Systems Engineering Certification

Demonstrating knowledge and experience in the practice of Systems Engineering

Being a Reference


All candidates for CSEP and ESEP certification must have references confirm 5 or 10 years of their systems engineering work experience. Candidates applying for CSEP, and with a qualifying degree, must have five years of their work experience confirmed by their combination of references.  All other candidates for CSEP, and all candidates for ESEP, must have references confirm at least ten years of experience. 

In addition to confirming quantity of systems engineering work experience, the reference must also confirm that the candidate performed a variety of systems engineering activities.  

All references must submit Form 4B to [email protected].

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The CSEP requirement is for at least 3 SE experience areas that have been done for at least 12 months of a person’s career. ESEPs must have worked in at least 6 SE experience areas, for at least 24 months of a person’s career.  

A reference for experience must have known the candidate during the time of that experience and have been aware of that work while it was being done. The reference must also be familiar with systems engineering, such that they can confirm the candidate was doing systems engineering work.


A reference must have at least five years of work experience and must prove they are familiar with systems engineering. Current and former supervisors or customers / clients are ideal references. Their inputs are given greater credibility by the review committee than are inputs from co-workers. Subordinates are not appropriate as references. References do not have to be systems engineers or INCOSE members.  

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References must use the standard INCOSE reference Form 4B (ESEP references may also be asked to participate in a 30-minute phone call). These reference calls are held in English and the questions focus on the reference’s knowledge of the candidate’s systems engineering work experience and technical leadership.  

Reference FAQs:

May I submit a generic letter of recommendation instead of having my reference complete the INCOSE reference form?

No. The references must use standard INCOSE reference forms.

What should I do if I do not have a reference for some of my experience?

Unfortunately, INCOSE's Certification Application Reviewers may not be able to give credit for your experience if it is not confirmed by a reference. Note that ESEPs do not need references for all of their experience, only ten years. If you cannot find enough people who know systems engineering and knew your work while you were doing it, you may need to wait a few more years to submit confirmed work experience. You may also want to start training your colleagues about systems engineering so they can recognize that you do it. References do not need to be systems engineers, they just need to know enough about systems engineering to describe it.

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?

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, instead of or in addition to any "copy-paste" of information from your application.

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