Many administrators who want to develop their professional knowledge and skills, demonstrate their professional excellence, increase the respect they earn, climb the career ladder and earn an increase in salary and benefits opt to take the Certification for the Administrative Professional (CAP) examination administered by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP).
The CAP tests candidates for their knowledge of up to date technology used in administration; their ability to communicate information clearly and fully; their ability to understand the different types of communication they receive; their efficiency in applying organizational skills; and other areas of importance to administrators.
The IAAP understands that individuals arrive at the decision to take the CAP by a variety of unique avenues; for this reason, they offer a few different sets of accomplishments that qualify candidates to take the exam. Candidates who have worked in the field of office administration for a minimum of four years are not required to have a degree in administration. Those with an Associate’s degree must combine education with three years of on- the- job experience. Candidates who have completed a Bachelor’s degree in administration are required to also have two years of work experience.
Candidates who have temporarily left the field are still permitted to use experience previously gained, as long as that experience goes back no further than 15 years. For all candidates, experience with multiple employers is acceptable as long as there is at least one full year of experience with a single employer. Furthermore, for applicants who worked part- time in administration while earning a degree, raising a family or for other reasons, scheduled work that didn’t fall below 20 hours per week can also be applied. Applicants must prove the accuracy of the work requirement by supplying a completed Job Function & Employer’s Statement, or a supervisor’s records of dates worked, assigned tasks and job title.
First time candidates are required to complete an application, prove work experience and pay registration and testing fees. Those who do not succeed in passing and must retest do not need to resubmit the work verification packet; however, they will be required to reregister and to pay all applicable fees. The CAP is administered two times a year. Application deadline dates are approximately ten weeks prior to test dates, although an extended late registration period is offered with a late fee.
Members of the International Association of Administrative Professionals are offered a reduced fee of $375. All other candidates will pay $560 to register and take the CAP. Other fees apply for special circumstances, for example, a candidate’s request to postpone testing until the next cycle.
Test candidates will receive a pass or fail performance report within a month and a half following the CAP exam; scoring is done by Institute for Certification educators with the assistance of a psychometric consultant. Passing candidates earn a five year certification; this must be renewed after five years in order to keep the certification in active status.
Depending upon certain variables, a candidate might be required to complete up to six hours of community college course work prior to being admitted to the exam.
In order of importance to overall test scores, the CAP poses questions in eight categories: Organizational Communications; Business Writing and Document Production; Technology and Information Distribution; Office and Records Management; Event and Project Management; Human Resources; and Financial Functions.
The CAP is given in many locations around the world. It is strongly advised that a candidate should register as early as possible to guarantee the preferred location can be arranged. Candidates should also begin preparing for the CAP far in advance. This test is designed to evaluate a candidate’s true knowledge and skills, and many of the questions are complex or difficult. Even long- time administrators may have difficulty passing the CAP without considerable review of college textbook materials.
The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) requires that individuals who have obtained certification through passing the Certification for the Administrative Professional (CAP) examination be recertified every five years as a condition for maintaining active status.
The nonprofit IAAP believes that due to the constantly evolving nature of administrative careers based upon changes in technology, communication, and business practices, it is essential to require that all certified professionals present evidence of sufficient continuing education and development within the field at regular intervals. A high degree of competency and professional facility is evidenced by certification; without guaranteeing employers, fellow employees and others who are affected by administrative decisions that these high expectations are maintained, certification would rapidly lose its value.
CAP certified administrators are required to earn points in three areas in order to remain certified every five years. In all, 60 points must be earned in Continuing Education, Leadership and Other Certifications. Those members and affiliates who earned certification but do not keep it in active status become inactive on the books. Furthermore, they are not permitted to promote themselves as certified once their credentials have fallen into disuse.
While continuing education and other experiences can contribute points toward recertification, the specific event or experience must be qualified by the IAAP. Education sessions in any of the eight content sections in the CAPS exam are permitted to be used toward recertification, as long as at least a full hour of education is delivered. Sessions that are purely informational, though, such as a tour, will not be allowed to contribute points toward recertification.
Classes that can contribute points toward the required recertification might include, for example, those that teach Microsoft Office Suite or anti- virus programs; ergonomics; budgeting office resources; electronic or paper records maintenance; identity theft prevention; keeping personal records or company records secure; and file retention. Courses that address document design and production, including layout; in- office or outside printing and binding or desktop publishing options are also considered to be acceptable contributors to recertification. Administrators who study computer systems configuration, installing hardware devices such as a printer, external hard drive, keyboard or monitor, or learn how a network can be set up can also claim points.
