Certifications for Incentive Pros

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Learn which industry certifications are best for you.

Incentive industry professionals can demonstrate their knowledge, experience and leadership, as well as enhance their professional standing in the industry, by obtaining one or more of the incentive industry certifications that are available.

However, with several incentive industry certifications to choose from, it can be difficult to understand what each designation means and how they compare to one another. In order to help industry professionals understand their options, we have put together a guide to the various certifications that can be obtained.

Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS)

The Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) designation is awarded by the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) following an online exam.

The designation is aimed at anyone new to incentive travel, such as a recent college graduate working in business events at a large hotel or an experienced travel professional recently employed by a large corporation in the meeting and incentive planning department.

The exam can either be taken following a two-day, in-person workshop or by reviewing the workshop materials at your own pace after registering for CIS Online. The workshop materials include how incentive programs are designed, what motivates people to achieve greater levels of performance and the positive impact of incentive travel.

The in-person workshop is available at locations all around the world, and costs $750 for SITE members and $875 for non-members. CIS Online registration costs $295 for SITE members and $345 for non-members. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and is taken online – once registered, applicants can take the test as many times as they like until they reach the designated pass.

Certified Incentive Travel Professional (CITP)

The Certified Incentive Travel Professional (CITP) exam, also awarded by SITE, is a mid-level qualification aimed at incentive travel professionals with at least five years of full-time industry experience.

The CITP designation is awarded on completion of a 100-question examination within a 2.5 hour time period, which measures the candidate’s performance against the common requirements of an incentive travel professional. The exam consists of mainly multiple choice questions and does not require any essay-type answers.

The content of the exam covers subjects such as the business case for incentive travel, strategic planning, program design, stakeholder management, human resources, sales, project management, risk management, site management, CSR and sustainability.

The CITP curriculum has been specifically designed for incentive travel planners working in corporations and agencies, but is also relevant to senior managers on the supplier side, such as DMOs, DMCs, hotels, venues and cruise companies.

Applicants for the CITP Exam must demonstrate employment in the incentive travel profession for at least 12 consecutive months of the last 24 months, and have a total of five years of industry experience; or have three years of experience and the CIS designation. All candidates must also have completed 40 hours of professional development activities in the past five years, with 10 hours being SITE sponsored content.

The CITP Exam is offered during CITP Week, taking place Oct. 4-8, 2021. However the deadline to apply to sit the exam has now passed. The CITP Exam will also be offered at IMEX America in Las Vegas on Nov. 8, 2021, and the deadline to apply is Sept. 13, 2021. Sitting the IMEX America CITP Special Exam will cost $200 for SITE members and $895 for non-members.

Incentive Professional (IP)

The Incentive Professional (IP) designation is offered by the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) and is the first of three steps to obtaining the IMA’s Certified Professional of Incentive Management (CPIM) designation.

The IP designation is awarded to candidates who successfully passed the IMA’s Principles of Results-Based Incentive Program Design examination, which consists of 98 multiple choice and essay questions, and is available year-round online or at the IMA’s annual Summit.

The content of the exam covers designing and implementing an incentive program, employee recognition programs, sales incentives, safety programs and consumer promotions. The IMA offers course materials including a downloadable Principles of Results-Based Incentive Program Design Source Book, more than 30 online resource documents, and a video of an instructor teaching an in-person course offering. An in-person workshop is also offered annually at the IMA Summit. The online course materials are free to IMA members and available for $75 to non-members.

The cost of sitting the IP exam is $150 for IMA members and $300 for non-members. Group discounts are also available based on the total number of exam seats paid within the same calendar year by a member company or qualified group.

Recipients of the IP designation may use the IP letters after their name, and in business promotion materials. Recipients may also continue the further steps to obtain CPIM designation.

Certified Professional of Incentive Management (CPIM)

The Certified Professional of Incentive Management (CPIM) designation is offered by the IMA to candidates who meet its standards of industry knowledge and leadership.

Applicants must have a minimum of two consecutive years of incentive industry experience and be active in the industry at the time of certification.

There are three steps to obtaining the CPIM designation. Candidates must first obtain the Incentive Professional (IP) designation, awarded by the IMA, after successfully completing a 98-question multiple choice exam. After completing this first step, candidates must then complete a point-based assessment tool designed to measure their industry experience, leadership contributions and training. Candidates must have a total of 100 points to be eligible to pursue the CPIM certification. Points are earned for activities such as attending conferences, receiving industry awards, and participating in other educational activities over the immediate prior three year period.

Application fees for CPIM certification are $100 for IMA members and $250 for non-members.

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