ISSP Certification FAQ

Browse the brief sections below to find the answers to your questions.

Getting Started

About the ISSP Exams

About ISSP Certification


Getting Started

What does ISSP stand for?

ISSP stands for the International Society of Sustainability Professionals.

ISSP is a member-driven professional association for sustainability professionals and is moving the profession of sustainability forward by leading the design and delivery of the ISSP Certification program.

What is ISSP Certification?

ISSP Certification provides third-party validation of a sustainability professional’s knowledge and skill set. The program has been designed by sustainability professionals for sustainability practitioners, through global collaboration and expertise. An individual with ISSP Certification has demonstrated competency and knowledge of needed sustainability skills.

What concepts are covered on the exams?

The ISSP Certification exams are based upon the Job Task Analysis that was derived from ISSP’s competency research project conducted in 2010 and generated through a multi-stakeholder process in 2013. This research resulted in the focus of six core competency areas required for a sustainability practitioner. Those competency areas are:

  • Core Sustainability Concepts
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Plan
  • Implement
  • Evaluate
  • Adjust

Each of the six competencies is further broken into specific related job tasks. These tasks and the associated knowledge required to perform them comprises the exam content outline.

What certifications are available?

There are two levels of ISSP Certification available to sustainability practitioners.

Once certified, what acronym can I add to my name and resume?

Sustainability Associates may use the acronym ISSP-SA and Certified Sustainability Professionals may use the acronym ISSP-CSP. Certified practitioners should include the hyphen between both sets of acronyms.

What are the eligibility requirements?

The first step for all candidates is the Sustainability Associate exam. ISSP recommends that candidates taking the Sustainability Associate exam have exposure to key sustainability concepts through education and training.

Candidates taking the Certified Sustainability Professional exam must pass the Sustainability Associate exam, provide information about degrees or training from an accredited institution or ISSP Education Partner, and provide three professional references to document work experience.

Back to top

About the ISSP Exams

What are the costs of the ISSP exams?

The pricing structure for the ISSP exams is broken down by whether a candidate is or is not a member of the ISSP organization.

Cost of ISSP-SA Exam

  • ISSP Member: $175
  • Non-member: $350

Cost of ISSP-CSP Exam

  • ISSP Member: $250
  • Non-member: $450

There will be a discount for AASHE members with an AASHE institution email address. While there is currently no student rate for the exams, there is a student rate for ISSP membership ($75) that could help qualify a student for an ISSP member exam rate.

What is the ISSP exam format?

The ISSP Certification exams are multiple choice with each question requiring a single correct answer. The exams are closed-book and do not allow for any breaks.

The ISSP Sustainability Associate exam features 75 questions and must be completed within 2 hours. The ISSP Certified Sustainability Professional exam has 100 questions and must be completed within 2.5 hours.

The exams include both scored and unscored questions. All questions are delivered randomly throughout the exam, and candidates are not informed of a question's status, so candidates should respond to all the questions on the exam. Unscored questions are used to gather performance data to inform whether the question should be scored on future exams.

How is the ISSP exam administered?

The exam is digital and available through Kryterion, a third-party testing center with over 900 locations worldwide. Candidates will create an account on the Webassessor system to purchase and schedule exams.

Candidates will be able to take the exam in a live proctored environment or via online remote proctoring. The online option requires that a candidate has an external webcam.

When can I take the ISSP exam?

The exams for ISSP Sustainability Associate and ISSP Certified Sustainability Professionals are open on a rolling basis. Candidates can schedule their exam(s) any time with this open-season availability.

How do I register for the exam?

Candidates can register for the exam through the ISSP website, where they will be re-directed to a Kryterion Testing Center portal. Candidates will be directed to create an account with the Kryterion Webassessor platform and continue through the fields to pick a testing format (live or online) and schedule a testing appointment.

The Webassessor platform is owned by Kryterion Testing Centers, not ISSP, so ISSP members will need to create a new account separate from their ISSP membership account.

Due to the additional eligibility requirements for the ISSP-CSP level, candidates will need to complete an application and demonstrate that they've met the prerequisites.

What is the passing score?

Because the ISSP Certification program was designed following the internationally recognized ISO 17024 standard, candidates will only receive a pass/fail score instead of a numerical score. Candidates won't know which questions they got right or wrong.

The ISSP Certification exams are "criteria-based" exams and are scored in terms of whether a candidate meets the minimum competency required to be a sustainability professional. The exams are not "norm-referenced" and are not intended to be used to "rank" candidates so providing candidates with a percentage score would give the impression that a candidate that scored higher was more qualified than a candidate who scored lower. As a result, ISSP is not able to provide any information about the score achieved by any particular candidate.

Will there be a retake fee if you fail the exam?

Yes, candidates will need to pay again to retake the test if they don’t pass it.

Will there be an official hard-copy certificate awarded?

No, there will not be a hard-copy certificate awarded. ISSP will issue a PDF (electronic) certificate.

Back to top

About ISSP Certification

Does ISSP Certification expire or need to be renewed?

Yes, ISSP Certification is valid for 2 years. Credential holders will pay a fee and submit an application for renewal that documents their continuing education efforts.

  • ISSP-SA Credential Holders - need 20 CEUs over 2 years
  • ISSP-CSP Credential Holders - need 40 CEUs over 2 years

If a candidate lets his/her certification lapse, he/she will have to re-apply and go through the entire certification process again.

What qualifies as ISSP continuing education?

Candidates will be required to demonstrate continuous learning through activities such as ISSP membership, educational and professional activities, work experience, publications, etc.

How much does it cost to renew ISSP Certification?

The renewal fee for ISSP-SA certification is $75 for ISSP members and $150 for non-members. The renewal fee for ISSP-CSP is $100 for ISSP members and $200 for non-members. One may only renew the highest level credential received.

How is ISSP Certification different from LEED?

ISSP is not trying to duplicate any of the tests that are out there. They want to test about key skills for sustainability professionals. LEED is all about green buildings. ISSP Certification is much more broad in its range of knowledge. There's way more to sustainability than just green buildings.

The ISSP credentialing process is very similar to LEED, but the knowledge and skill set is different.

What are the benefits of ISSP Certification?

You can be one of the first to claim an ISSP Certification! The benefits of this certification program are akin to that of any professional certification program (more marketable, increased salary, better employment opportunities, etc.)

Back to top

I'm ready to become an ISSP Sustainability Associate

Go back to the Sustainability Overview main page.