Certification Related FAQs

CPP FAQsIn this FAQ section you'll find information on the professional photographer's certification process itself, the exam and the correlated image submission. Jump to:

Certification Process FAQs

CPP Exam FAQs

CPP Image Submission FAQs


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.
  • 3 rounds of image submissions are included with the above mentioned application fee. But should you require more than 3 rounds, there is a $100 fee to get up to three more 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.

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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!

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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 $200 fee. 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 our 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.

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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 $100 fee 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, please use the table below.

Here's the point structure:

CPP Recertification CEU Table

Once prompted for recertification, you will need to submit your CEUs online by filling out the Recertification Education Unit Tracking Form below.

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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What if I can't meet the education requirements?

If you can't meet these education requirements, you can also re-take the CPP Exam.

Unfortunately, if you are unable to reach the required 15 credits or re-take the exam within your recertification period, your certification will be cancelled. You will need to reapply as a candidate and complete the candidacy requirements to re-obtain your credential.

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CPP's Standard

The Certification Committee follows the standards for certification established by the Institute of Credentialing Excellence. ICE sets the guidelines for creating the written test for certification, ensuring the questions are relevant to professional photography today. The Institute of Credentialing Excellence also provides support and information for maintaining the certification process to the certification Committee.

The Certification Committee meets on a regular basis to make sure the certification process always reflects the new advances in the photography industry.

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International Candidates/CPPs

The CPP designation is international, there are CPPs all over the world!

To see if there is a Certification Liaison in your country please view the CPP Liaison list. For those countries without a CPP Liaison CPP Candidates may register and take the exam online via remote proctor for a nominal fee of $25. For more information on taking the exam online please visit the Exam Registration section. For additional questions about taking the exam online you may contact cppmailbox@ppa.com. All Image Submission materials are submitted online.

Please note that the CPP certification exam is written in English. You must be able to read English and understand the technical terms of photography in English. Currently, no translation services are offered.

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I passed the Image Submission and am now a Certified Professional Photographer. When will I receive my certificate?

You will receive your CPP certificate in the mail approximately three weeks after the date that you received your passing email notification.

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What if my candidacy has expired but I want to continue the process?

If your candidacy has expired and you have not successfully completed the exam requirement, you will be required to restart the process by re-declaring your candidacy. Please contact cppmailbox@ppa.com for assistance.

If you have successfully completed the exam requirement, but not the image submission requirement, please contact cppmailbox@ppa.com for next steps.

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Is there anyone I can reach out to for help with the certification process?

Certification Liaisons know the program inside and out. The liaison acts as a spokesperson for certification, assisting candidates and existing Certified Professional Photographers as an expert and source of information. Liaisons must maintain their certification and PPA Membership, and are entrusted with responsibilities from the committee to maintain the integrity of the program.

If you are a Certified Professional Photographer or a CPP candidate, you can contact a Certification Liaison in your area for assistance or answers. 

List of Certification Liaisons.

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CPP Exam FAQs


How can I register for an exam?

 Candidates or CPPs who are up for renewal have the option to take the exam in-person or online. Visit the Exam Registration page for instructions.

You must be a declared and active CPP Candidate or a CPP up for renewal within the current calendar year to take the CPP Exam.

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What is the format of the exam?

Each exam is comprised of 100 multiple choice questions each worth one point. The material is pulled from the CPP test specifications and all exam questions are referenced in a readily available photography book. You will have two hours to complete the exam and must answer at least 70% correctly to pass.

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Are there specialty-specific CPP exams?

CPP Exams are not associated by specialty (Portrait, Sports, or Commercial).

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How do I find out about upcoming exam dates and locations?

For in-person exams, dates and locations are added frequently. Please check the exam schedule. Exams are listed approximately 60 days in advance, giving enough time for CPP candidates to register and prepare.

Or you can choose to take the exam online in as soon as 72 hours (3 days).

Visit the Exam Registration page for more information.

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When and how will the exam results be published?

 For exams taken in person, you will receive your results via email approximately two to three weeks after your exam date.

For exams taken online, you will receive your results via email approximately 5-7 business days after your exam date.

If you pass the exam (70% score or higher) you will receive your numerical score out of 100.
 
If you do not pass the exam (69% score or below), you will receive your numerical score along with a breakdown showing you how many questions you missed in each exam section. This is very helpful to go back and study those weaker areas.

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How many times can I take the exam?

You may take the exam once every 30 days as many times as you need during your two-year candidacy period. After that initial two year period, you will need to start the process again, but there are no limits as to how many times you might be allowed to do this again.

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If I have failed, is there an additional fee to re-take the exam?

For in-person exams, there is no fee associated with retaking the exam.

For online exams, there is the $25 fee paid to ProctorU to proctor the exam.

You may take the exam as many times as needed within your candidacy period as long as there are at least 30 days between exam dates.

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I registered for an exam but cannot attend. How can I change my registration?

If you registered for an in-person exam, simply email cppmailbox@ppa.com with your name, ID # and scheduled test date at least five days prior to the exam. We will remove you from the exam roster and you will be able to reschedule your exam online at any time!

If you registered for an online exam, all rescheduling and cancelation matters are handled through ProctorU.

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Can I request special exam accommodations?

