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The CPP Standard

Established in 1977 by Professional Photographers of America the Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) credential serves to identify professional photographers who have demonstrated technical competence through a written examination and photographic image submission. PPA and the Certification Committee follow standards for certification that are established by the national Institute of Credentialing Excellence (ICE). ICE sets the guidelines for creating the written certification exam, and makes sure the questions are relevant to professional photography today. ICE also provides PPA and the Certification Committee with support and information to maintain the certification process.

What is Certification

The certification of specialized skill-sets affirms a knowledge and experience base for practitioners in a particular field, their employers, and the public at large. Certification represents a declaration of a particular individual's professional competence. In some professions certification is a requirement for employment or practice. Doctors, mechanics, accountants, professional secretaries, surveyors and many others are all required to go through a certification process of some kind.

About The CPP Award

The Certified Professional Photographer Award is used to enhance Affiliate State or Regional Competition. This award recognizes the highest scoring Certified Professional Photographer print, album, or electronic submission.


Certified Professional Photographer Mission Statement:

To acknowledge and validate a consistent standard by which professional
photographers can achieve and maintain a recognizable mark of excellence.

Do I need to be a PPA member?

All CPPs and CPP Candidates are required to be PPA members. Remember there is no annual charge for Certification for PPA members. For more information about PPA Membership click here!

How much does the CPP cost?

  • Declaring your Candidacy is the first step on your CPP journey. The candidacy application fee is $200. 
  • There is no fee to take the exam in person, but there is a $25 fee to take it online.
  • Three rounds of image submissions are included with the above mentioned application fee. But should you require more, there is a $100 fee to get up to three additional rounds of submission chances.
  • To renew your certification (every three years) there is a $100 fee, UNLESS you attend Imaging USA three years in a row, then recertifying is free.

Steps to become certified the first time:

  1. Declare your candidacy. To do this, simply fill out the candidacy form. In this step, you will also need to pay the application fee of $200 . Please note that your candidacy won't be officially declared until your payment is processed. Once confirmed, your candidacy will be valid for two years. Sign up using this form!
  2. Prepare for the exam. There are many resources provided to help you prepare for your CPP exam. Take advantage of all these by visiting the CPP Exam Resources section of PPA's website. We suggest first downloading the CPP Test Specifications so you know what the exam covers. Then you can test your knowledge with the CPP Keywords, browse the suggested reading material, review the CPP Flashcards and take a Sample CPP Exam. You can also sign up for a CPP Prep Class which will definitely boost your confidence on the big day!
  3. Take the exam. Once you feel confident you are ready to take the exam simply go online and register for an exam in your area or online.
  4. The Image Submission follows the exam. You will receive a set of instructions to follow in order to submit your images. You can submit your images for review up to three times without incurring any extra charges. Should you not pass the image submission within the first three tryout rounds, you'll simply have to reapply for candidacy, with a reduced cost of $100 to reapply, earning you three more rounds of image submissions and an additional year to do so.
  5. Celebrate. Once you get your certification, give yourself a break and celebrate! You'll deserve it.


CPP Recertification

Every three years: Recertify

Once you've achieved the CPP designation, you will need to recertify every three years. CPPs eligible for recertification will receive three notices on the year they are due to recertify, two via email and one via regular mail. The CEU system involved in the CPP recertification process encourages you to continue your photography education and raise the bar in the photographic industry.

To recertify, 15 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are required, along with a payment of $100.  But the good news is that the recertification fee of $100 is waived if you attend Imaging USA three years in a row. The CEU credits represent education opportunities that you will have attended as a student. Please note that teaching or speaking at seminars does not count toward recertification.

To learn how to how to earn credits or if you're not sure how many CEUs you have under your belt:

  • 8 Units - Imaging USA
  • 5 Units - Affiliate School program lasting at least 4 days
  • 3 Units - Affiliate School program lasting at least 2 days
  • 4 Units - Other Multi-day photography education program
  • 1 Unit - Photography industry seminars or workshops lasting 6 hours or more
  • 1/2 Unit - Any face to face professional development program lasting 4 to 6 hours
  • 1/2 Unit - Any face to face professional development program lasting 2 to 3 hours


Once prompted for recertification, you will need to submit your CEUs online by filling out the Recertification Education Unit Tracking Form.  After your form has been processed, you will receive an email about the status of your recertification. When your recertification is accepted, you will receive your recertification packet and certificate in the mail within 3-4 weeks.


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