Why Professional Certification?


A professional certification is a sign to employers that you have made a commitment to your profession.  This is ongoing, as compared with a degree – you earn your initial certification, and then you maintain it through qualifying mandatory continuous professional learning activities.  This shows employers that you are serious about keeping your skills current and expanding your knowledge in planning.  It enhances your employability and prospects for promotion.

The Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) and its affiliated professional institutes (Provincial/Territorial Institutes and Associations, or PTIAs) have established the value of the Registered Professional Planner (RPP) or equivalent (LPP, etc.) certification, along with the Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners (MCIP) credential, over the years, and many public and private organizations consider it a pre-requisite for more senior planning positions; if you want to go places in planning, being an RPP is enormously helpful.
In Canada, many PTIAs have succeeded in obtaining what is known as “right to title” legislation:  in those provinces, you cannot call yourself a Registered Professional Planner or the equivalent unless you have been certified as such by your PTIA.  Some provinces have extended this legislation to specify that certain planning tasks (typically at a senior level) may only be performed by an RPP.

Finally, some provinces either already have or are being encouraged to establish “right to practice” legislation.  This restricts the practice of planning to those who hold the RPP certification or its equivalent, and would put planning on a par with engineering, accounting, architecture and law as regulated professions.  Such regulation helps raise the profile of the planning profession and, along with it, your own profile as a committed professional.  It also provides greater assurance to the public that planners will be appropriately skilled and accountable.

Enter PSB

In 2012, the Professional Standards Board for the Planning Profession in Canada (PSB) was established to oversee the certification process for CIP and its participating PTIAs (currently, all PTIAs except l’Ordre des urbanistes du Québec (OUQ)).  PSB is a separately incorporated body, headed by an independent Board of Directors, and operates under agreements with its members to provide the following services:

 Certification:

  • Assessment of applications for Candidate status
  • Verification of mentorship and sponsorship of work experience
  • Delivery of courses and examinations leading to certification as a professional planner

Accreditation of University Academic Planning Programs:

  • Administering accreditation reviews of university planning degree programs based on the accreditation program principles, policies and administrative arrangements

We will assist you in the certification process.

Overview of the Certification Process

As a planning student, you can enter our process in one of two ways:

Accredited Degree Route

If you are a graduate of a university planning program accredited by CIP and the participating PTIAs, this is the quickest way for you to proceed:

  • Once you are employed in planning, submit an application for assessment, along with the required information and payment, to the PSB office
  • We will review your application and, if it meets the standards, will refer it to your PTIA who will register you as a Candidate member (separate membership fee required)
  • As a Candidate, you may then begin working towards your certification:
    • Begin your mentorship; you are required to complete a minimum one-year of mentorship, and your Mentor must sign off on this
    • Begin logging your responsible professional planning experience (the equivalent of two years is required); your Sponsor will be required to sign off on this. If you spent some time working in planning prior to your application to PSB, you may be able to backlog some of that experience towards your two-year experience requirement
    • Successfully complete the Ethics & Professionalism Course and Test
    • Submit your signed Record of Mentorship and signed Record of Practical Work Experience (log book) to the PSB office
    • Register to write the Professional Examination (offered twice annually, usually in March and September)
  • Upon successful completion of the Professional Examination, we will recommend you to your  PTIA for certification

Throughout this process, you are required to maintain Candidate membership with your PTIA.  Please note that you may log your work experience and take your mentorship concurrently, and you may take the Ethics & Professionalism Course and Test at any time prior to registering for the Professional Examination.  You cannot write the Professional Examination until all the other steps have been completed.

Prior Learning Assessment Recognition (PLAR) Route

If you have graduated from a planning program not accredited by CIP and the participating PTIAs, or from a non-planning program, you may still achieve certification, but it will definitely take longer:

  • Before applying to PSB, you must have accumulated and be able to document five (5) years responsible professional planning experience
  • Once you have met the five-year criterion, submit an application for assessment, along with the required information and payment, to the PSB office
  • We will review your application and, if it meets the standards, will refer it to your PTIA who will register you as a Candidate member (separate membership fee required)
  • As a Candidate member, you may then begin working towards your certification:
    • Begin your mentorship; you are required to complete a minimum one-year of mentorship, and your Mentor must sign off on this
    • Begin logging your responsible professional planning experience (the equivalent of one year of qualifying experience is required); your Sponsor will be have to sign off on this.  Please note that backlogging experience is not permitted if you use this entry route
    • Successfully complete the Ethics & Professionalism Course and Test
    • Submit your signed Record of Mentorship and signed Record of Practical Work Experience (log book) to the PSB office
    • Register to write the Professional Examination (offered twice annually, usually in March and September)
  • Upon successful completion of the Professional Examination, we will recommend you to your PTIA for certification

As with those applying through the Accredited Degree route, PLAR Candidates must maintain PTIA membership throughout the process (excluding the five years of prior experience), and may log work experience and take mentorship concurrently. If you are working towards your five years’ experience and would still like to be part of your PTIA, you may be able to join them as a Pre-Candidate member – in this case, please apply directly to your PTIA.