The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) is the professional organization for the American Planning Association (APA), with a focus on verifying individual planner’s aptitude and skills. The AICP’s overarching goal is to ensure that planners who conduct themselves ethically and maintain their professional aptitude receive the proper certification.
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The APA reports that 87 percent of planning employers seek a staff that adheres to a code of ethics and that 97 percent of AICP members indicate that their certifications demonstrate their commitment to ethics.
So, in short, the AICP Certification Exam is a clear way to indicate professionally that you adhere to strict ethical standards and maintain a high level of standards and skills necessary to perform exceptionally in a planning professional.
How Do I Register to Take the AICP Certification Exam?
Before registering for the AICP Certification Exam, prospective participants must meet a short list of qualifications. These qualifications include:
- Candidates must be members of the APA
- Candidates must currently be or have been engaged in professional planning
- Candidates must complete educational and professional planning experience requirements, either:
- A graduate degree in planning from an accredited program, plus two years of professional planning experience
- A bachelor’s degree in planning from an accredited program, plus three years of professional planning experience
- A graduate degree in planning from an unaccredited program, plus three years of professional planning experience
- Any other post-graduate, graduate or undergraduate degree, plus four years of professional planning experience
- Or no college degree, plus eight years of professional planning experience
With these criteria met, prospective participants in the exam should submit applications on the APA website. This application will ask them to describe and verify their educational history, employment history and respond to eligibility criteria. Applicants will be expected to pay a $70 application fee and a $425 exam fee. Then, they will be able to schedule an exam time and date that works best for them.
What Specific Content Appears on the Certification Exam From AICP?
The content on the AICP Certification Exam is divided into several subsections, each of which covers different topic areas and makes up a different full percentage of the exam. The test consists of 170 multiple-choice questions, with 20 unidentified questions within that total as experimental questions that do not count toward the final score. Participants are given four hours total for the exam appointment. The exam is computer based. A selection of the specific content breakdown on the exam includes:
- Fundamental Knowledge of Planning (25 percent)
- The history, influence and movements of planning
- Theories regarding planning
- The foundational legal principles and decisions involved in planning
- Plan Implementation and Making (30 percent)
- Acquiring knowledge and performing research
- Analyzing spaces
- Engaging the public
- Practice Areas (30 percent)
- Neighborhood and community planning
- Planning for sustainability
- Planning for transportation
- Management, Administration and Leadership (5 percent)
- External relationship management
- Management of internal organizations
- Applications related to technology
- The ACIP Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics (10 percent)
- Aspirational principles
- Rules of conduct
- Procedural provisions
What Items Can I and Can I Not Bring With Me to Take this Exam on AICP Certification?
In order to gain entry to the exam center, participants in the AICP Certification Exam will have to bring with them two forms of identification that bear their name and signature, one of which must include a recent photo as well.
Participants will be given scratch paper and will be granted access to a calculator on the computer. Participants are not permitted to bring their own calculators, scrap paper, books, reference materials or pencils, among other prohibited items.
How Can I Get an Excellent Score on the Certification Exam for the American Institute of Certified Planners?
The AICP Certification Exam is steeped heavily in content focused around the planning profession and the APA’s own code of content. Because of this niche content focus, participants should study with the aid of a tailor-made study guide in order to achieve a passing score on the exam. To accurately reproduce this knowledge on a multiple-choice test with over 100 questions, it is encouraged that prospective participants drill with a set of study flashcards made for the exam.