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Certification Frequently Asked Questions
This FAQ answers the most common questions regarding the certification program. For additional information, please contact the Certification Office for assistance.
'' General Information
'' Applications
'' Business Practices
'' Education
'' Continuing Education
'' Examination
'' Complaints
 

 
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
 
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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.

 
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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
 
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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 (the list is available here). Certified System Engineering Professionals (the list is available here), and Associate System Engineering Professionals (the lis is available here). No personal information will be published with the list of names INCOSE will not provide any others lists or additional information on its SEPs.

 
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Q.   Can you refer me to a Certified Systems Engineering Professional in a geographical area?
A.  

No. INCOSE certifies the basic systems engineering education and experience of individuals but does not refer business to any individual.

 
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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. Address changes require the registrant's full name, certification number, old address, new address, e-mail address, date of birth, and an office telephone number. The changes may 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 Certified Systems Engineering Professionals 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. INCOSE members can update their information at any time via INCOSE Connect.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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Q.   How often do I have to renew my certification?
A.  

Certification needs to be renewed every three years for CSEP and every five years for ASEP. The ESEP does not require renewal, but INCOSE individual, senior, or student membership must be maintained. Extensions (such as CSEP-Acq) are renewed at the same time as the core CSEP renewal, regardless of when the extension was earned. The application for renewal must be dated (electronic or post marked) before the current certification reaches its expiration date or the entire certification process will have to be repeated.

 
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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.

 
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Applications
 
Q.   How do I obtain an application for certification?
A.  

To obtain an application form you may

  • Call our office at (858) 541-1725 or (800) 366-1164,
  • Write to INCOSE Certification Program Office, 7670 Opportunity Rd #220 San Diego, CA 92111 ( USA ), Download an application form directly from our web site Or email us at secertification@incose.org
  • Download an application form directly from our web site
  • Or e-mail us at certification@incose.org
 
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Q.  

Can you fax me an application form?

A.  

We do not usually fax copies because they tend to lose quality. We will either mail you an application form or you can download one from our web site.

 
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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.

 
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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 refrences collectively need to confirm at least 10 years of your claimed systems engineering experience.

 
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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.

 
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Q.  

I have been working for 25 years but do not have a college Bachleor'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 funcitional 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).

 
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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.

 
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Business Practices
 
Q.  

Is Certification for me?

A.  

Yes, if you are interested in being recognized formally for your systems engineering capabilities.

 
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Q.   Do I have to be a member of INCOSE to be certified?
A.  

You do need to be an individual, senior, or student INCOSE member to be an ASEP or an ESEP, and you need to maintain your INCOSE membership for the duration of your time as an ASEP (maximum of 15 years) or an ESEP (indefinite). You do not have to be a member of INCOSE to be certified as a CSEP. CSEP Certification is open to anyone who can meet the criteria established by INCOSE. However, INCOSE members in good standing are entitled to a reduced rate to participate in the Certification Program, both initially and on a continuing basis.

 
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Q.  

Who is certification designed to benefit? How?

A.  

The short answer on who will benefit from certification is: the individual pursuing certification, potential employers of that individual, INCOSE, and the profession of Systems Engineering. The individual and potential employers benefit because certification provides an indicator of the individual's systems engineering capability as measured against a particular standard. INCOSE and systems engineering benefit by establishing a standard for measuring systems engineering capability.

 
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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.

 
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Q.  

Can I obtain an INCOSE Systems Engineering Professional Certification for my business?

A.  

I INCOSE Systems Engineering Professional Certification recognizes the systems engineering capabilities of an individual only. It is not granted to a business.

 
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Education
 
Q.  

What constitutes an acceptable technical Bachelor's degree?

A.  

Acceptable engineering fields of study include: aeronautics, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, environmental, mechanical, nuclear, software, systems. Acceptable other fields of study include: chemistry, computer science, mathematics, 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.

 
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Continuing Education
 
Q.   How do I earn PDUs?
A.  

You earn PDUs by completing any courses or activities whose purposes/objectives are to help you maintain, improve, or expand your skills and knowledge relevant to your area of expertise.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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Q.   May I still renew if I don?t have the required PDUs for the renewal period? I have enrolled in a course that starts next month.
A.  

You may not renew until the PDU requirements are satisfied. Enrollment in a course does not ensure the Certification Office that you will complete it satisfactorily. After completion, you can renew as long as it is within your three-year window.

 
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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.

 
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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

 
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Examination
 
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 satisfied the degree and experience requirements and has submitted the application fee. After reviewing your application, the Certification Office will advise you on how to schedule the exam if you have met the education and experience requirements. The intent is to save you the $80 exam fee if your experience or references indicate you are not yet ready to qualify for certification. However, INCOSE now offers an "exam first" option as described on the application form and instructions.

 
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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.

 
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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 international testing centers to offer exams as local applicants are identified. 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. To request that a new testing site be activated, please contact the Certification Office.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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Q.   What kind of study guides are available for the examination?
A.   Currently, there are no “study guides” for the certification examination. We recommend study of the current version of the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook which is the reference document for the certification examination.
 
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Q.   What reference documents were used to create the examination questions?
A.  

The current version of the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook is the reference document that was used to create the questions in the certification examination.

 
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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 obtained for a fee of $30 US by members and $65 US by non-members.

 
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Q.   What are the differences between Handbook Version 3.1 and 3.2?
A.  

The main differences involved aligning the handbook with the latest version of ISO/IEC 15288 and restructuring the document. A few new sections were also added. A good description of the differences was given in a paper presented at the INCOSE symposium in Chicago. It can be downloaded here

 
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Q.   Are any ?Practice Exams? available via the Internet?
A.  

There are no “Practice Exams” or questions currently available via the internet or otherwise. Sample questions may be made available in the future when they are “retired” and replaced by others in the examination.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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 your taking the examination.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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Q.   I have been approved to take the certification examination. How long do I have to take the examination?
A.  

Once you are approved to take the certification examination, you need to schedule the examination so that you will have completed it within one year of the submittal of your application. Because of the one- year overall limitation on processing your certification application, we suggest that you schedule and take the examination as soon as possible to allow time for scheduling and retaking the examination if you are not successful the first time.

 
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Q.   In what languages are the test offered?
A.  

The test is only offered in the Engish language.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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Complaints
 
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.

 
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Q.   How do I report someone 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.

 
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Q.   Once I file a complaint about someone being unethical, when can I expect a decision from the Certification Office?
A.  

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.

 
 
 
 
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Content Owner: SE Certification Advisory Group (SECAG) | Last Updated: 1 Aug 2014
 

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