What is AICP?

AICP is the American Planning Association’s professional institute, providing recognized leadership nationwide in the certification of professional planners, ethics, professional development, planning education, and the standards of planning practice. Certified planners use their skills to find solutions to community problems and carry the community toward its desired long-term goals. Taking the AICP exam is the first step to becoming a certified planner. To qualify, one must be a current APA member, submit an online application meeting certain education and experience criteria, and pass an examination. Individuals applying to take the AICP Certification exam must demonstrate that they have engaged in professional planning experience that qualifies them for AICP certification.

A complete description of the AICP process and requirements is found on the APA National website.

Considering AICP Certification?

So you have decided to be a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Congratulations! Taking the AICP exam is first step to become a certified planner. To qualify one must:

  • Be a current APA member; and
  • Submit an online application (must meet certain education and experience criteria); and
  • Pass the AICP examination.

Several combinations of education and experience may be qualifying. For example, a planner with a bachelor’s degree from a PAB-accredited program may qualify with three years of professional experience. A planner with a graduate degree in Planning from a PAB-accredited program may qualify with two years of professional experience. Other academic disciplines and professional experience may also be qualifying.

The application process also requires you to provide written responses to four qualifying criteria in terms of your professional planning experience. Letters from supervisors are required to verify your experience. It is critical all potential candidates read the Exam Candidate Bulletin for a complete orientation to the exam. AICP certification carries a high mark of distinction for good reason. After certification AICP members are required to abide by the Code of Ethics at all times, serve community interests, and participate in continuing education.

Scholarships for reduced examination fees
If you are uncertain whether you meet the requirements to qualify for the exam, you are strongly encouraged to apply by the Early Bird deadline. APA National will give you feedback on your application if you do not qualify, and this may give you a chance to revise your application and resubmit again for the same testing window.

Financial Assistance
APA National recognizes that a $495 application fee may be an obstacle to some members who wish to apply to take the exam. On behalf of National, the California Chapter administers a scholarship program which evaluates members’ financial assistance needs through a confidential process.
Please visit APA California to find the AICP Exam Scholarship Application or click here. We encourage you to pursue this scholarship if any of the criteria in the application apply to you.

AICP Exam Preparation Workshops
Your Central Coast Section Professional Development Officer will meet you in small groups or one-on-one free of charge to help you prepare for the AICP exam.  AICP Preparation workshop topics include:

  • Benefits of AICP
  • Requirements and Eligibility
  • How to Apply
  • Fees
  • Study Tips
  • Exam Preparation Resources
  • Taking the Exam
  • Exam Scoring

Email Tanner Shelton at to set up an appointment.

AICP Certification Maintenance (CM) Program
Did you attend the national or state conference? Have you attended any local training sessions or utilized a free online course? Don’t forget to log in your CM credits. Find free or low cost APA California Chapter continuting education credits here. For other location please visit the APA Activities by Provider database.

Are you organizing an event that should be eligible for AICP credits?

Thank you for your interest in organizing, hosting, and or sponsoring an AICP Certification Maintenance (CM) event.

Completion of this application will allow the Central Coast Section’s Professional Development Officer to determine if your event is eligible for CM credits and set up your event in the American Planning Association’s (APA) Online CM Entry Log.

All professional planners who are members of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) must engage in continuing education to maintain their certification. AICP members must earn a minimum of 32 Certification Maintenance credits every two years—include at least 1.5 CM credits each on the topics of ethics and current planning law.

AICP’s CM program strengthens planning practice and the integrity of the AICP credential by establishing professional development standards applicable to all AICP members. The CM program helps certified planners earn mandatory credits and keep up with trends, new technologies, and best practices by linking them to education and training opportunities.

All CM events must meet ALL of the following criteria:

1) How will the event offer a professionally relevant learning experience for a planner (e.g. for a planner with at least four years of experience after earning a two-year master’s degree)?

2) How does this event meet a specific-planning-related training objective?

3) What are the specific training objectives and how does your event meet them?

If you are organizing or hosting an upcoming event that merits AICP continueing education credits, submit the completed application and necesary materials to APA Central Coast’s Professional Development Officer by email. Professional Development Officer no less than 2 weeks in advance of the event, or 4 weeks in advance of the event if you would like APA Central Coast to consider sharing your event announcement with APA Central Coast members.

AICP CM Event Eligibility Application (PDF)