Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS)
-- a new professional credential intended to recognize the contributions of non-counselors who have mastered a variety of roles within the field of career services.
Are you ready to apply?
First, read the FAQ's below and the "CMCS Study Guide".
What is the Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS) credential?
This credential is intended for non-counselors who have mastered a variety of roles within the field of career services. Examples of these roles are senior consultant, professional coach, senior advisor, senior workforce practitioner, master trainer, executive recruiter, and master resume writer.
Who is eligible for the CMCS?
To apply for the CMCS credential, an applicant must be able to successfully document the completion of a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree (any major/discipline) and 7 years of full time (14,000 hours) work experience OR a Master’s degree (or higher) and 5 years of full time (10,000 hours) work experience. The work experience used to satisfy this application requirement must be in the field of career services/development.
Learn more about the CMCS:
The MCS and MCDP were simply a membership designation developed by NCDA. Although these designations were intended for non-counselors with strong academic and professional experience, they were never backed by any formal process to verify and validate an individual’s level of competency in providing career services. Several years ago, the MCDP was revised and became the MCS. The MCS designation was discontinued in early 2018 and members should no longer use this inactive designation. The new CMCS credential will assess competency through a formal application procedure.
The CMCS credential is based on the CMCS Domains of Practice. Applicants will be asked to demonstrate a comprehensive level of understanding surrounding the domains of practice, by providing necessary documentation and completing 4 scenarios. This material will then be assessed, via rubric, by a qualified reviewer.
The CMCS Domains of Practice include the following:
- Career - providing services (guidance and support) to clients/students:
1.1 Career Management: current print and technological resources and strategies to successfully launch, progress, ascend or transition in a career path
1.2 Identity Clarification/Promotion: identifying an individual’s unique value (discreet skills, strengths, and achievements) and developing strategies to communicate a value based profile to one’s professional network and prospective employers;
1.3 Work-Life Synergy: identifying areas of interest and providing guidance on creating a balanced approach to link one’s interests to a full spectrum of activities (school, career, family, friendships, community, spirituality, advocacy, recreation, and hobbies)
- Relationships (assisting the client/student):
2.1 Relationship Mediation: coping with the needs and demands of important people in one’s life; such as family, friends, peers, direct reports, and managers; while satisfying one’s personal needs
2.2 Talent Development: identifying, cultivating and promoting others to assure their career satisfaction
2.3 Service Coordination (aka Case Management): offering professional guidance on the appropriate department, vendor or professional to be engaged for specific services and support;
2.4 Cultural Competence: awareness and knowledge about self and others, and how this understanding is applied effectively to assist students and clients in their educational and work settings *
2.5 Diversity and Inclusion: the similarities and differences that occur within and across groups and cultures, and the intersection of cultural and social identities *
- Program Development
3.1 Content/Curriculum: selecting and promoting credible, timely resources and techniques
3.2 Logistics and Oversight: contributing to the successful operation of programs offering career related content (this may span design, promotion, staffing, and supervision)
4.1 Making Ethical Choices: recognizing situations that present ethical dilemmas and negotiating situations that career services present while adhering to the defined ethics of our field
4.2 Modeling Ethical Behavior: embracing scope and standards of practice and conduct, while setting a positive example for students, clients, peers, and direct reports.
* adapted from the 2015 NCDA Code of Ethics Glossary
The Program Management domain will be assessed via the candidate's professional references.
The application is online. The application includes these steps:
- Contact & Demographic Information - Tell us how to reach you and give us demographic information that can be used for research purposes. This information is not shared with the reviewer.
- Upload a diploma or transcript - Upload a copy of your diploma or a transcript for your highest degree.
- Upload a resume or curriculum vita and complete work experience form - If your highest degree is a bachelor’s degree, the resume/vita that you upload must document that you have at least 7 years of full-time work experience in the career services field. If your highest degree was a master’s degree or higher, the resume/vita that you upload must document that you have at least 5 years of full-time work experience in the career services field.
- References - Three references are required. You provide the email addresses of your References. An email will be sent to each person with a link to a Reference Form. After each online Reference Form is completed, it will be automatically placed in your application.
- Attestations - You will be asked to attest that your work is your own, that your answers are correct, and that you have read the NCDA Code of Ethics and will abide by it. Click here to read the NCDA Code of Ethics now.
- Application Fee - The application fee is $145. Individuals whose applications are denied will not receive a refund. Fees are collected by PayPal.
