History of the CSEP ® Designation

Established in 1993, the Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) ® designation recognizes event professionals who have successfully demonstrated the knowledge, skills and ability essential to plan and execute all components of a special event.   

Benefits of the CSEP Designation

The special events industry has experienced phenomenal growth, is more challenging than ever and requires an increasing level of professionalism. The CSEP designation sets professionals apart from the competition and indicates expertise in the preparation and execution of successful special events.

CSEP benefits include:

  • Competitive Marketing Advantage:  The CSEP designation is the only certification within the meetings/incentives/conventions/expositions (MICE) industry that signifies knowledge in all facets of the special events industry. It conveys credibility and a competitive edge when marketing or soliciting business.
  • Professional Development: CSEP designees gain advanced, market-relevant events industry expertise indicating to stakeholders a career-long commitment to personal and professional development
  • Networking Opportunities: Internationally recognized CSEPs are connected to an elite global community of other highly motivated career professionals who are dedicated to promoting industry standards and professionalism.
  • Recognition: CSEPs utilize the designation as an authoritative indicator after their name and for promotion on corporate or personal communications demonstrating commitment, experience, knowledge, expertise and professionalism in a constantly evolving and increasingly competitive industry.
  • Increased exposure: Acknowledged as a prestigious international designation of professional achievement in the events industry, the CSEP distinguishes designees as knowledgeable specialists and experienced practitioners.
  • Improve Performance: Preparation for and maintenance of the CSEP designation increases special events industry knowledge, removing performance uncertainty for clients while opening market opportunities those who carry the certification.

*A recent survey from the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) reports that more than half of certification and licensures professionals said that those certified in their industry received higher compensation than those who were not.

Exam Administration

The International Special Events Society (ISES) endorses and administers the voluntary CSEP program for those who meet established standards. The CSEP examination was developed by current CSEP subject-matter experts under the guidance of a full-service international professional testing agency, Schroeder Measurement Technologies, Inc. (SMT).  Professionals at SMT ensure the integrity of the exam, and exam results, with the most appropriate psychometric and technological approaches available.

ISES Certification Committee

The ISES Certification Committee is appointed by the ISES international president to govern the program. This committee, representing the diversity that exists within the industry, supervises the voluntary CSEP certification program for those who meet established standards and serves as an important voice for stakeholders dedicated to maintaining the highest industry standards. 

Schroeder Measurement Technologies, Inc. (SMT) and ISO Quality Testing (IQT)

Schroeder Measurement Technologies, Inc. (SMT) is an independent testing company currently under contract with ISES to administer the CSEP exam. SMT is a full-service, international testing company serving the needs of licensing boards and credentialing agencies with a wide range of test development and administration services. SMT’s testing products and services are designed to serve SMT’s clients by using the most appropriate psychometric and technological approaches. ISO-Quality Testing (IQT), SMT's computer-based administration network provides testing operations and testing facilities worldwide. Visit the IQT website for more information.

Overview of the CSEP Exam


To qualify as a candidate for the CSEP exam, one must have a minimum of three (3) years of full-time professional employment in the special events industry.

Exam Structure

The CSEP is a four and one-half (4.5) hour computer-based examination.  The exam consists of two (2) parts: a 100 multiple-choice question portion and a written portion, both based on the CSEP Content Outline. The exam is only offered in English and translation into other languages is not available.

Content Outline


The CSEP Content Outline was developed based on the how relevant various industry competencies and event elements are to the daily practice of special events professionals. The CSEP exam contains questions covering the variety of functions a special events professional must perform based on the CSEP Content Outline.

The knowledge base is categorized into four (4) domain areas. The four (4) domains identify major content areas which compose the exam, with an indication in percentage of the amount of the exam that will be devoted to that domain.

Testing Periods

The exam is offered 4 times a year in 15-day windows. Once approved, candidates can take the exam.

Fees Related to the CSEP Program:





Exam Application and Registration Fee

$600 USD

Candidates are eligible to sit for the CSEP exam after application approval (see dates and deadlines for details).

Refund for Denied Exam Application

($500) USD

$500 USD will be refunded from the $600 USD exam fee if an application does not comply with exam requirements.

Exam Reschedule Fee

$0 USD

No fee is required if an exam is rescheduled at least five (5) days prior to the scheduled exam date.

Exam Cancellation Fee

$600 USD

Entire exam fee will be assessed if candidate cancels exam less than four (4) days prior to scheduled exam date.

Exam No Show Fee

$600 USD

If candidate fails to show for scheduled exam, full exam application and registration fee is forfeited.

Exam Retake Fee

$200 USD

If candidate is unsuccessful on initial exam, discounted exam fee is offered for retakes.

CSEP Recertification Fee

$200 USD

Current CSEPs are required to recertify every five (5) years on or before November 30th to maintain designation.

CSEP Recertification with Late Fee

$250 USD

If CSEP recertifies between December 1st and December 31st every 5th year, an additional $50 late fee is required.

Failure to Recertify Fee

$600 USD

To reinstate an expired CSEP designation, all exam application and registration steps must be completed.

CSEP Emeritus Fee

$300 USD

Due November 30th of the recertification year for eligible applicants (see Emeritus Status for details)

Exam Locations

The exam is held at sites worldwide.  Testing sites nearest a candidate can be found at any time on the  ISO Quality Testing site.


Candidates who earn the CSEP designation are required to recertify every five (5) years to maintain the designation (See Current CSEPs tab for further details.)