Ask from the Community: In research conducted in 2022, AIGA found that professional certification was a desired development for the future. In fact, about 90% of the community that had a point of view of the topic said they would be interested in an AIGA professional certification.
Advocacy for the Profession: Professional groups and organizations that have a professional certification program tend to have more presence among decision makers—HR professionals, for example, are five times more likely to be at the leadership table than design professionals (2021 AIGA Design POV Research). Benchmarking studies have shown that professional certification programs significantly contribute to professionals in that industry having a more strategic function.
Inclusive Pathway: A certification is an inclusive pathway that allows for both traditional and nontraditional backgrounds to be included in the profession. For those where a four year degree is not a current option, or for those that have learned the craft in action and are looking to validate their professional status, the professional certification allows for entry into the profession. It also helps to create a common language and body of knowledge for design foundations that can serve as a baseline for designers.
Professional Development: A certification helps fill knowledge gaps needed for the future advancement of the design profession. Also, professional development and lifelong learning are critical for design professionals and to advance the profession.
Differentiation: A certification will help designers show their commitment to the profession. It will also help recruiters and hiring managers to identify individuals that follow best practices, who have a strong commitment to learning and to the professional practice, and creates accountability to both learning and ethics.
Career Advancement: Professional certification is shown to be a valuable credential for career advancement and it is preferred or required for jobs in many professions. Certified professionals in other disciplines that have adopted such an approach usually have higher labor force participation and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, get paid more (35 percent higher earnings).
The new AIGA Professional Design Certification takes the learning and professional development program one step further allowing designers to demonstrate their commitment to standards of professional practice, professional development, and to the growth and advancement of the design profession.
The Certification program is customized (not only curated) with specific design content, design case studies related to business, law, and ethics. It also includes design subject matter experts.
There is a verifiable digital badging system available for those that complete the program which can be displayed on websites, social media channels (e.g., LinkedIn), and other online locations.
AIGA Professional Design Certification includes a professional portfolio assessment step in addition to a knowledge/learning assessment phase and this final step in the process validates not only knowledge but also practical professional skills.
AIGA Professional Design Certification also requires commitment to lifelong learning and the standards of professional practice.
To earn the AIGA Professional Design Certification, one needs to take the following steps:
Step 1–A knowledge/learning assessment which includes both a learning and assessment component (AIGA Professional Foundations Certificate).
Step 2–A professional practice assessment via AIGA Professional Portfolio Assessment which includes two levels based on typical design careers:
AIGA Professional Designer (AIGA PD)
Ideal for individual practitioners focused on the craft.
- At least 1 year of professional experience in design
AIGA Design Leader (AIGA DL)
Ideal for individuals in design leadership.
- At least 7 years of professional experience in design
- Leadership development program completed (for 2023, pilot year, this requirement will be fulfilled with participation in AIGA Executive Leadership Summit or AIGA Design Conference)
Step 3–Demonstrate an ongoing commitment to learning and to AIGA standards of professional practice and the code of conduct demonstrated through annual recertification.
Everyone is eligible for Step 1 of the AIGA Professional Design Certification. Step 2 has professional experience criteria based on the desired level of certification and one can apply as soon as minimum requirements are achieved. Resumes and submission of documentation will be required when applying for Step 2 to guarantee compliance with minimum eligibility requirements.
A design educator can apply for the certification. Educators should choose between AIGA Design Leader (AIGA DL) or AIGA Professional Designer (AIGA PD) based on their professional experience and the eligibility criteria.
There are no prerequisites to participate in the certificate portion (Step 1) of the AIGA Professional Design Certification program. AIGA Professional Designer (AIGA PD) and AIGA Design Leader (AIGA DL) have professional experience as prerequisites and one would need to comply with such prerequisites to apply.
The estimated time to complete Step 1 (the certificate portion of the professional certification) is 30 hours. Learners will have up to one year to complete Step 1. The portfolio assessment phase (Step 2) can be completed up to one year after completion of Step 1 and should take an estimated 30 hours of preparation to submit documentation for the portfolio assessment and to participate in the portfolio assessment.
For 2023, the pilot year of the program, the portfolio assessment phase will be organized in windows with Design Leaders being able to take the assessment in-person in March (during AIGA Executive Leadership Summit) or October (during AIGA Design Conference), 2023. Professional Designers will be able to take the assessment virtually in the second week of June or second week of November, 2023.
In 2023, there will be limited seats available to apply for the AIGA Professional Assessment with only 60 seats available per window for the Design Leader level and only 120 seats available per window for the Professional Designer level.
You will need to renew your certification every year if you wish to continue using the AIGA Professional Design Certification badge and the letters (AIGA PD or AIGA DL) after your name.
The recertification process will have a nominal administrative fee and you will be required to submit a summarized professional development plan with:
- Career goals for the next three to five years
- Summary of learning in previous cycle with reflection of how it connects to career goals
- Learning goals for next cycle with reflection of how it connects to career goals
Examples of types of learning are:
- Professional membership
There will be no additional courses required to recertify. Applications will be randomly selected for review in which case you will be invited to a conversation with the AIGA learning team to share your career goals and learning (summary and goals).
You may request a refund up to five (5) days from the purchase date. The registration fee will only be refunded if less than 10% of the course has been completed. Completion percentage can be viewed on the Course Progress page from within the course.