Frequently Asked Questions about ISSP Professional Certification
Pricing and Membership Requirements
- Q: How much do the credential exams cost? Is the ISSP-CSP fee in addition to the ISSP-SA fee, or does the ISSP-SA fee cover the ISSP-CSP?
- A: The registration fees for the ISSP-SA and ISSP-CSP exams are separate (see Exam Fees for more information and Our Partners for a current list of Partner organizations):
- The fee for the ISSP-SA is $175 for ISSP Members; $250 for ISSP Partners; and $350 for all others.
- The total fee for the ISSP-CSP is $250 for ISSP Members; $350 for ISSP Partners; and $450 for all others. The ISSP-CSP fee includes a nonrefundable application fee, broken down as follows:
ISSP-CSP Application Fee Exam Fee Total ISSP Members $75 $175 $250 ISSP Partners $100 $250 $350 Nonmembers $150 $300 $450
You MUST pass the ISSP-SA before registering for the ISSP-CSP. Please review the Apply for Exam page of the website and the Candidate Handbook carefully for the details, and join ISSP to take advantage of member pricing!
- Q: My institution or organization is an AASHE partner or does similar work, but is not technically an institutional member of AASHE. Can I get a discount?
- A: Only the students, faculty, and staff of AASHE member institutions - that is, colleges and universities - are eligible for the special AASHE pricing. These candidates will need to register for the exams using an email that has a domain associated with an AASHE institution (for example, @western.edu or @mcad.edu). A full directory of eligible member institutions can be found on AASHE's website here.
ISSP Exam Center
Q: I’m trying to register for the ISSP-SA exam, but I do not see any link to do so on the ISSP website. Where can I register for the exam?
Q: Why aren't my ISSP Member login username and password working in the Exam Center?
- A: Since the Webassessor platform is a different system from the ISSP website, your ISSP user ID/password will NOT work there. You need to create a separate Kryterion user account in order to register for the ISSP exams. This can be done using the "Create New Account" link at the top of the Exam Center homepage.
Q: I'm awaiting a receipt or notification from ISSP and haven't received it, or haven't heard from ISSP in a long time. What's going on?
A: Please check your spam folders for any notifications or receipts from ISSP or the Exam Center, if they aren't coming into your inbox. Additionally, make sure to add firstname.lastname@example.org to your list of trusted email contacts to ensure that important notifications regarding your participation in the certification process don't get missed!
Exam Schedule and Registration
- Q: How are exam dates scheduled? Are exams available on a rolling basis or only during certain periods?
- A: Both the ISSP-SA and ISSP-CSP exams are offered on a year-round, rolling basis. You schedule your own exam in the exam center here,
- Q: Can ISSP exams be scheduled online or at testing sites?
- A: The exams are available both online and at testing centers around the globe. Because ISSP Certification is being developed in compliance with ISO standards, all exams, including those taken online, will be proctored. See our answer on how to prepare for online proctoring below for more information. The online proctored exams are available 24/7, so it doesn't matter what time zone a candidate is in. Schedules at place-based testing centers vary.
- Q: Is there a testing center in my area?
- A: Our Exam Center host, Kryterion, offers access to high-quality testing facilities at hundreds of locations across the globe. You can view all Kryterion testing center locations - and check to see if there's one near you - here.
Rescheduling or Canceling an Exam
Q: Can I reschedule or cancel an exam after I've registered for it?
- A: Test takers can reschedule or cancel an exam on their own by logging into the Exam Center, clicking the Home tab in the blue bar, and scrolling down to manage their scheduled exams. Please do not email ISSP asking for us to reschedule or cancel your exam, unless you require support or assistance in doing so. Candidates can reschedule an exam at no charge or cancel an exam for a full refund, as long as they do so within 72 hours of an onsite exam or 24 hours within an online exam. Within 72/24 hours, a fee will apply to reschedule or cancel.
ISSP-SA vs ISSP-CSP
Difference between the ISSP-SA and the ISSP-CSP
- Q: What is the difference between the ISSP-SA and the ISSP-CSP?
- A: The ISSP-SA is for people just getting into the sustainability field or working in allied fields such as purchasing, marketing, human resources, and facilities management, while the ISSP-CSP is for people who have been working in the sustainability field for a while. See the Eligibility Criteria page for the details and read the Candidate Handbook for the details of the differences in the application process.
- Q: How is the ISSP-SA exam different from the ISSP-CSP exam?
- A: The ISSP-SA exam covers the material in Domain 1: Core Sustainability Concepts of the Job Task Analysis (JTA). The ISSP-CSP exam covers the material in Domains 2-6. See the Exam Content Outline section of the Candidate Handbook for more details. You must pass the ISSP-SA exam before you can apply for the ISSP-CSP.
Taking the ISSP-SA before the ISSP-CSP
- Q: I want to apply for the ISSP-CSP. Do I need to apply for the ISSP-SA first?
