Certified Environmental Professional vs. Registered Environmental Professional®

If you have begun investigating certifications for environmental professionals, you’ve doubtlessly learned one important thing: There’s a baffling number of credentials, all with different courses of study, prerequisites, and available job prospects. For the aspiring licensed environmental professional, the variety of recognized titles can seem downright impenetrable. 
Just consider the certified environmental professional (CEP) certification and the registered environmental professional (REP) certification. What’s the difference between them? Do they have similar courses of study? What learning outcomes do they provide? And does one provide superior preparation for the aspiring environment professional? Read on to learn more. 

REP Certification Basics

REP certification differs from CEP certification in a number of important ways. These include the:

  • Issuing body
  • Educational requirements
  • Licensing requirements
  • Testing and evaluation 
  • Type of certification
While both CEP and REP certifications are intended to demonstrate that their holders have achieved a high level of professional competence, their organizational bodies go about issuing them in very different ways. For instance, though the ABCEP serves as the preferred issuing organization for CEP, it isn’t the only one. Multiple organizations can provide it. The same isn’t true for REP certification. You can only receive it through the National Registry of Environment Professionals (NREPSM), which holds a special place in the field. In addition to having 12,000 members, NREPSM is officially recognized by governmental entities such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
REP also has stricter educational requirements. For instance, applicants cannot apply if they only have a bachelor’s degree. They must possess a graduate degree in an environmentally related subject. MBAs will not count toward your accreditation.
Additionally, NREPSM evaluates your work experience differently. Instead of evaluating your professional achievements solely by years served, an REP certification takes your professional certifications and licenses. Some of these include:
  • Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) 
  • Certified Environmental Trainer (CET) 
  • Certified Safety Professional (CSP) 
  • Certified Environmental Professional (CEP) 
  • Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) 
  • State Certified Environmental Manager License 
  • State Licensed Environmental Assessor 
  • State Licensed Site Professional 
  • Certified Professional Geologist/Hydro-geologist License 
  • Oklahoma Registered Professional Specialist 
  • Certified Utility Safety Administrator
Finally, an REP certification doesn’t require a test or exam, and NREPSM levies a flat $300 application fee.


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CEP Certification Basics

The CEP program is the oldest in the field. Originally instituted in 1979 as part of the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP), it was spun off into the Academy of Board Certified Environmental Professionals (ABCEP), which became a subsidiary administrating organization. However, CEP certification isn’t limited solely to the ABCEP. Over time, this certification has spread to multiple certifying bodies.

What does CEP certification involve? Well, note that this isn’t a certification intended for those in the early stages of their environmental degree. Applicants must have a higher degree, which can include a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or a doctorate. They must also have between seven and nine years of professional experience, five of which must be in some sort of supervision role. 

After providing a resume, recommendation letters, and a number of essays, CEP applicants with adequate educational and professional experience will undergo an interview. Applicants will only receive certification if approved by five of the seven panel members. Application fees cost $200, and if accepted, applicants must pay an additional $125 certification fee.

CEP certification requires approximately three months to complete, and it demonstrates that holders are not only accomplished environmental professionals, but also that they adhere to an industry recognized code of conduct and ethics.

Why REP Is the Superior Choice for Most Environmental Professionals

Just like CEP certification, NREPSM’s REP certification demonstrates that its recipients are accomplished and ethical participants in the environmental fields. However, REP certification has higher educational standards, broader career metrics, a lower cost, and grants access to the NREPSM’s prestigious and widely recognized ranks. While both are excellent certifications in their own right, the REP will serve as the superior choice for most accomplished environmental professionals.