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Frequently Asked Questions About Certification

If you have a question that is not answered below, please email certification@iedconline.org or (202) 223-7800.

Why should I become certified as an economic developer?
The Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) program is the leading industry designation. Having CEcD after your name makes you more marketable (check out our job listings to see what we mean.) It not only shows that you have the breadth of knowledge to perform at the top level in the profession, it enhances your visibility within your organization and the visibility of your organization within the profession.

Is there a specific amount of experience required before one can apply for certification?
Yes. To apply for the certification exam, you need to have at least four (4) consecutive years of full-time, paid professional experience in economic development. As part of the exam application process, you must submit a current resume that outlines your experience in the field. Individuals can begin taking coursework before they have the experience requirement.

I am a Canadian economic development professional wishing to pursue my CEcD designation. How can I do that?
IEDC is offering several training courses throughout Canada in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia each year. Plan your schedule to complete the professional development requirements and prepare to sit for the first exam tailored to Canadians in Toronto September 16-17, 2017.

The grandfathering period for individuals who hold their EcD designation to apply for the CEcD has passed. However, IEDC is accepting applications for special circumstances. Email certification@iedconline.org for more information.

What courses do I need to take?
All applicants must complete at least six professional development courses, representing four core competencies, plus two electives (see How to Become Certified for possible waivers). The IEDC course selections are listed below.

Core courses:
• Introduction to Economic Development (Basic Economic Development Courses)
• Business Retention & Expansion
• Economic Development Credit Analysis
• Real Estate Development and Reuse

• Economic Development Finance Programs
• Economic Development Marketing & Attraction
• Economic Development Strategic Planning
• Entrepreneurial & Small Business Development Strategies
• Managing Economic Development Organizations
• Neighborhood Development Strategies
• Technology-led Economic Development
• Workforce Development

Is there a particular order in which the courses should be taken?
No. You are free to attend the courses that best meet your own schedule, travel budget and professional needs.

How long does the certification process take?
There is no set time frame for obtaining certification. The length of time depends on your budget, schedule, and the urgency you personally feel about becoming certified. However, we see a good number of applicants complete the course requirements within a year - 18 months.

How much does the certification process cost?
The estimated total investment is just shy of $9,000. This price is based on the early member rate for IEDC professional development courses set in 2014 and excludes exam retake fees.

Price Breakdown:

Course Registration
(5 courses @ $505 + 1 Course (Credit Analysis) @ $615)


Travel & Lodging
(6 courses + CEcD exam @ $800)


Exam Application




How do I prepare for the exam?
You will receive an IEDC training manual as part of the registration for each of the IEDC training courses. These manuals serve as the basis for the Multiple Choice/Short Answer portion of the exam, and should be used as the primary study guide as you prepare to sit. You will need six manuals in total, the four core competency manuals:

• Introduction to Economic Development
• Business Retention & Expansion
• Economic Development Credit Analysis/Finance
• Real Estate Development & Reuse

and two elective competencies of your choice. You will be able to select the competencies you'd like to be tested on at the time of application. Once you've selected these, you will not be able to change them. If you chose to be tested on elective competencies that you've not taken courses on, it is recommended that you purchase the corresponding training manual to use as you prepare.

We also offer an exam candidate's guide, containing information on certification requirements, the application process, exam format and procedures, as well as sample questions and how to maintain certification once you've achieved it.

Are there prep courses?
IEDC does not offer a preparatory course for the CEcD exam. Some state or regional associations offer prep courses as a way to encourage their members to take the exam. We recommend that you contact your state or regional association to find out if they offer such programs. IEDC also offers a CEcD mentorship program for its members. Candidates can request a mentor as part of the application process. You may also wish to organize a study group or network with other candidates who live in your region or with whom you already network. We recommend using LinkedIn, your state or regional association, and other outlets to connect with others preparing for the exam.

Does IEDC recognize any other professional development programs for certification credit?
Certification applicants may substitute a Basic Economic Development Course for IEDC's Introduction to Economic Development course. For training beyond the introductory level, we recognize the courses at the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute.

What does the exam look like?
The CEcD exam is made up of 3 parts:

• Multiple Choice/Short Answer - Questions in this section come directly from the 4 core competency manuals and 2 elective manuals each candidate has selected.

• Essay - This section requires candidates to answer questions for the core competencies: Business Retention & Expansion; Credit Analysis/Finance; and Real Estate Development & Reuse. Candidates are able to choose to answer 2 additional questions from the list of 7 elective questions.

• Oral Interview - To take this section, candidates must pass both the multiple choice/short answer and essay sections. Candidates will be interviewed by a panel of three current CEcDs and those who pass are newly minted Certified Economic Developers!

What is the pass rate for the CEcD exam?
The table below presents 2017-2020 exam pass rate:



Pass Rate
















How many exams are offered per year?
At a minimum, we offer a CEcD exam in conjunction with 3 of our four (4) conferences every year. In addition, we sometimes offer a fourth exam in the 4th quarter. View the calendar of upcoming dates.

What must I do to maintain my certification?
Once you’ve earned your CEcD, you must participate in economic development professional development activities, as well as remain active in the field. CEcDs must recertify every three (3) years. Learn more regarding the specifics of recertification.