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Certification

General Information
  • Office address
  • Office hours
  • Forms
  • SEP roster
  • Updating contact info

Certification Process Timing
  • Application process
  • Review process
  • Certification period
  • Renewal period

Applications
  • Forms
  • Fees
  • Timing

Business Practices
  • INCOSE membership
  • CAB benefits
  • License
  • Business-wide certification

Educational Background
  • Technical degrees
  • Graduate degrees

Continuing Education & Renewals
  • Why PDUs
  • Approved courses
  • Documenting PDUs
  • PDU carry-over
  • Renewal audits
  • Late renewals

Knowledge Exam
  • Pre-requisites
  • Exam scheduling
  • Exam locations
  • On-line exams
  • Exam source material
  • Exam creation process
  • Practice exams
  • Exam scores
  • Exam fees
  • Exam format
  • Exam language
  • Special accommodations
  • Exam rescheduling

References
  • Forms
  • Qualifications
  • Experience coverage

Equivalency Programs
  • Overall policy
  • German equivalency
  • Others in work

Training Courses
  • Finding a training provider
  • Resources for training providers

Appeals & Complaints
  • Appealing a certification denial
  • Complaints against SEPs

 

General Information


Q.
What is the address for the Certification Program?
A.
The address for the Certification Program is:
INCOSE Certification Program Office
7670 Opportunity Rd #220
San Diego, CA 92111


Q.
What are the office hours for the Certification Program?
A.
Office hours are 9 am to 5 pm (Pacific Time) on Mondays thru Fridays. The office is closed on major US holidays.


Q.
Where can I get certification forms?
A.
Application forms may be downloaded from our website or may be requested by mail from our Program Office at the following address:
INCOSE Certification Program Office
7670 Opportunity Rd #220
San Diego, CA 92111


Q.
Is there a roster of Certified Systems Engineering Professionals available for distribution?
A.
INCOSE maintains a list of the names, geographic areas (city, state, and country), and certification time periods of those recognized as Expert System Engineering Professionals, Certified System Engineering Professionals, and Associate System Engineering Professionals. That list is posted monthly on the main Certification page.


Q.
How do I change my address of record?
A.
Each registrant is responsible for informing the INCOSE within thirty days of a change in his/her address. INCOSE members can update their information at any time via INCOSE Connect. Changes may also be e-mailed to the INCOSE Central Office or submitted in writing to the INCOSE Certification Program Office, 7670 Opportunity Rd #220 San Diego, CA 92111. It is incumbent for all Systems Engineering Professionals and applicants to maintain a current address with the INCOSE in order to receive renewal notices and other information. A new address on letterhead or envelope is not construed as a request to change an address.

Certification Process Timing


Q.
How long do I have to complete my certification process?
A.
You have one year from the time your application is received initially in the INCOSE Certification Office to complete your certification. The one-year period includes the time used by the applicant to submit additional information not contained in the initial submittal, by references to submit their inputs, by the INCOSE review committee (usually less than one month), and by the applicant to schedule and take (and retake if necessary) the exam. If the process is not completed within the one-year time period, the applicant will have to restart the process from the beginning, including paying another application fee.


Q.
How long does the review process take?
A.
Our review and processing typically takes four to six weeks. The review starts once all of an applicant’s materials, including references and proof of degree, are received.


Q.
For how long is a certification valid?
A.
A Systems Engineering Professional Certification is valid for a period of three years for CSEP and five years for ASEP. The date of the renewal period starts on the same month and day of the week as the original certification. The ESEP is valid indefinitely, but INCOSE individual, senior, or student membership must be maintained.


Q.
For how long is a renewal valid?
A.
Renewed certifications are valid for the same number of years as their original certifications. So, a renewed CSEP certification is valid for three years and a renewed ASEP application is valid for 5 years. The date of the renewal period starts on the same month and day of the week as the original certification.

Applications


Q.
How do I obtain an application for certification?
A.
The preferred method is to download the application form from our website, here: http://www.incose.org/certification/certforms If you cannot download the form, please call or email our office using the contact info on this website.


Q.
What happens if I submit the application without the required fee?
A.
Your application will not be processed without the correct fee. You will be notified if the funds submitted are insufficient.


