, the application process, exam dates, registration, and preparation:
AICP Candidate Pilot Program
Jump-start your path to certification! The AICP Candidate Pilot Program offers qualified APA members the opportunity to take the AICP Certification Exam prior to earning professional planning experience.
for AICP Members
The Certification Maintenance (CM) program links certified planners to training opportunities that keep them up to date on the latest trends, technologies, and best practices.
Certification Maintenance (CM) Providers are organizations approved by AICP/APA to provide continuing education activities and events for CM credits to the 16,000 professional planners seeking professional development. Review our CM Provider Toolkit for details about this program.
Advanced Specialty Certification
AICP Advanced Specialty Certification recognizes certified planners for their in-depth knowledge, experience, and leadership skills in specialized areas of planning. The three advanced certifications are:
- AICP Certified Transportation Planner (AICP CTP)
- AICP Certified Environmental Planner (AICP CEP)
- AICP Certified Urban Designer (AICP CUD)
Election to AICP Fellow is one of the highest honors that the American Institute of Certified Planners bestows upon a member. Fellowship is granted to planners who have been members of AICP and have achieved excellence in professional practice, teaching and mentoring, research, public and community service, and leadership. Those chosen become members of the College of Fellows.
Ethics in Planning
The AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct helps AICP members negotiate the tough ethical and moral dilemmas they sometimes face.
AICP Commissioners, elected by the members of AICP, are leaders of the profession. They set standards for the practice of planning, maintain the code of ethics, advocate on behalf of the profession, and establish the qualifications for membership in the Institute.
Volunteer planning teams offer their time and expertise to people and places where additional resources are needed.