A course in nonverbal communication, technical writing, resume creation or verbal communication skills will also qualify for points. Other communication- based courses that are eligible for recertification points include those that teach attendees high level presentation skills, or how high- context and low- context cultures affect the workplace via inclusion or exclusion.
Courses that sharpen participants’ interviewing techniques, heighten their awareness of discrimination, principles of management or other human resources issues are also eligible to earn points. Learning about strategic or organizational planning, or how to better handle time management areas such as scheduling, meeting arrangements or Gantt charts are considered to be qualified for recertification points. Administrators who pursue continuing education in order to develop mentoring skills or learn better research methods can claim this time as a legitimate contribution.
Other areas that are likely to be eligible toward recertification include courses that focus on conflict resolution; accounting procedures; allocation of resources; accounting analysis; financial statements; and effective methods of conducting office meetings.
There can be a relatively fine line between certain topics. For example, while a course that addresses violence in the workplace or one that focuses on the importance of using negotiation and communication to reduce tension would be considered eligible; however, a course for volunteers in domestic abuse situations would not. While learning how to create a disaster plan to protect and recover data, equipment or personnel in a crisis qualifies for points, a course which trains participants in specific CPR techniques does not. A course that offers paralegal training, teaches attendees to do legal research, or trains them to become a notary do not qualify for recertification points; however, a course that specifically addresses legal issues that concern business or government are likely to qualify.
Certification For The Administrative Professional Organizational Management Specialty
In addition to the Certification for the Administrative Professional (CAP) test, the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) offers an Organizational Management (OM) specialty for administrators who want to go the next step. This is a means by which highly capable individuals within the field of administration can demonstrate a higher level of training, knowledge and skills, either in order to advance more rapidly or simply for the satisfaction and increased self esteem such a specialty allows. In some cases, it may be possible for individuals to apply the OM specialty as college credits, thus gaining maximum benefits.
This three and a half hour exam offers 300 multiple choice questions in four focuses; Organizational Planning; Advanced Communication; Advanced Administration; and Team Skills. The fee for this examination is $125 for IAAP members and $175 for non- members who register by the application deadline. Those who register late will be charged a $50 late fee. Results will be posted six weeks following the testing date. In order to sit for this OM specialty, candidates must have either already earned certification by passing the CAP, or they must be testing for both the CAP and the OM specialty simultaneously.
The Organizational Planning portion of the OM specialty accounts for 36% of the exam’s total score. This area focuses on questions that are concerned with strategic planning; the steps involved in decision making; and critical thinking skills and approaches. In addition, the candidate should be prepared to select the correct multiple choice answer for questions concerned with the allocation of resources as well as with communicating company values and mission statements.
Questions posed in the Advanced Communication portion of the OM specialty of the Certification for the Administrative Professional carry 27% of the exam’s total weight. These questions look at verbal and nonverbal communication styles and techniques, and making effective presentations using a range of communication patterns and methods. This area of the test is also concerned with legal issues in communication, as well as with professional codes of behavior.
The third area of testing is Advanced Administration. This part of the OM specialty delivers 23% of the total test score, and involves questions concerned with organizing, conducting and recording research; delegating responsibilities within and outside the department; empowering other employees to act independently within certain contexts; and acting as a project manager in terms of project coordination. Styles and issues in training and mentoring are also addressed in this portion of the test.
The final section of the OM specialty of the CAP, Team Skills, is responsible for 14% of the test’s final score. The Team Skills section poses questions that look at conflict resolution within groups; how to most efficiently and effectively conduct meetings; and working with others to resolve problematic tasks. This section is most concerned with the best techniques for composing highly functional professional teams, as well as with how such teams can most effectively be lead.
It is strongly recommended that candidates who already have CAP certification or who intend to sit for the certification test at the same time as the Organizational Management exam go into it fully prepared. While there is no penalty for failing the specialty, there is another registration fee required for subsequent attempts. In addition, since the purpose of earning this certification is to advance more quickly, there’s no logical reason to attempt it in a half- hearted manner.