Q.
Once I submit my application, how long will it be before I receive notice of the Certification Office's decision?
A.
It is not possible to give one answer that fits all situations on how long it will take after you submit an application for you to be notified if your certification is approved. All applications are reviewed by the staff and the Certification Office on an on-going basis. You will be notified within two weeks by the staff of receipt of your application and will be advised if any material is missing. After the staff determines that an application is complete, the Certification Office will complete its assessment of the applicant's education and experience typically within five weeks and, if the education and experience are satisfactory, will notify the applicant to schedule the certification exam. If the education and experience are not satisfactory, the Certification Office will advise the applicant of the certification status and may advise of possible corrective actions to continue the certification process. The exam results will be available to the applicant almost immediately after he/she completes the exam. The Certification Office will provide the successful applicant with a formal certification recognition package (certificate and card) within three weeks of the applicant taking the certification test. INCOSE does not control the time that an applicant takes to provide any information missing in the application or to schedule and take the certification exam.



Q.
If I apply for CSEP or ESEP and am not approved, do I have to re-apply to get certified at a lower level?
A.
If you are denied at the CSEP or ESEP level, you will be given the opportunity to apply at the lower level without having to pay a new application fee. There will be a limited time for that opportunity, which will be listed for you in your denial message. If you are already certified at the lower level, your application fee at the higher level may be used to pay for your next renewal at that lower level.

Business Practices


Q.
Do I have to be a member of INCOSE to be certified?
A.
Yes, you do need to be an individual, senior, or student INCOSE member to apply for certification as an ASEP, CSEP, or ESEP, and you need to maintain your INCOSE membership for the duration of your certification. CSEPs who applied or were certified in 2015 or earlier do not need to be INCOSE members to maintain their certification.


Q.
How is CAB membership useful with respect to Certification?
A.
Organizations that have joined INCOSE’s Corporate Advisory Board, can pass along some INCOSE membership benefits to their employees. Two of these benefits affect the Certification process: free access to the electronic version of the INCOSE SE Handbook and reduced renewal fees for INCOSE Certified Systems Engineering Professionals.


Q.
Does INCOSE certification as a Systems Engineering Professional authorize me to practice systems engineering in my city/state/province/country?
A.
INCOSE Certification as a Systems Engineering Professional does not authorize an individual to practice systems engineering. Certification is a confirmation that an individual has demonstrated the requisite knowledge, education, and experience associated with the certification. Only legally empowered government organizations, through licenses, authorize individuals to practice a skill or profession.


Q.
Can I obtain an INCOSE Systems Engineering Professional Certification for my business?
A.
INCOSE Systems Engineering Professional Certification recognizes the systems engineering capabilities of an individual only. It is not granted to a business.

Educational Background


Q.
What constitutes an acceptable technical Bachelor's degree?
A.
Qualifying Bachelor’s degrees include BS or BSE (or international equivalents through such mechanisms as the Washington Accord or the Bologna Agreement) in the following or related engineering disciplines: aeronautics, astronautics, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, environmental, industrial, mechanical, nuclear, software, systems. Other acceptable fields of study include: chemistry, computer science, mathematics, chemistry, physics. If the Bachelor’s degree does not come from the above fields, then a Masters or Doctorate degree (or international equivalent) in those fields is acceptable. The acceptability of other degrees outside this guideline is subject to the decision of the Certification Program Office. To expedite the review in cases where they may be any doubt about the acceptability of the degree, applicants should submit with their application a copy of their transcript showing the courses taken to obtain the degree. Degrees such as Information Technology and Systems Management may be accepted if they include coursework similar to the calculus and physics classes typically included in engineering programs of study.
   
The following link gives information about the ABET criteria for accrediting engineering programs. Although INCOSE does not require ABET accreditation to qualify a degree, we do follow a similar approach: http://www.abet.org/accreditation/accreditation-criteria/criteria-for-accrediting-engineering-programs-2015-2016/


Q.
How do graduate degrees help individuals qualify for certification?
A.
Graduate degrees are an excellent way to increase one’s knowledge about systems engineering.  For both CSEP and ESEP candidates who do not have a technical undergraduate degree, a technical graduate degree may help minimize the years of experience they are required to document on their application and with references.  For ESEP candidates, a graduate degree may also be a piece of the leadership requirement.

