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August 06, 2004

What's a CAE?

I'm so glad you asked!

Here's my explanation. CAE stands for "Certified Association Executive." It's a credential for the association management profession that validates (or certifies) an individual's base knowledge of running all aspects of a nonprofit association. Certainly there are specialties within the association profession (lobbying, communications, membership, adult education, etc.), but the CAE designation is generally accepted within the association community as meaning you know enough about associations to run one. In fact, 56% of all CAEs are chief executive officers in their respective associations.

The CAE designation is managed and issued by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE; the association for people who work for associations). In order to take the CAE exam, one must have requisite levels of experience and education. Upon graduating from college, I had the requisite academic education, but in order to qualify to sit for the exam, I also had to supplement my college education with 75 hours of continuing education in the association management field. Getting 75 hours really wasn't a big deal. It works out to less than three full days of education per year. The hardest part of becoming eligible was getting five years of association management experience under my belt. Having recently passed five years of association work, I decided to go for my CAE (my decision to test will be the subject of my next post).

So, that's my take on what the CAE is. For a more authoritative definition, visit ASAE's CAE page.

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