Specific Content Of The Certification For The Administrative Professional Examination
The Certification for the Administrative Professional (CAP) Examination given by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) allows test candidates four and a half hours to complete between 300 and 350 multiple choice questions. The questions are designed to ascertain the candidate’s knowledge and skills at three levels. The first is their basic knowledge of administration, including common terms and factual information. The next level investigates the degree to which a candidate grasps more abstract concepts, such as the operating principles and procedures currently used in administrative practice. At the third level, a candidate must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of how these concepts are applied in real- world situations. All questions are multiple choice; this means that it is important for the candidate to respond to each question rather than skipping those he doesn’t understand. Even without being certain of the answer, a candidate has a chance of guessing correctly; but an answer that isn’t attempted will always be scored as incorrect.
The CAP exam posits questions in eight categories; Communication; Organization and Planning; Records Management; Information Distribution; Physical and Information Resources; Document Production; Financial Functions; and Human Resources.
- The Communications portion of the test composes 18% of the final score. This section features questions that are concerned with customer service, team interaction, and grammatically correct written communications such as interoffice memos or orders. Candidates must also demonstrate competency in terms of reading, understanding and responding to documents and reports, as well as other business correspondence. Questions that focus on office procedure or policy will also be included in this portion of the test, as will issues of ethics, legal implications and confidentiality laws. Finally, the Communications section of the CAP exam will offer questions that demonstrate the candidate’s knowledge of management theory in general.
- The Organization and Planning section of the CAP exam is responsible for 16% of the total score. Here, a candidate will find questions pertaining to how efficient time management plans can best be designed, achieved and maintained, as well as the gathering, compiling and organizing of office information and specific types of data. Candidates must demonstrate familiarity with how meetings, whether on- site or on- line, are organized and prepared for; this includes travel arrangements and scheduling. This area of the CAP test also looks at a candidate’s basic understanding of organizational management theory and concepts.
- The Records Management area composes 14% of the test and asks questions concerned with file management, retention, retrieval and transfer, as well as generally accepted rules and methods of filing. Candidates should also be prepared to answer questions regarding how record confidentiality is protected and security maintained. Questions will be asked about both manual and electronic management methods.
The Information Distribution section of the CAP exam is also worth 14% of the total score. This section deals with how information must be handled to ensure that it remains secure during distribution. Issues of ethics and legality are examined in these questions, and candidates will also answer multiple choice questions regarding research. Finally, questions about electronic as well as traditional modes of distribution will be addressed in this section.
- The Physical and Information Resources portion of the CAP exam composes 13% of the total test. These questions address office design; document conversion from one software system into another; data backup and features that are intended to maintain data security; materials and equipment purchase; and inventory. Candidates will also take a look at questions concerned with equipment installation, training, maintenance and use; and with troubleshooting computer hardware and software issues.
- In the Document Production section of the exam, which accounts for 13% of the total test score, candidates will answer questions about how documents are created, edited, proofread and finished. The creation of line charts, pie charts, graphs, time lines and other visual aids will also be addressed in this portion of the CAP exam. Candidates must demonstrate an understanding of how the minutes of meetings are record and prepared in document form as well.
- The Financial Functions section of the CAP test amounts to 8% of the overall test score. Here, questions assess a candidate’s broad understanding of how to prepare, read and analyze financial statements and other budgeting documents. Test takers will demonstrate knowledge of how cash and bank transactions are documented, and how bank statements, electronic transfers and other monetary actions are reconciled.
- The final section of the CAP examination accounts for 4% of the total test score. Human Resource questions address how employee records are maintained; how training manuals are designed and prepared; how project records and production records are kept; and the candidate’s general range of knowledge regarding legal Human Resources issues.
The International Association Of Administrative Professionals
With over 28,000 members and 600 chapters across the globe, the nonprofit International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) has enjoyed tremendous success and gained equally tremendous respect for its mission of establishing professional educational and networking opportunities to office administrators.
The IAAP has established five core values as central to its goals and mission; integrity, respect, adaptability, communication, and commitment. It sets forth certain expectations for both the members and the organization itself in regards to these values. IAAP and its members must demonstrate integrity by performing work that reflects the highest ethical standards; behaving with honesty and accountability are also a piece of this core value. Asking its members and affiliates to respectfully consider one another’s points of view and demonstrating this respect through listening and responding is yet another core value; again, not only are members expected to manifest this value, the organization, too, pledges to show the same respect to its members. Adaptability is demonstrated by the association’s willingness to seek and accept transformation for the good of the profession and of its members. Creativity, diversity and considering issues of importance from a range of perspectives also belong to the core value of adaptability.