Continuing Education & Renewals


Q.
Why do I need to track Professional Development Units?
A.
The requirement for continuing professional development is intended to reinforce the need for lifelong learning in order to stay current with changing technology, equipment, procedures, processes, and established standards. You will need to present a record (log) of your time spent in such activities, with Professional Development Units assigned as described here.


Q.
What courses and activities qualify for PDU credit?
A.
The Certification Office does not pre-approve particular courses or activities. A course or activity does not have to be presented by an “approved” sponsor/provider for you to claim credit for the course or activity. It is your responsibility to determine if the course or activity meets your continuing education needs and to maintain documentation adequate to support your decision to claim credit for the particular course or activity.


Q.
What do I submit with my renewal application to prove that I have attained the required Professional development Units (PDUs)?
A.
When you submit your renewal application with your log of continuing education, you sign a statement that you have completed the courses/activities on the log and that they satisfy the continuing education requirements. You do not have to submit any additional formal proof with the application. However, you may be randomly selected by the Certification Program Office, as part of its quality check, to submit detailed descriptions and/or completion certificates of your continuing education courses and activities.


Q.
May I carry over excess PDU credits into the next renewal cycle?
A.
You may carry over up to 30 PDUs to the next renewal period.


Q.
What kind of record should I keep of my continuing education?
A.
You should maintain a summary log to list your Professional Development Unit (PDU) courses and activities. The log should contain a sufficient name and/or description that identifies that the course or activity relates to systems engineering. Include the name of the presenter, the name of the sponsoring organization, and the location of where the instruction, class, or activity was held. For classes that are part of a college curriculum, list the class number. All records of attendance and completion of PDU credits should be maintained for four years for audit purposes. Records for any "carried forward" PDUs should be retained for four years beyond the subsequent certification renewal


Q.
What can I do if I fail to renew in time?
A.
Late renewal options are available for certifications that have expired within the previous twelve months.  Details are posted here.

Knowledge Exam


Q.
What are the qualifications to be approved to take the Certification examination?
A.
The qualifications for being approved to take the certification examination are that the applicant has submitted a complete application and application fee. After screening your application, the Certification Office will advise you on how to schedule the exam. The intent is to save you the exam fee if your application is administratively incomplete. This screening is not a review of the content of your application, just a check that it is ready to be sent to technical review.


Q.
How may I find out when the next examination is scheduled?
A.
When the certification staff notifies you that you are approved to take the certification examination, the staff will send you information on how to contact Prometric (the Test Organization) to determine when you may schedule the examination.


Q.
Where are the examinations given?
A.
The certification examinations are given at the Prometric (the Test Organization) facilities. Prometric currently has over 6000 sites in approximately 100 countries around the world. When the certification staff notifies you that you are approved to take the certification examination, it will send you information on how to contact Prometric to determine the best location for you to schedule and take the examination. Prometric authorizes additional testing centers to offer exams as their business justification arises. To see if a testing center near you has already been authorized to administer the CSEP INCOSE certification exam, visit: http://www.prometric.com/INCOSE.


Q.
May I take the examination on-line?
A.
The certification examination is not available on-line. It must be taken at a Prometric's (the Test Organization) facility. This examination is proctored to control the length of time allotted to take the examination, to confirm the identity of the individual taking the examination, and to eliminate the use of outside help.


Q.
What reference documents were used to create the examination questions?
A.
The INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook is the reference document that was used to create the questions in the certification examination. Review details on which version of the handbook is in use here.



Q.
How can I get a copy of the reference documents used for the examination questions?
A.
Copies of the current version of the Systems Engineering Handbook may be obtained from INCOSE. A soft copy may be downloaded free by INCOSE members at www.incose.org . Printed copies may be pre-ordered directly at Wiley.


Q.
How are examinations prepared?
A.
The Certification Advisory Group prepares new questions which are “beta tested” as part of ongoing examinations. Prometric (the Test Organization) evaluates the quality of the new questions based on the answers in the “beta tests.” Successful new questions are used to supplement or replace existing questions in the examination.


Q.
What kind of study guides or practice exams are available for the examination?
A.
INCOSE’s Certification Program has not created any “study guides” for the knowledge examination. We recommend study of the current version of the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook which is the reference document for the certification examination.  Study guides and training may be produced by external parties without oversight, review, or endorsement from the Certification Program.  It is expected that a small set of practice questions from previous versions of the SE Handbook will be released by the Certification Program in early Summer 2015.


