IABC’s accreditation program is the global standard of professional achievement for business communicators. Accredited members practicing around the world apply the same strategic management process in all communication disciplines, across diverse cultures, and in for-profit and nonprofit organizations of all sizes. This peer-reviewed program challenges candidates to demonstrate their knowledge of strategic communication planning, implementation, measurement and ethics. Candidates who meet all requirements earn the designation Accredited Business Communicator (ABC).
Accreditation Program Q&As
Drafted by Gail Pickard, ABC
Last Updated: April 18, 2013
5 April Deadline for first portfolio submission
1 June Deadline for portfolios to be graded and results returned to candidates
1 June Deadline to register for the exam being held at IABC World Conference in New York on Saturday, 22 June
15 June Deadline to re-submit portfolio if needed
22 June Exam at IABC World Conference in New York
31 August Final date to take the exam. No exams dated after 31 August will be accepted.
30 September Deadline to notify candidates of exam results
1 November Tentative launch date of new program
Q. Why are changes to the current accreditation program needed?
A. There are a number of reasons driving the need for change, based on several years of discussion and consultation:
- Interest in accreditation has outstripped the association’s capacity: The current program relies heavily on volunteer (ABC) time, is costly to maintain and not scalable for growth.
- Pass rates are low and the time required to complete the current program is lengthy. These factors have negatively affected candidates’ commitment to follow through and complete the program.
- The current accreditation program is difficult to administer outside of North America: In order to become a truly global standard, we need to address this issue.
- The current program has no entry point for mid-level professionals who have asked for some form of certification of their skills.
Q. Is IABC accepting new candidates into the current accreditation program?
A. No. The deadline to apply for the existing program was 30 September 2012.
Q. When will candidates be able to apply for the new program?
A. That date has not yet been set, but we are working towards a late 2013/early 2014 launch of a new program.
Q. What is IABC doing to support candidates completing the current program?
A. The accreditation committee, which is a group of IABC volunteers appointed by the international executive board, has made this a top priority and are working with staff at IABC headquarters to support all candidates who wish to complete the current process. We are reaching out to current ABCs to assist with the speedy evaluation of portfolios and exams, and creating as many opportunities for exam sittings as we can between now and 31 August. There will be an exam at IABC World Conference in New York City on Saturday, 22 June 2013. We will also publish a list of regional and chapter exam dates on iabc.com.
Q. What if my portfolio that I submitted on 5 April doesn’t pass?
A. You will receive feedback no later than 1 June and have until 15 June to re-submit your portfolio. The final date to take the exam is 31 August 2013.
Q. What happens if I have not completed all the steps to achieve my ABC by 30 September 2013?
A. You will be transitioned to the new program. For example, if you have submitted a portfolio and have passed, you would be eligible to take the exam under the new program.
Q. What if I don’t want to stay in the current program and would rather wait to see what the new program is like?
A. All current candidates received a letter advising them that if they have applied but have not yet submitted a portfolio, they may choose to:
a) Receive a full refund of their application fee, OR
b) Apply their fee to the new program.
However, candidates who wished to receive a refund must have confirmed this by 31 March 2013. We are encouraging all candidates who are in the current program to work toward completing the new program prior to 30 September 2013.
Q. Given that fail rates have been an issue in the past, will the new program be “easier” to pass?
A. What we know is that the communication profession has changed considerably since the current accreditation program was designed. We need to update how we are evaluating communication competency. We are still working out the logistics, but the general philosophy of evaluating a communicator’s competence will remain core to the new program design and there will continue to be a rigorous exam.
Q. Has the design of the new program been finalized?
A. No. The accreditation task force, in consultation with the accreditation committee, is working on the design of the new program, based on input from a certification consultant (the results of which were shared with ABCs earlier this year) and on feedback from IABC members. We expect any future program to have similar steps (i.e., a pre-qualification or pre-application step, including proof of education and experience, some form of case study submission, and an exam). However, the exact details are still a work in progress. The development and piloting of the new program will continue to be a consultative process, while at the same time evolve decisively toward the launch of a new program.
Q. Will some form of re-certification be required every few years?
A. It is likely that will be part of the new program, as that is the standard for professional certification programs. This may include professional development and/or volunteer credits.
Q. Will the new program align with ISO standards? Why is that important?
A. The ISO standard is highly valued outside North America so aligning with ISO would support our objective of expanding the global appeal of communication certification. At this point we are still determining the design of the new program, including what standards it would have to meet to align with ISO, taking into consideration the feedback we’ve received from members to date.
Q. When will the accreditation committee share the design of the new program?
A. We plan to share a proposed design for the new program at the IABC World Conference in New York—watch for more details. We will also share information online and continue to solicit input from members.