- A: Yes, you must pass the ISSP-SA exam before being eligible to apply for the ISSP-CSP. The Job Task Analysis (JTA) on which the ISSP credentials are based include six (6) domains of knowledge. The ISSP-SA test covers the first domain in the JTA - basic sustainability concepts and tools - while the ISSP-CSP exam covers the other five domains of the JTA. Please see the Candidate Handbook for more details.
- Q: I am not sure if I have enough education or work experience for the ISSP-CSP. How can I tell?
- A: Please review the Eligibility Criteria. If you are not sure if you have sufficient years of experience for the ISSP-CSP, please review the 2013 ISSP Body of Knowledge Report and the Job Task Analysis (JTA). The JTA outline the specific activities in which sustainability professionals have experience. We do not review material except as part of the application process, nor can we offer judgement as to a candidate's eligibility outside of the application process.
Sustainability degrees and job titles
- Q: I don't have a sustainability job title or a sustainability degree, can I still apply?
- A1: ISSP- SA - The ISSP-SA exam covers the material outlined in the first category of the Job Task Analysis. The ISSP-SA exam does not have a requirement for any specific work experience or educational degrees.
- A2: ISSP-CSP - The ISSP-CSP requires 5 years of sustainability-related work experience and at least as BS/BA equivalent degree in any field. It's not the job titles that count, it's the actual professional experience, which can include volunteer activities. In addition, we realize many individuals doing excellent sustainability work received their degree before sustainability-related degrees were available, so it's not the label of the degree that counts either. If you have less than 5 years experience, you can offset up to 2 of those years with sustainability-related training and education, but will need to provide transcripts showing 30 credit hours of sustainability-related courses for each year of experience being offset.
ISSP-CSP Application Process
Q: How far in advance of an exam do people need to apply to determine eligibility?
A: Reviewing an application for the ISSP-CSP can take up to 4 weeks. You will not be able to register for the ISSP-CSP exam until your ISSP-CSP application has been approved.
Q: Can you look at my ISSP-CSP application and tell me if you think I am eligible?
A: Unfortunately we cannot 'pre-review' applications. The eligibility requirements are described in the Candidate Handbook and it is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that the eligibility criteria have been met before the application is submitted and that the application itself is complete. A candidate’s application will NOT be considered or kept on file if the candidate has not paid the application fee and followed the directions in the Candidate Handbook and on the ISSP-CSP Application page.
- Q: What is required of the references for the ISSP-CSP exam? Is a letter needed from each reference? Do I collect the information or do my references submit them to ISSP directly?
- A: There is a Professional Reference Form that applicants can fill out to list their references. Applicants fill out the top part of the form and send it to three references, who complete the bottom part and send it back to the applicant to include with the application. Seperate letters are not required, but references can choose to attach them to the completed form in lieu of filling out the form's second page. Refer to the Candidate Handbook for more information.
- Q: Why do my professional reference forms need to be signed and include contact information?
- A: The signed professional reference is an important way of maintaining the credibility of the ISSP Certified Sustainability Professional (ISSP-CSP) certification. Since the ISSP-CSP is for candidates with 5+ years of experience and the field of sustainability is constantly changing, it is assumed that candidates will have recent experience and be in contact with the person providing the reference. In addition, today's technology makes it very easy to find people, so contact information with a signature is a minimum requirement to ensure that the referee is aware of and agrees to provide the reference. Note that this is different from a "testimonial" from a client, which is essentially a "referral", not a reference.
Preparing for the Exam
About the exam
- Q: How long are the ISSP credential exams? How are they formatted?
- A: The ISSP-SA exam requires successful completion of 75-item random multiple choice questions and must be completed within 2 hours. The ISSP-CSP exam requires successful completion of 100-item random multiple choice questions and must be completed within 2.5 hours. Learn more about the exams here.
Studying for the exam
- Q: Are there materials I should study to prepare for the exam?
- A: ISSP offers a comprehensive Study Guide and Flash Cards for the ISSP-SA exam, and a Study Guide for the ISSP-CSP exam. These are the best tools a candidate can use to prepare for each credential exam. You can learn more about these study materials here.
In addition, we've published two documents that act as a starting point for exam candidates:
- The Exam Content Outline. This is found in the Candidate Handbook and summarizes the knowledge and skills included in each of the exams along with suggested resources for learning about them.
- The ISSP Glossary of Sustainability Terms. The SA exam in particular requires a grasp of the common terminology used in the field.
Q: Are there approved education providers who provide training to take the exam?
A: Yes! Our directory of ISSP Education Partners lists those institutions who fulfill ISSP's high standards for sustainability education and training offerings. Several Education Partners provide test prep courses for the ISSP-SA exam. Interested candidates should visit our partners' websites and contact them directly.