Q.
When may I expect to receive my exam score?
A.
Prometric (the Test Organization) can tell you if you have passed the examination within minutes after you complete the examination since it is computer scored. The INCOSE Certification Program Office will follow up with notice of your certification if you passed the examination, or directions on continuing the process if you did not pass, within three weeks of taking the examination.


Q.
What is the minimum passing score for the certification exam?
A.
The passing score for the exam is based on the results of a series of tests that have been performed on the exam itself and is based on the results of over 60 individuals from varying levels of systems engineering experience. The passing score reflects the minimum level of knowledge expected from a satisfactorily practicing systems engineer with at least five years of industrial experience after receiving a four-year bachelor’s degree in a technical field from an accredited institution of higher education. The approach used to establish a passing score is similar to the approach used by State Governments that issue Professional Engineering licenses, and likewise a specific passing score is not published. When you take the certification exam, you will be advised immediately after you complete the computer based exam that you have passed or failed the exam. You will not be given a numerical score. For your guidance, you need to exhibit a level of knowledge similar to what is expected to pass and obtain credit when taking an academic course at a college or university.


Q.
Why do I need to pay a separate fee to take an examination?
A.
You pay a separate fee to take the certification examination in order to keep the total cost of the certification process down by not having INCOSE serve as an agent in forwarding funds to the Test Organization. Paying the test fee directly to the Test Organization is also a more efficient process if you have to retake the examination.


Q.
Do I need to pay an additional fee to retake the examination?
A.
Yes, you do have to pay a separate test fee to the Test Organization each time you schedule the certification examination.


Q.
How long is the examination?
A.
A two-hour time period is allowed for answering the questions on the certification examination, which nominally contains 120 questions.


Q.
What kind of questions are on the examination?
A.
The certification examination questions are currently multiple-choice questions. All correct answers must be selected from the possible answers given to receive credit for answering a question. A typical question may have five possible answers listed of which three are correct. Partial credit is not given for a question.


Q.
Am I permitted to bring material to use during an examination?
A.
The certification examinations are closed book. The applicant is not allowed to bring any types of reference materials, writing tablets, notes, etc. All devices that might compromise the security of the examination process are forbidden. Computers, cell phones, pagers, and other electronic equipment are not permitted in the test room. The test organization will provide any material/equipment needed to take the examination.


Q.
In what languages are the test offered?
A.
The test is only offered in the English language.


Q.
What accommodations in taking the test can be made for those with whose native language is not English?
A.
For applicants with English as a Second Language (ESL), provisions can be given for additional time to take the exam. Use the INCOSE certification Special Accommodations form to make this type of request. ESL extensions must be requested and justified by the applicant and are subject to the approval of the INCOSE Certification Office.


Q.
What accommodations in taking the test can be made for those with special needs?
A.
An applicant with special needs must make them known when applying with INCOSE. Use the INCOSE certification Special Accommodations form to make this type of request. Many test centers have a special cubicle at each site for accommodating those who require special equipment (such as pointing devices, keyboards, etc.) and/or personnel support (such as a reader or someone to enter the answers on the screen). The test must be taken at the test center to ensure the integrity and security of the test, to be able to verify the identity of the test taker, and to monitor the taking of the test. This approach is consistent with the approach of similar certification organizations. Requests must be justified by the applicant and are subject to the approval of the INCOSE Certification Office.


Q.
Can I reschedule the exam with the test center?
A.
Yes. The Test Organization will, however, charge a fee if you reschedule fewer than 30 days prior to your scheduled test date. If you reschedule fewer than 5 days prior to the test date, you will be charged the full exam fee.

References


Q.
May I submit a generic letter of recommendation instead of having my reference complete the INCOSE reference form?
A.
No.  The references must use standard INCOSE reference forms.


Q.
When selecting references, should I choose supervisors or co-workers?
A.
If possible, select one or more current or former supervisors as references because their inputs are given much greater credibility by the review committee than are inputs from your co-workers. Subordinates are never appropriate as references. References must provide their assessments in their own words, and they must describe their knowledge of Systems Engineering that qualifies them to serve as references.