Q. Will current ABCs be grandfathered into the new certification/accreditation program?
A. Finding a way to grandfather current ABCs into any new program is a top priority for the accreditation committee. At this point in time, however, we cannot confirm exactly how that will work.
Q. Who can I contact for more information or to ask questions?
A. If you are a current candidate and you have questions about the status of your portfolio or exam results, please contact Mary Ann Boyle at IABC headquarters. If you have questions about the status of the program, please contact any member of the accreditation committee:
Chair, Gloria Walker, ABC email@example.com
Vice Chair, Stephanie Griffiths, ABC firstname.lastname@example.org
Past Chair, Jennifer Wah, ABC email@example.com
Director of Examinations, Mary Ann McCauley, ABC MAM@Catalystcomm.net
Director of Examinations, Shawna Cass, ABC firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Portfolios, Dan Maceluch, ABC email@example.com
Director of Evaluators, Gail Pickard, ABC firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of International Accreditation-Outside North America, Rajeev Kumar, ABC email@example.com
Director of International Accreditation, North America, Ginger Homan, ABC firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also view one of two webinars that have been delivered on this topic here:
Q. How can I provide my input?
A. If you are attending IABC World Conference in New York in June, please drop by the accreditation booth in the Exhibit Hall. You may email comments to email@example.com and they will be forwarded to the appropriate person.
ACCREDITATION UPDATE-WEBINAR & HANDOUT
Listen to this webinar recording for a one hour update on the IABC accreditation program hosted by IABC/British Columbia. In this session, you will learn about new options and a revised timeline for current accreditation candidates and hear an update on the progress of the new credentialing program currently under development. The half hour presentation is followed by an extensive question and answer session. The webinar is moderated by British Columbia Chapter President, Karin Basaraba and presented by Accreditation Committee members Jennifer Wah, ABC, MC, Committee Past Chair, with assistance from Gail Pickard, ABC, Director of Examiners.
Accreditation Update Webinar Recording and handout
LETTER TO ABCs FROM ACCREDITATION COMMITEE CHAIR, GLORIA WALKER, ABC, FRSA March 2013
Read Accreditation Chair, Gloria Walker's update on accreditation committee activity in her March letter to ABCs .
ATTENTION CURRENT CANDIDATES: NEW DEADLINES AND PROCEDURES FOR ACCREDITATION COMPLETION
We are in the process of revising the current accreditation program which will close in its current form on 30 September 2013. To address the closure, new deadlines and procedures are being implemented for current candidates as follows:
For candidates in the portfolio stage:
- New or revised portfolios are due 5 April 2013. For candidates who have not yet submitted a portfolio:
- If you do not plan to turn in a portfolio, you can request a refund by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org before 5 April. If a request for a refund is not submitted by that time, you will automatically receive a credit towards the new program.
- Evaluator circles have been organized to grade the portfolios and communicate the results to candidates as quickly as possible.
- For candidates who pass the portfolio portion, you can take the exam locally, at World Conference, or wait and take the new certification exam at no additional charge.
- For candidates who do not pass the portfolio, you may use the content as part of the application process for the new program.
For candidates in the exam stage:
- Candidates may take the exam locally or at World Conference. The accreditation committee is compiling a list of all scheduled exams to help candidates find one that works best for them.
- If you are planning to take the exam at World Conference, please notify Mary Ann Boyle (email@example.com) at IABC headquarters by 1 June 2013 so you are included in that session. If you want to take the exam locally, please contact your chapter or region accreditation leader.
- If you would like to take a local exam, you need to contact their chapter or regional accreditation leader.
- The deadline for new exams and retakes is 31 August 2013. Grading will be completed by September 30 and candidates will be informed of their results.
- If you do not pass the exam you will be eligible to take the new certification exam at no additional charge, as long as you meet the new application requirements, which are currently being developed.
If you have any questions about your situation, please contact IABC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IABC ACCREDITATION PROGRAM NO LONGER ACCEPTING NEW APPLICATIONS
Applications to the accreditation program are temporarily suspended while a revised program is being developed. Current candidates will continue to move through the program by submitting portfolios and taking the ABC exam.Our accreditation program has been through a number of changes in its three decades in an effort to keep pace with the evolution of our industry. Our goal is to improve the program to make it fit-for-purpose for 21st century practitioners and for a 21st century profession. Please check this site for program updates.
AMNESTY DEADLINE PASSED FOR APPLICANTS BETWEEN JANUARY 2008 AND JANUARY 2011
If your accreditation application was approved between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2010, and you have not completed the process (portfolio and/or exam) you must reapply to the new accreditation program scheduled to launch November 2013. Previously submitted portfolios and exam results will not apply.