The value of professional certification

by Jason Mollica on February 11, 2010

By Jason Mollica

One of my goals for 2010 is to become APR (Accredited in Public Relations) certified by the Public Relations Society of America.  It is widely considered as an important qualification to have in our profession.  According to, APR is “a voluntary demonstration of competency and reflects a strong commitment to the profession.”

But, APR is not the only certification those in our profession can attain.  There is also ABC (Accredited Business Communicator) accreditation from the International Association of Business Communicators. This peer-reviewed program challenges candidates to demonstrate their knowledge of strategic communication planning, implementation, measurement and ethics.

While I did my research into which certification would benefit me, I read a blog by Jeremy Porter on Journalistics, titled “Do You Need The APR?” He weighs the pros and cons of APR certification and the comments section has a very spirited discussion on the issue.

So do you really need certification? For example, our own Cheryl Carr is ABC accredited and Bob Carr is APR accredited.  I asked both of them for their thoughts on this issue.  “Professional certification, especially the APR, is a must for those looking to further their careers in public relations,” said Bob.  “It enhances both the profession and the professional by recognizing the superior practices and approach required by today’s public relations strategist and practitioner.”

Cheryl stressed that ABC is equally important because of its peer evaluation.  “It’s not just the validation of my credentials, but it’s validation that I possess the knowledge base to provide results-oriented communications counsel.” Cheryl added that she hope that someday accreditation will become the norm and not the exception. “It’s a process that I would recommend for any serious professional,” she said.

Whether you are a long-time pro or just entering the field, we would love your input on this topic.


Paul Roberts February 13, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Interesting topic Jason. I’m not prepared to say if certification is a good thing or a bad thing, but I can tell you that (in my experience) it certainly isn’t necessary.

I’ve been in PR for 15 years and I didn’t even know that these certifications existed, so they are clearly not necessary. But that being said, if I were just starting out in my career and I didn’t have a track record and a long resume to show perspective employers, I’d probably want a certification.

Jason Mollica February 14, 2010 at 12:19 pm


Thanks so much for your reply to the blog. I appreciate the perspective of a seasoned PR professional.

Let me ask you, why did you not hear about certification? Was it not well-publicized by your PRSA chapter? I’m intrigued.