Open Letter Regarding the Spring, 2008 AICP Testing Cycle
I am writing to you in your capacity as President of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). I took the Comprehensive Planning Exam (CPE) this Spring. I did not look forward to this examination, nor do I believe that an AICP certification is at all indicative of abilities as a planner, nor do I believe that all AICP
members conduct themselves in a professional manner. Nonetheless, my chosen profession places a premium on such certifications, and I felt that I am young enough that the certification could be beneficial to me as I go forth with my career.
As I am sure that you are aware, typically the AICP exam lets you know immediately afterwards whether or not you passed. This practice has been in place since the tests began to be administered electronically. However, this particular testing cycle, us fortunate ones will not find out our results in a timely fashion. We have to wait until "August", for an undetermined date, due to new questions being added to the exam (a practice which I, nor any other planner, should oppose). For this honor, of being AICP's guinea pigs, we were made to take a longer exam, have to expend more time studying and wait up to four months to know the result of our exams.
There is no known benefit to this situation for the test takers, who each paid up to $450 for this honor, the same cost as previous members who were able to know the results immediately afterwards. There is, however, a tangible and significant cost to this situation to the test takers.
A primary motivation in taking the exam is higher salaries or more income. For those of us that are employees, it may mean a step up in pay. For those of us that are proprietors, it may mean increased consulting opportunities. The salary difference noted in the most recent AICP salary survey was $18,000 annually between those with AICP certification and those without. Perhaps there is some delay in these opportunities, and perhaps some of this is due to experience, as
indicated on the salary survey, but all of those qualified to sit for the exam have more experience than an entry-level planner, and are certainly due for some increased income due to certification.
Using a very simple calculation, this delay costs the test takers, those that financed the exam, who will be the future dues-paying members of the AICP, up to $6,000 each in potential lost wages (and, at approximately 600 applicants, up to maybe $2,400,000 in total lost wages) or income; for the newest AICP members, those in need of the increased income the most! All this PLUS if we pass, we get a pro-rated bill for that time we were AICP members but not able to use the designation for possible additional income or wages!
I am sure that this fact has not escaped you prior to receiving this letter. We were offered no rebates, no remorse, nothing to indicate that the AICP acknowledges this large amount of possible lost income to its constituents. Perhaps a gesture of good will would be to offer a year of free membership to those who have passed, and free registration for a subsequent to those who did not pass.
I will still be proud to call myself an AICP member if I have passed, and will adhere to all codes and conduct rules fully, just as I am proud to be an American in spite of some situations that my government has gotten themselves into which I disagree with. I just wish that an organization that I wish to be a part of would do better by its own future constituents than has been done up to this point.