Q: Will any of the content I've studied in ISSP Courses or Webinars also be tested on the certification exams?
A: The best guide for the content of the credential exams comes from available study materials, especially study guides. However, our sustainability Job Task Analysis is another great source of information on exam content - if what you've studied in an ISSP educational offering is mentioned in the JTA, it's an essential part of the sustainability knowledge, skills, and abilities tested by the ISSP Certification exams.
- Q: I've decided to take an exam from my home or workplace using online proctoring. How do I make sure the proctoring software works properly on my computer and what else do I need to do in order to prepare?
- A: Kryterion, which hosts our online Exam Center, distributes a Test Taker Guide which includes detailed technical requirements for online proctoring and step-by-step instructions for how to prepare. Candidates should review this guide at least 24 hours before their scheduled online exam in order to ensure they are fully prepared - ISSP is not responsible for last-minute technical problems. A microphone and an external webcam are REQUIRED for candidates who choose to take an online proctored exam. All ISSP exams, including those taken online, are proctored real-time.
Exam Scoring and Results
- Q: Can you tell me the numerical score I got on the exam?
- A: No, we only tell candidates if they passed the exam, not the score received. The ISSP Certification exams are ‘criteria-based’ exams and are scored in terms of whether a candidate meets the minimum competency required to be a sustainability professional. The exams are not ‘norm-referenced’ exam and are not intended to be used to ‘rank’ candidates, so providing candidates with a percentage score would give the impression that a candidate that scored higher was more qualified than a candidate who scored lower. As a result, we are not able to provide any information about the score achieved by any particular candidate. See this link for another organization's explanation of the difference between criteria-referenced and norm-referenced testing.
- Q: How long does it take to get my exam results?
A: You will receive a notification as to whether you passed or failed the exam immediately after submitting your answers. Your exam results are confidential. We will not give results over the phone. We do not give information about certification exam results to third parties, although those candidates who successfully pass the exam will be listed on the ISSP website.
Q: Can tests be retaken if the first attempt is not successful?
A: If you fail an exam, you must wait 3 months before registering to retake the exam. Candidates must register and pay for an exam each time they take it. If a candidate is retaking the ISSP-CSP exam more than a year after they first applied, they must re-apply with updated documentation.
- Q: I've earned my ISSP credential. What designation do I list on LinkedIn, resumes, email signatures, etc.?
A: As noted on page 10 of the Candidate Handbook, ISSP credential holders must display their credentials as either:
The reason we require this level of specificity is that there are many organizations currently offering certificates (not true credentials) related to sustainability. If a credential holder does not think the ISSP-SA or ISSP-CSP acronyms are sufficiently clear as a designation, we suggest they spell out their credentials ("ISSP Sustainability Associate" or "ISSP Certified Sustainability Professional").
Q: Is there a fee for renewing my credential after the two years during which it is valid?
A: In addition to the Continuing Education Unit (CEU) requirements, there is an ISSP-SA renewal fee of $75 for ISSP Members and $150 for nonmembers; and a ISSP-CSP renewal fee of $100 for ISSP Members and $200 for nonmembers. For more information about the renewal process, please refer to the Credential Maintenance Guidebook.
More FAQs relating to Credential Maintenance can be found here.
Professional Certification/Credential versus Certificate Training Courses
- Q: What is the difference between Certification and a Certificate?
- A: This is an excellent question as these terms are often confused and used incorrectly. Certification is the process of conferring a professional credential and generally includes an experience and education component and requires passing an exam and ongoing professional development to ensure continued competency. A certificate is the term used to indicate attendance or completion of a course or series of courses with a specific focus.
- Q: How is the ISSP Sustainability Professional Certification (a professional credential) different from Sustainability Certificate Training programs?
- A: There are many institutions that provide Sustainability Certificate Training Programs that involve completing a course or series of courses. Some of these are higher education organizations like some of ISSP's Education Partners. These certificate programs provide students with a solid foundation of sustainability and are a great starting point for anyone looking to get into the sustainability field. The ISSP Sustainability Professional Certification is a professional credential that validates that an individual not only has received a specific amount of sustainability education but can pass a standard test on core competencies and, in the case of the ISSP-CSP level, that the individual has a certain number of years of experience. An analogy is that one can get an engineering degree from a college but then has to pass a test to be able to add the PE (Professional Engineer) designation after their name. Any Sustainability Certificate program that is aligned with the Body of Knowledge on which the Sustainability Professional Certification is based, should prepare you for the exam component of Professional Certification although, as with a PE exam, additional studying may be necessary.
- Q: I took the full ISSP Sustainability Certificate Training program that ISSP used to offer. Does that count towards the education requirement for the ISSP-CSP Professional Certification?
- A: Yes, if you completed the entire ISSP Certificate Training program, it fulfills one year (30 credit hours) of educational training as described in the Eligibility information for the ISSP-CSP certification.