Accreditation in Public Relations (APR)
Where your career in public relations takes you is based on individual drive, determination and diligence. One next step all seasoned practitioners should consider is earning the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) designation. Earning the APR certification proves you have successfully demonstrated competency in the knowledge, skills and abilities required to practice public relations effectively in today’s business arena.
When you are ready to take the next step, the NCPRSA Chapter has an APR Chair to walk with you through the process and provide the support and resources you will need along the way. For more details and all the information you need to know about the APR process, please visit http://praccreditation.org.
Hear From APRs
- While it took me about 10 years to finally take the plunge, I couldn’t be more thankful for the experience. From studying content to working with a fabulous mentor and panel, I felt so prepared for the exam. And I have used this knowledge time and again in promoting public relations efforts, from the importance of research to the benefits of evaluation. – Darcy Dye Bowers, APR, Transitions LifeCare
- The process of earning the APR helped me transition from PR technician to PR strategist. In the six years since I’ve earned my APR, I have been promoted twice and have earned the respect of colleagues for the expertise that the accreditation has afforded me. The APR redefined my approach to my work so that our campaigns are better developed and ultimately achieve more success. – Connie S. Helmlinger, APR, NC Housing Finance Agency
- I hold accreditation in high regard. While many may practice public relations, those who have achieved APR have committed to an enhanced level of professionalism, ethics and accountability backed by the knowledge, skills and abilities to practice the craft. – Chuck Norman, APR, S&A Communications
- Earning my APR was a big deal for me personally and for my organization. Accreditation demonstrates credibility and confirms that PR professionals are thinking strategically. I work for nurses, who are constantly learning as healthcare evolves, and I know our members are grateful that I valued professional development enough to prioritize the accreditation process. Making my “clients” happy was not the primary goal of earning my APR, but it is a great byproduct! – Chris Cowperthwaite, APR, North Carolina Nurses Association
- Earning my APR enhanced my professional credibility as well as my ability to practice public relations with increased confidence. I credit the APR experience with helping me gain a seat at the decision-maker’s table in a corporate communications setting. Now an independent practitioner, I find that the accreditation prepared me to think more strategically and equips me with a unique reason for potential clients to hire me over other individuals. – Stephanie Llorente, APR, Prep Communications
APR Frequently Asked Questions
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation in Public Relations is a voluntary certification program for public relations professionals.
What is the purpose of Accreditation?
The purpose is to unify and advance the public relations profession by identifying those who have demonstrated broad knowledge, experience and professional judgment in the field. The program seeks to improve public relations practice. The designation Accredited in Public Relations (APR) signifies a high professional level of experience and competence.
Why earn Accreditation?
Accreditation demonstrates that some individuals have knowledge of public relations strategy and best practices; an understanding of ethics; and experiences which set them apart.
The reasons to earn the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential are both professional and personal. The APR credential is increasingly becoming valued and used as a screening criteria for hiring and professional advancement. Research has shown that Accredited public relations practitioners earn more money than their non- Accredited counterparts. Many seek to earn the APR credential as part of their own professional growth goals, which often include lifelong learning, professional ethics, and a commitment to the best practices in public relations.
Who administers the Accreditation program?
The Accreditation program is administered by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), a consortium of nine leading public relations organizations, including:
- Asociación de Relacionistas Profesionales de Puerto Rico
- California Association of Public Information Officials
- Florida Public Relations Association
- Maine Public Relations Council
- National Association of Government Communicators
- National School Public Relations Association
- Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
- Religion Communicators Council
- Southern Public Relations Federation
The UAB includes representatives from each public relations participating organization and a chair.
What are the Universal Accreditation Board’s responsibilities?
The UAB oversees the Accreditation program and provides a balanced blend of backgrounds in a number of public relations specialties. This group of senior-level Accredited members meets several times a year. Day-to-day operations are administered at PRSA Headquarters. Responsibilities of the Universal Accreditation Board include the following:
- Develops and implements policy for the program
- Oversees ongoing research on the knowledge, skills and abilities to be assessed in the Accreditation process
- Develops and maintains the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations
- Reviews appeal cases
- Grants Accreditation
How old is the Accreditation Program?
The program originated in 1964 and was administered by PRSA until 1998. The Universal Accreditation Board was formed in 1998, after a group of public relations organizations came together to unite several certification and examination programs under one program, the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations.
Who is eligible?
Members of UAB participating organizations who are involved in the professional practice of public relations, or in the teaching or administration of public relations courses in an accredited college or university are eligible to seek accreditation. Military and armed forces civilian public affairs practitioners also are eligible to pursue the APR+M credential. Earning the APR+M, practitioners must meet the APR standards and additional requirements to demonstrate knowledge, skills and experience unique to military public affairs. The UAB recommends that anyone choosing to pursue Accreditation have at least five years of professional experience in public relations.
What is the fee to take the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations?
The fee is $385. Several of UAB’s participating organizations offer their members a rebate for a portion of the Examination fee as a member benefit. Check with your organization for details on rebates.
Please note that examination fees are non-refundable or transferable. Examination fees will be forfeit if a candidate does not cancel or reschedule his/her computer-based examination appointment by noon at least two (2) business days prior to the appointment date. If a candidate misses his/her appointment, he/she will not be rescheduled and will forfeit all fees paid.
Candidates with disabilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact the UAB staff for details about paperwork that needs to be filed.
Is Accreditation good for life?
Yes, with fulfillment of Maintenance of Accreditation requirements and continued membership in a UAB participating organization. Maintenance requirements must be met every three years for PRSA members Accredited after January 1, 1993, and other UAB participating organization members Accredited after January 1, 1998. To maintain the credential, Accredited practitioners must accumulate the required number of points through continuing education and professional development, professionalism or service categories, as part of the Maintenance of Accreditation Program. This further strengthens the value of the APR credential and keeps professionals actively up to date and involved in the public relations profession.
What steps are involved?
For quick reference, below are five general steps you’ll follow.
- You must apply for eligibility – that lets the UAB gauge your full-time public relations experience.
- Contact your chapter’s accreditation chair so you can start the process and be assigned a mentor, who will be invaluable during the process.
- Once your application is approved, you must schedule a Panel Presentation, which is a face-to-face review by three local APRs to determine whether you have a grasp of the knowledge, skills and abilities required to pass the comprehensive examination.
- Prior to the Panel Presentation, you must complete a Panel Presentation Candidate Questionnaire that addresses: your organization and position in public relations; overall experience; and assessment of readiness to pass the computer-based written examination.
- Successfully pass a multiple-choice computer-based exam at a location assigned to you by Prometric.
What’s the Computer-based Examination process like?
The Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations is a computer-based multiple choice test and you’ll have three hours and forty-five minutes to complete the Examination. This time includes a 10-15 minute optional break for candidates. You’ll receive immediate notification of pass/fail, and within a few weeks after the Examination, you’ll receive official notification on your results in the mail.
Who should I contact with more questions?
Contact Sarah Hattman, APR, accreditation chair.