Q.
Do each of the references that I select need to be able to confirm my experience for the full number of years that I need to qualify for certification?
A.
No. Each individual reference does not have to verify your experience for the entire minimum number of years of experience that you need to qualify for certification, BUT your collective set of references does need to be able to confirm your experience for the entire minimum number of years claimed by you on your application, including any additional years of experience required due to your educational status. If the collective inputs from your references do not cover the entire minimum number of years of experience needed to qualify for certification, the review committee may either turn down your application because you do not meet the minimum qualifications on verified experience or may ask you to identify and contact additional references for inputs to confirm your unverified years of experience. The latter will delay the processing of your application. For example, if your three references all confirm the same three years of your experience, you do not have the minimum number of years of verified experience. If the review committee does not turn down your application, it may request that you identify and contact at least one additional reference who can verify your experience for the additional unverified years that you have reported. Your references should provide their assessments in their own words and should avoid a "copy-paste" of any information that you may have provided them. Note that ESEP references collectively need to confirm at least 10 years of your claimed systems engineering experience.

Equivalency Programs


Q.
I have a Systems Engineering certification from another organization besides INCOSE.  May I be recognized as an INCOSE Systems Engineering Professional on the basis of that, without having to go through the entire INCOSE Certification process?
A.
The only equivalency currently recognized is to the Gesellschaft für Systems Engineering e.V. SE-ZERT Programm.


Q.
I hold SE-ZERT Level C.  What is the process for me to be recognized as an INCOSE Systems Engineering Professional?
A.
Individuals holding SE-ZERT Level C and Level B should work with GfSE to request INCOSE Certification.


Q.
What can I do to get my non-INCOSE certification recognized as equivalent by INCOSE’s Certification Program?
A.
Certification equivalency is evaluated by INCOSE’s Certification Advisory Group in response to a request initiated by the other certification’s sponsoring organization.

Training Courses


Q.
I would like help with the Certification process. How can I find a training provider?
A.
The Certification Program does not endorse or oversee any provider, including products of INCOSE chapters and working groups.  The Certification Program does maintain a list of known training providers that can be emailed to you.  To request this list, email the Certification Program Office.


Q.
I help others with the Certification process. How can I ensure I get the latest information about changes to the Certification Program?
A.
Updates about the Certification Program are posted on the less formal website: http://certificationblog.incose.org and in the INCOSE Certification groups on LinkedIn.  You are also welcome to email the Certification Program Manager with specific questions.

Appeals & Complaints


Q.
My application for certification was denied.  What can I do?
A.
Complete INCOSE Form 11 from the Certification Forms page, and submit it to the Certification Program Office.


Q.
I have a suggestion for improving the Certification Program.  Whom should I contact?
A.
The best way to provide feedback to the Certification Program is through an email to certification@incose.org.  Include the general or specific details of your suggestion.  If you would like to discuss the feedback in greater depth with the Certification Program Manager, include your phone number and several times of day when it would be good to contact you.


Q.
If a complaint is filed against me for being unethical, what are my options?
A.
All complaints about being unethical are reviewed by the Certification Office, and if necessary, an investigation is initiated. The person alleged to being unethical is encouraged to present his/her case in defense.


Q.
How do I report a Systems Engineering Professional that I know is practicing unethically?
A.
Contact the INCOSE Certification Program office to obtain guidance on filling a complaint of unethical practice by a certified systems engineering professional.
Investigation of complaints can sometimes be a lengthy process and may take many months to complete. The Board makes every effort to pursue the matter as soon as possible; however, some cases take longer than others due to the technical nature and circumstances of the complaint. All cases are initially reviewed by the Board to decide if additional information is needed. Then the person against whom the allegation is made is interviewed before a decision is made on any action. The commitment of the Board is that you, as the complainant, will be notified when the case is concluded and told the Board's recommendations and actions taken.


Q.
I have been working for 25 years but do not have a college Bachelor’s degree and have contact information for only my current supervisor of the past three years. Can I become certified?
A.
You can become certified if you meet the minimum requirements. In your case the minimum requirements without a Bachelor's college degree are at least 15 years of verified engineering experience of which at least five years must be in performing systems engineering. You must ensure that you have at least 12 months of experience in each of at least 3 of the SE functional areas. The verification of your experience must be by references who are ether current or former supervisors or peers who have at least as much knowledge and experience as you do in the field of practice. For the 10 additional years, the references need to be knowledgeable of the same type of experience you are claiming (not necessarily systems engineering experience).