CPP exam accommodations

The CPP examination program provides reasonable and appropriate accommodations for individuals with documented disabilities within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADA). Under ADA, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits an individual's ability to perform one or more major life activities, as compared with most people in the general population.

Types of accommodations provided

Available accommodations include but are not limited to the following:

  • Extra exam time
  • Private Exam/Exam Room
  • A reader or recorder for individuals with mobility or vision impairments and who cannot read or write on their own

PPA will make reasonable efforts to accommodate eligible candidates, who provide documented evidence of their disability or need for special arrangements that do not present an undue burden to the proctor and do not fundamentally alter the measurement of the knowledge the assessment is intended to test. If you require special testing arrangements, you must inform PPA of your needs via email at least four weeks prior to the scheduled test date. Please email cppmailbox@ppa.com for special accommodation requests.

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How much time should I allocate for the online exam option?

We recommend allocating about three hours from your schedule for the CPP Exam to allow time for set-up and proctor instructions prior to actually starting the test.

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What do I need to have ready to be prepared for the online exam?

1. A webcam
2. A quiet location clear of any reference material
3. Strong Internet connectivity. We recommend a hard-wired Internet connection if possible.
4. Your PPA ID
5. A valid Photo ID
6. One blank piece of scratch paper
7. A reflective surface, such as a small mirror or cell phone
8. Pocket-style or computer application calculator
9. About three hours of time blocked off on your schedule 

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What browser should I use for the online exam?

We recommend using Google Chrome. 

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Is the online exam different from the pencil-to-paper exam?

No, the exams are not different. The only difference is the setting in which you take the exam!
 

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CPP Image Submission FAQs


When can I submit my portfolio?

 Once you pass the CPP Exam, you are eligible to participate in Image Submission. There are five Image Submission periods per year. If you are an eligible candidate, you will receive an email at NOON EST on the date that the Image Submission period opens with log-in and submission instructions. You will have two weeks to upload your portfolio, giving you ample time to submit your images.

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How do I submit my portfolio?

Once you have passed the exam, you will receive an email with log-in and submission instructions. It is a secure online platform that allows us to safely collect your entries and assign them to the reviewers.

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How many images do I submit?

Each candidate is required to submit a portfolio of 15 unique images. The first six must fit within the compulsory guidelines showing a standardized technical proficiency that all professional photographers, regardless of specialty, should know. These images may come directly from some of your existing work or you can create new images specifically for the submission.

 The remaining nine images must each come from different photographic assignments in the last 24 months.

Feel free to download compulsory guidelines and view sample images to help prepare!

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How are the portfolios judged?

Images and portfolios are reviewed by a panel of CPP judges. All CPP Judges are required to attend an annual judges training course before judging commences for the year. Judges are rotated per Image Submission with a panel of 5 CPP Judges per round. CPP Judges consist of CPP Liaisons, Certification Committee members and active Certifieds in the industry.

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When and how will I receive my results?

The judging process takes two weeks. Image submission results will be sent by email approximately three weeks after the image submission deadline.

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I failed the image submission. Now what?

If your submission didn't pass, it means that either one or more of your compulsory images did not pass, or there were at least four images within the entire submission that didn't meet the standards for certification. Don't worry, you will be able to log in and review your portfolio along with the judges' comments. You may resubmit your portfolio during any future image submission.

You can resubmit images two more times at no extra cost.

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Is there a limit on the number of times I can submit my images?

You can submit images three times within your two-year candidacy. Submission cycles occur every two months. If you do not pass within these three rounds, you will be asked to reapply for candidacy for $100 (that's half the price of the initial candidacy fee) and will be able to attempt image submission an additional three times.

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Can I use "Painter" images in my submission?

"Painter" images are a creative process using programs like Photoshop or Corel Painter to digitally "paint" over a photograph. The certification program is geared specifically toward showing solid, professional, fundamental photographic skills, not digital manipulation skills. Painter images can come across as an attempt to hide flaws in the underlying photography, therefore the submission of "Painter" images in a CPP Image Submission portfolio is discouraged. 

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Can I submit images shot in natural lighting?

If that's what you do best—go for it! You need to show what you do on a daily basis, and show that you know how to skillfully use natural light, how to manipulate it, and how to get proper ratios. There is no requirement to use studio lighting.

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Can I use a mannequin?

Mannequins are not to be used for any image submission work, including compulsory images.

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What's the statement of purpose I need to submit with each image?

A simple description of the photograph is all that is required. For example, "senior portrait session on location" or "baby's first birthday session." The name of the image is part of the evaluation of the image itself, as it is part of the photographic representation.

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I passed the Image Submission and am now a Certified Professional Photographer. When will I receive my certificate?

You will receive your CPP certificate in the mail approximately three weeks after the date that you received your passing email notification.

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Can I submit images that were taken in a workshop environment or under direction of an instructor?

Images taken in a workshop environment or under direct supervision of an instructor are not allowed for image submission. All images submitted must be self-directed and individually set up. For additional questions about this topic please email cppmailbox@ppa.com.

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How can I access a previous Image Submission portfolio?

Previously submitted portfolios are only available to candidates who did not pass their image submission. To access your portfolio, please click here and log on with your PPA ID.

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