125-item online test [ 5]; reviewof experience (work samples) by aprofessional board; continuance ofcertification; and compliance withthe code of ethics. The exam is basedon the BCPE Core Competencies,which comprehensively define theprofession in terms of six major areas:basic principles, core background, coremethodology, methods and contentspecific to applications, applications,and professional ethics [ 6]. Applicantsneed not enroll in any particulartraining to pass the test. Recertificationis required every five years basedon proof of continuing educationand professional activity in the field.
Certificants may choose among thenominal designations CPE (CertifiedProfessional Ergonomist), CHFP(Certified Human Factors Professional),or CUXP (Certified User ExperienceProfessional). The cost of the applicationand the test is a few hundred dollars;maintaining the certificate costs about
$100 a year.
A variety of ergonomics and UXcertificate programs can be found onlineand are described by Arnie Lund [ 7].
These programs typically offer multiplecourses in areas focused on ergonomicassessment, usability data-collectionskills, and technical writing; notmuch is offered in graphics design,interface architecture, or interactiondesign. Following completion of thesecourses, there can be an online exam,and a certificate may be granted. Insome programs it is not necessary totake the courses before taking theexam. Typically there is no continuingeducation or practice required to renew,nor is there a code of ethics. Coursesmay run into the thousands of dollars.
Other features include certification ofan entire UX practice for an annual fee.
What are the pros and cons ofgetting a professional certification suchas CUXP? I discussed this questionwith several longtime professionals inthe UX field [ 8].
Among the pros:
• It provides a defined credential in
an ill-defined and generally unknown
• It indicates the individual meetsat least the minimum standard ofknowledge and practice for UX work.
• It’s a sign that a professional iswilling to put her background to a testdeveloped by a peer group to see if shemeasures up and how she can improve.
• It lends an extra measure ofconfidence for new grads, consultants,and practice owners just starting out(although its significance must beexplained to most employers).
• It boosts credibility withgovernment organizations for contracts.
• It’s a valuable qualification inforensic work (i.e., expert witness).
• It can provide an advantage when
competing for work against other firms.
• The core competencies can be usedto create and/or customize a company’sUX job categories and requirements forhiring and promotion.
• It provides an excellent network ofprofessionals to know and be known by.
• It enhances the profession byincreasing visibility in the industry,setting a professional standard, andencouraging professional development.
A few of the cons:
• UX professionals are all unique; wecan’t be defined by a test or program.Experience counts more than acertification.
• The association with human factors,engineering, or ergonomics may notreflect an individual’s core competenciessuch as architecture or graphic design,which are crucial to UX practice.
• It does not ensure raises orpromotions for UX professionals in large
SEPTEMBER–OCTOBER 2014 INTERACTIONS 83
a defined credential
in an ill-defined and
professional field. I M A G