Professional Development Program & Certification

Summary of IAWP’s Professional Development and Certification Programs
WPDP-CWS Powerpoint Presentation

The Workforce Professional Development Program (WPDP)

WPDP is a series of study guides and examinations designed to measure and recognize an individual’s knowledge of workforce development programs. Created in 1988, WPDP gives workforce professionals an opportunity to enhance knowledge and career growth. Several State Workforce Development Agency training programs have incorporated WPDP and recognize it as a useful tool. Resource guides and online exams currently available are The History of Workforce Development, Business and Job Seeker, Unemployment Insurance, and Labor Market Information.

WPDP is available online!

Online Process:
After our IAWP Administrative Office receives your application and payment you will be sent the study guides in a PDF document via e-mail.  Once you have studied the guides and are ready to take the exam, you complete the “Intent to Test” portion of the application form and send it to the IAWP Administrative Office.  There is no additional charge for the testing – it’s included in the original application fee.  Once the Administrative Office receives your Intent to Test, you will be sent a link via e-mail to the on-line exam(s) and then you can take the test(s) from anywhere you have access to a computer connected to the Internet.

Certified Workforce Specialist (CWS) Program

IAWP believes that to grow as people and to grow in our careers, we need to be lifelong learners. That’s why IAWP is committed to helping its members achieve professional development goals and it is the reason the Certified Workforce Specialist (CWS) Program was developed.

What’s in it for me?

  • The “CWS” credential after your name shows you are part of an outstanding group of workforce professionals who have extensive knowledge and experience in workforce issues.
  • It shows you have passed a rigorous competency-based testing program from an international association, that you are respected by your peers, and that you see professional membership as an important part of your career.
  • The CWS designation shows current and potential employers your initiative in developing, maintaining, and improving your career skills within the workforce field.

Certification Requirements

There are four (4) requirements:

  1. Education plus Experience
    • Master’s Degree with two (2) years current experience OR
    • Bachelor’s Degree with three (3) years current experience OR
    • Associate’s Degree with four (4) years current experience OR
    • High School Diploma or GED with five (5) years current experience
  2. Professional Membership
    The applicant must have maintained membership in IAWP for the previous two (2) consecutive years or have similar membership in another workforce development professional association for the same time frame. To join IAWP, please go to the Join IAWP section of this website.
  3. IAWP Workforce Professional Development Program (WPDP)
    Candidates must pass all four (4) WPDP competencies (History of Workforce Development, Business & Jobseeker Specialist, Unemployment Insurance Specialist, and Labor Market Information Specialist). The WPDP is currently available 24/7 for online testing. See the WPDP section of this website for more information.
  4. Professional References
    The candidate must submit two (2) letters of reference: one from an immediate supervisor, and one from another person within the workforce profession who can attest to the individual’s experience, knowledge and skills. Need help explaining what you need from your references? Check out this letter to share with them that explains it all!

Certification Period

Certification is valid for three years from time of approval. Individuals may apply for recertification every three (3) years as long as they can show proof that they are still employed in a workforce development profession and provide proof that they have completed at least 100 hours of professional development training since their last certification.

Need to recertify? Here’s the application!

Application Process

The official application form must be completed legibly and sent to the IAWP Administrative Office with the required documentation and fees as noted. Applications will be reviewed by the IAWP Review Committee within two (2) months of receipt. Approved applicants will be notified within two (2) weeks of completion of review by way of a certificate and letter of congratulations.

CWS Application Package


Certification: The application fee is $50 and is not refundable. If the application is not accepted, you can reapply within six (6) months for no additional fee.

Re-certification (every three (3) years): The reapplication fee is $50.

Other Information