What is CAE Certification for Association Professionals?

This article was originally posted June 5, 2020. It has been updated.

ASAE CAE DesignationThe Certified Association Executive (CAE) Program was established in 1960 by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) to promote the highest standards of association management. For over 60 years, it has served to credential association professionals and has stood as a mark of excellence.

A vibrant program, CAE is designed to enhance individual performance, elevate professional standards, and designate individuals who demonstrate the knowledge essential to the practice of association management. It is continually refined to keep pace with the growth and changes in association management as well as professional practices.

In a snapshot, the purpose of the CAE certification is to:

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The CAE certification eligibility requirements and program materials were developed through an industry analysis survey to identify the day-to-day knowledge used by association professionals. The results of the survey were used to define the scope of practice used for association management.

Nine knowledge domains and respective competencies were identified and serve as the basis for the certification:

    1. Strategic Management
    2. Governance and Structure
    3. Membership Development
    4. Programs, Products, and Services
    5. Leadership
    6. Administration
    7. Knowledge Management and Research
    8. Public Policy, Government Relations, and Coalition Building
    9. Marketing, Public Relations, and Communications

Earning CAE designation is a unique process, and planning the path involves recognizing your strengths, learning preferences, background, motivation, and available resources.

The benefits of CAE certification include:


      • Verification of your knowledge to demonstrate professional capabilities
      • Professional growth and development
      • Enhanced job opportunities


      • Increased productivity
      • Reduced training time
      • Competitive advantage

After meeting the eligibility requirements candidates should submit an application and prepare to sit for the exam within the next twelve months. The application deadlines for upcoming exam dates are twice a year, typically in February and September. The exam itself is generally in May and December but does fluctuate. Your application must be received in the CAE Program office by close of business on the listed application deadline.

Typically, certification is a multi-year process and the current cost is $500 for ASAE members and $750 nonmembers.

Certification is required to be renewed every three years, and certificants must complete 40 CAE credits.

American Associations Week is June 15-18th. Organized by The Power of A, this multi-day virtual advocacy and learning event will include policy webinars, virtual town halls, digital education, and more.

Learn about ASAE’s Power of A >>

All information was sourced from ASAE and its intent is to encourage membership professionals to explore the CAE program as well as the resources available through ASAE for association professionals.  Information is reliable, but not guaranteed. The CAE program is the property of ASAE. GrowthZone is a CAE Approved Provider.

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