We know what you’re thinking: “how is it back-to-school season already?!” - and we feel you on that. But let’s all take a deep breath and reframe our mindset: back-to-school season is the perfect opportunity to continue our journey to be lifelong learners. In the Parks & Rec field, one of the best ways you can develop as a professional is to get CPRP certified – and there’s no better time to dive into the reasons why. Now you may have heard those four letters being thrown around, but you have no idea where to start? We can help!
Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is CPRP? It stands for “Certified Park and Recreation Professional” and it’s one of the best ways you can level up your career in the ever-important field of Parks & Recreation. Here’s what you need to know:
- It’s designed for beginning to mid-level professionals
- The CPRP certification is valid for two years
- Currently there are 6,900 CPRPs across the United States
For the full list of eligibility requirements and fees, check out the NRPA website.
And now…✨ the five reasons you need to get CPRP certified! ✨
1) You want credit for your skillset
Your friends, family and colleagues all know how hard you work and how many hours you’ve put in, but the CPRP certification gives you official accreditation – no matter how long you’ve served in the field. “The CPRP is universally understood and respected in the park and recreation industry across the country. Whether you work for a park and recreation department in a big city or small county or a special parks district, everyone “gets” it,” says Kelli Beavers, CPRP, Director of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism for Charles County Government (Maryland). Read more of Kelli’s story here!
2) You want to get paid what you deserve (and gain an edge over other candidates)
In most fields, additional certifications mean higher salaries by virtue of the experience and knowledge that the more developed candidate brings to the table. In the public sector, we know that oftentimes salaries are mandated by the government and are hard to change. But adding CPRP to the end of your name is a huge differentiator when going up against other candidates! It could be a main reason why you get the job over someone else.
3) You want to increase your confidence at work
When you pass the CPRP test, you will feel an unmatched level of confidence at work, knowing that you can make firm decisions based on your recognized knowledge. Take it from Amber Moore, CPRP, Aquatics Supervisor for Brigham City Corporation (Utah): “After passing my exam and becoming a CPRP, I saw an almost immediate shift in my own confidence and both the volume and quality of my performance. I have more pride in my work than ever before (and before, I would have told you that the pride I take in my work was unmatched). I didn’t even expect this change within myself, but it has been the best byproduct of pursuing a CPRP certificate.” Read more of Amber’s story here!
4) You want to learn new things and do more for your community
You may have attended the NRPA Conference, participated in Lunch & Learns, or watched webinars, but you still feel there’s more to learn! With CPRP wisdom in your back pocket, you will be able to make even more of an impact in your community on a day-to-day basis by applying your new skills in staffing, programming and more. “The process of studying for the exam was arduous yet exhilarating. In each section I was able to learn something new and recall a situation in which I could apply the knowledge,” says Brooke Adams, CPRP, Administrative Assistant at Waukesha (Wisconsin) Parks, Recreation and Forestry. Read more of Brooke’s story here!
5) You want to take on a new challenge
You may have already received all the certifications necessary for your area of interest (such as youth, aquatics, parks, etc) but feel stagnant in your overall professional development. Maybe you eventually see yourself in a more senior management position where you can oversee different aspects of P&R in your community. This is where CPRP comes in! It’s the perfect opportunity to study content that will give you the generalized foundation of knowledge you need and prepare you for higher-level positions in P&R.
Here are some steps you can take right now to begin your journey toward professional development!
- Purchase a prep course or study guide (then do the practice tests!)
- Get a mentor (by reaching out to your network or even someone you admire – you never know unless you shoot your shot!)
- Do an internship (NYC Parks, Miami-Dade County and City of San Diego are offering some right now!)
- Read stories of CPRP recipients on the NRPA website
- Attend the annual NRPA conference to meet other CPRPs (hint hint: this year’s conference is coming up very soon!)
It goes without saying that the CPRP is a must-have certification for any P&R professionals who want to upskill, learn more about the field and become more self-assured at work.