- Complete the CMCS Scenarios - After you complete and “submit” the above information, four real world scenarios will appear on your application. Each of these four scenarios must be completed in a single sitting. Once the scenario is displayed on your screen, you must complete your response within 60 minutes. A credible response will likely be 2-4 paragraphs of focused content outlining your assessment of and proposed action steps for the specific scenario. You may not receive assistance from any other party or use outside resources. After completing each scenario, you may stop and return later to your application.
- Verification by NCDA staff - NCDA staff will verify that all information has been completed and you have met the requirements. Your application will then be sent to a reviewer.
- Blind Review - Your responses to the scenarios will be sent to a professional trained as a reviewer. The reviewer will not receive any identifying information about you. The reviewer will score your responses. The review process typically takes three weeks to complete.
- Certification -Once your application has been reviewed, you will receive notice by email. If you pass, your certificate will be included. The certification is valid for three years. To maintain the credential, you must pay an annual maintenance fee and recertify at the end of the three-year period.
The CMCS is a practitioner level credential, meaning that it is designed to assess competency in the delivery of services across the CMCS Domains of Practice. The best advice would be to adopt the mindset of sitting in session with your student or client and discussing suggested resources, action steps and outcomes with the student/client during this session. We want you to draw upon your everyday experience to formulate your real world response to each scenario, write your response from this perspective. As soon as you click the icon to accept/start a scenario, you must complete that scenario within the 60 minutes allowed. If you wish, you may then log out of your application, in FluidReview, and then log back in later (as your schedule permits) to complete the next scenarios.
Scenario 1 aligns with the Career domain. Scenario 2 aligns with the Relationship domain (specifically, sub-domains Relationship Mediation, Talent Development and Service Coordination). Scenario 3 aligns with the Relationship domain (specifically, sub-domains Cultural Competence and Diversity/Inclusion). Scenario 4 aligns with the Ethics Domain.
You may complete your application as your time allows. The online application lists each of the steps, with their status. You can log in at any time and see how much more you need to do. Some steps may take longer than others. For example, after you provide an email address for a reference, that person needs to respond before that step is completed. You can log into your record at any time and see which items still need to be completed. For the scenarios, remember, once you elect to start a scenario, you must complete your response for that scenario within 60 minutes. Incomplete records will be deleted after a year.
A supervisor, manager, Chair, Dean (or higher), or peer (of equal academic and professional standing) may serve as a reference for a CMCS applicant.
Those who do not pass their first attempt at the CMCS scenarios may retest with a new question or questions within one month. If the retest is also unsuccessful, the applicant must wait one year to reapply.
Once awarded a credential, the certificant must pay an annual fee of $40.00. The certification will be in effect for a three (3) year period. The certificant must complete thirty (30) continuing education contact hours in career development by the end of this 3-year period (essentially 10 hours per year). During this 3-year period, your online record will be available to you, so that you can log your continuing education activity. At the end of this period, you will be notified that it is time to renew and have an opportunity to add any continuing education hours you may need. Recertification will be automatic if fees are paid annually and sufficient hours have been earned.
The Commission has established a vetting process to recommend learning and training activities specific to career development (counseling, coaching, consulting, workforce development, recruiting, resume writing, personal branding, interviewing, etc.). Please see the Credentialing Commission's 2018 Continuing Education Manual.
Here are a few tips to help you through the online credential application process:
- The first step is to create a record for yourself. Click on the application link below and click “Sign Up” under “Need an Account?”
- The page you reach is called the Home page. Complete the Contact & Demographic Info step.
- Then choose a credential. Click the green button called “View Credentials” and select one.
- Back on the Home page, click on the Application ID (in blue) to see the tasks needed for the application.
- You will need to upload some files. In this software, after you upload a file, you will see a picture of the file you uploaded. On that page, choose “Back.”
- The process of applying for a credential has 2 major parts: complete the Application, then complete the Assessment (4 Scenarios). You cannot see the second part until the Application has been completed, submitted and approved by Commission staff. After you receive notification of an "approved" Application, click again on the Application ID and you will have access to the 4 Scenarios.
Find out what your peers are saying about earning their CMCS credential!
Before beginning your application, we highly recommend that you review the new "CMCS Study Guide".
Please note: you will be leaving the NCDA website and will be directed to FluidReview to create a new account within the FluidReview system. Your NCDA login will not work with the credentialing application system.