Certification and Licensing

Certified planners carry a high mark of distinction because they are required to meet rigorous standards, maintain their expertise through continuing education, and be committed to community interests.

American Institute of Certified Planners

The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) offers the preeminent certification process for planning professionals in the United States.

Candidates for certification must pass the AICP Exam, which covers specific Planning Knowledge Standards. Certified planners are required to adhere to the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.

The American Institute of Certified Planners is committed to providing quality continuing educational opportunities. AICP planners are required to engage in mandatory continuing education through the Certification Maintenance program. APA and AICP provide many training opportunities. Chapters of APA also provide continuing education through APA Chapter Professional Development Officers.

Certified Planners are distinguished by their commitment, through actions and policies, to issues of social equity and social responsibility. Explore the Community Assistance Program and the socially responsible policies of APA.

Certified planners earn more, on average, than non-certified planners. For more information, consult our Salary/Compensation Survey.


It is the position of the American Planning Association not to support state legislation to regulate the practice or title of professional planning. As of 2019, only New Jersey requires a license to practice planning. Visit the website of APA's New Jersey Chapter.

Some states, such as Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee, have enacted legislation pertaining to the credentialing of planning commissioners and other planning officials.

Please view our Licensing Task Force Final Report for more information on APA's position on licensing.

For additional information, including historical background, regarding the issue of licensing within the planning profession, download the article "Certification, Licensing, and Registration of Planners."