The International Association of Administrative Professionals demonstrates its commitment to the core value of communication by promising to develop inviting and robust relationships with members and affiliates, and asks its members to extend this value to one another as well as to their clients. The fifth core value, commitment, is nurtured by the association’s determination to create focused and effective opportunities for administrators to transform and fine tune their professional skills.
Originally established in 1942 under the name of the National Secretaries Association, the IAAP’s name change in 1998 reflects the broad range of administrative business and government positions it currently serves. The National Secretaries Association was established during World War II as a direct response to government need for clerks, secretaries and other office personnel who could manage offices so that other employees could take factory work building weapons, tools and other goods. Many of the original founding members were listees in the Women’s Army Corp, Volunteer Emergency Service, or other U.S. military women’s branches.
The following year, the first issue of The National Secretary, the group’s professional magazine, appeared. The National Secretary continues today under the name of OfficePro. Within a few years of establishment, the National Secretaries Association had blossomed with a number of chapters throughout the country; it was determined by 1944 that these chapters needed to be under the auspices of a centrally controlled group, and in the spring of 1944 the first national meeting was held in Omaha. The organizational structure established then worked well, and has evolved into the current IAAP structure.
By 1946, the association included 115 chapters representing 200 members. At the national convention that year it was decided that each chapter would be given equal voting rights in the association as a whole, and that each chapter would be governed by officials who would be elected by chapter members.
August of 1951 saw the first certification examination. Fifteen exam centers served 281 applicants for the Certified Professional Secretary exam at that time.
In 1989, the association became global, amending its bylaws so that members belonging to international chapters could receive the benefits of full membership, which until this time had been limited to members in the U.S, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Canada.
National Secretaries Week, established in 1953, has continued as an annual celebration without a break. In 2000 the five day celebration was renamed Administrative Professionals Week to reflect the comprehensive range of talents its members bring to the worlds of commerce, education and government.
The Options Office Skills Training Program And Options Technology Program
The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) offers administrative professionals two methods for earning a substantial number of recertification points in an organized manner. The first is the Options Office Skills Training Program; the second is called the Options Technology Training Program.
The Options Office Skills Training Program is group of self study components that address four different levels of ability. The program is designed for optimum flexibility; it can be used in a group setting, or by an individual who prefers to work at an independent pace. Upon completion of each module, administrative professionals can submit their results to IAAP in order to earn points that can be applied to the number needed for recertification. In all, 12 modules are offered; completing the entire set garners 24 points. Administrative professionals who have used the system report it increased their business writing competency; fine tuned communication skills and problem solving; increased confidence, and trained them in a number of new methods and approaches that they would otherwise have had to enroll in a college course to achieve.
The four levels found in the Options Office Skills Training Program are Skill Level I: Introductory; Skill Level II: Intermediate; Skill Level III: Advanced; and Skill Level IV: Specialist. At each level, two to three modules are presented in the same five areas across the levels.
The program is designed so that each module, whether it contains two or three segments, can be completed within a month. The first module is concerned with career development and is divided into two segments. The second module is called Personal Development/ Organizational Development; this, too, contains two distinct units. At Skill Levels I and II, the focus remains on Personal Development. Skill Levels III and IV introduce one section of Organizational Development to the module. Next, the third module offers a more complex principle of organization. At Skill Levels I and III, the focus is on Self Management and Office Management. Skill Levels II and IV, however, shift that focus to Team Skills and Informational Management. The third module, like the previous two, is broken into two segments which can be completed within a month. The fourth module, simple called People Skills, contains three sections instead of two; however, the time required to complete this module is the same. Finally, the fifth module addresses Task Skills at all four Skill Levels. It, too, is composed of three segments.
The Options Technology Training Program is similar to the Options Office Skills Training Program in that it also offers administrative professionals who complete the course up to 18 recertification points as a reflection of their continuing education and commitment to keeping up with advances in technology. As with the Options Technical Skills Training Program, participants receive study guide materials, CDs and practice material. In order to determine how effective the program is participants are urged to take assessments both before and after undergoing training. This program can be completed at the participant’s own pace; no time limit is imposed.
This training program equips participants to earn Microsoft Office certification, as well. Instruction in Microsoft Word, Outlook, Excel and Access is available for either 2007 or 2010 configurations at a basic, intermediate or advanced level. Completing this set garners 18 recertification points at each level.
Another group includes Windows PowerPoint, Project, Vista and Windows 7, offered at either a basic or advanced level. This set earns 12 recertification points upon completion.