AICP Exam Information

AICP certification is the only nationwide, independent verification of planners’ qualifications. Earn the AICP credential and colleagues and employers will know that you have the academic qualifications, relevant work experience, and mastery of essential skills required to serve your community effectively.

Why AICP? The most recent APA/AICP Planners Salary Survey shows that certified planners earn more than non-certified planners, even when experience and responsibility are considered. Certification also puts planners on equal footing with the architects, engineers, and other credentialed professionals with whom they work and compete.

Certification as a Planner

  • To become a certified planner and use the AICP designation, you must be a current member of the American Planning Association, submit an online application, meet specified education and experience requirements, and pass an examination. The exam is given twice a year, in May and November.
  • If you prefer to search online web resources, the National AICP Professional Practice Center is a reference tool that demonstrates the professionalism of planning and how AICP certification can add value to the practice of professional planning. Visit the National APA website at: http://www.planning.org/aicp/ for in-depth information.
  • The National APA website has additional detail about what you need to prepare for the examination: http://www.planning.org/certification/
  • Locally, a Professional Development Officer (PDO), who is a member of the Board of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Sacramento Valley Section, facilitates the AICP examination process and supports you in Certification Maintenance activities. The PDO can offer guidance as you prepare for the AICP exam, make professional contacts, and look for information on upcoming training opportunities.

ONLINE AICP Exam PREP

Hints for Taking the Written Examination:

  • Study approximately 100 hours; group study is useful as it creates structure and offers opportunity for dividing up the hard work.
  • Must absolutely use the "Green Bible" (International City/County Management Association, The Practice of Local Government Planning).
  • Helpful to read through the past 5 years of Planning magazine to understand the recent trends and hot topics.
  • Memorize the key facts in the history of planning (Daniel Burnham, Robert Moses, Lewis Mumford, etc.).
  • STRONGLY recommend purchasing the APA Chapter Presidents Council AICP Study Manual (available from APA California Chapter for $15 using this online form).
  • Memorize the key facts in the US Supreme Court cases (see Diane Kindermann's article in the APA Chapter Presidents Council AICP Study Manual).
  • The test is oriented towards Mid-western middle managers.
  • Understand basic budgeting terms, statistical methods, etc.
  • When taking the test, you have about 70 seconds per question; don't waste too much of your time on any one question.
  • Finish the test- even if you have to guess, because there are no penalties for wrong answers - you're scored based on the number of correct answers.

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