What is AIRS Certification?
AIRS Certification is a professional credentialing program for individuals working within the I&R sector of human services.
Certification is a measurement of documented ability in the field of I&R reflecting specific competencies and related performance criteria, which describe the knowledge, skills, attitudes and work-related behaviors needed by I&R practitioners to successfully execute their duties. The AIRS Certification Program is operated in alignment with the standards provided by the National Organization for Competency Assurance.
Certification is available for three specializations within I&R. Individuals who successfully pass the AIRS certification examination are awarded a certificate, lapel pin and may use the following credentials after their names:
- CIRS — Certification for I&R Specialists
- CIRS-A — Certification for I&R Specialists in Aging
- CRS — Certification for Resource Specialists
As of June 2009, nationwide there are 1,615 CIRS, 1,249 CIRS-A, and 247 CRS specialists.
Who can become AIRS Certified?
Candidates may apply to take the certification examination once they are eligible. Eligibility is based on I&R and equivalent experience combined with educational background.
- At least 1 year of employment in I&R for applicants with a Bachelors or higher degree
- 2 years of employment in I&R for applicants with an Associates/Community College degree
- 3 years of employment in I&R for applicants with a High School diploma or GED.
- 5 years of I&R experience with no educational qualifications
For part-time staff and volunteers, a "year of employment" is equivalent to 1,000 hours of continuous I&R service in order to be eligible to take the examination.
If you are having difficulty obtaining a transcript of your education, then you might find the following site useful: www.studentclearinghouse.org.
Acceptable equivalent I&R experience entails work in the field of human services that includes an I&R element such as positions in social work, discharge planning, consumer credit counseling, community health nursing, independent living skills instruction and school counseling; or employment in a homeless or domestic abuse shelter, food pantry, group home or other similar settings.
Why should I become AIRS Certified?
AIRS Certification provides a wealth of benefits to yourself, your organization and the communities you serve.
Where can I take the examination?
Certification exams are offered year round at sites across the United States and Canada and also at the AIRS Annual Training Conference. Check out current dates and locations.
How much does it cost?
The basic cost of a Certification application is:
-- $75 for AIRS members at the Basic level (with applicable discounts, this means $65 for Premium members, $68 for Enhanced members and $72 for Standard level members)
-- $225 for non-members
An examination re-take (which must be taken within 12 months of the last attempt) is:
-- $40 for AIRS members
-- $75 for non-members
-- $40 for AIRS members
-- $175 for non-members
If your organization is an AIRS member, all active staff and volunteers are covered by that membership.
How long does Certification last?
Your AIRS Certification lasts for 2 years from the time you pass the examination. Every two years, you must apply for recertification. You do not need to retake the examination to be recertified but you must submit an application that documents at least 10 hours of I&R training over that two year period.
What if I have special needs?
AIRS complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other applicable legislation by offering candidates with documented disabilities the opportunity to request necessary aids and services that do not fundamentally alter the assessment process. Please contact the AIRS headquarters office to request assistance. Applications for accommodations must be submitted at least 45 days prior to your scheduled examination date.
How do I apply? (Where's the application form??!)
The Certification/Recertification Application Form (an Interactive PDF) is for all applicants whether they are new, retaking the exam or recertifying. This application can be used for both the United States and Canadian certifications. Completed applications, supporting documentation and payment must arrive at least 30 days prior to the test date.
What else do I need to know?
Principles of the AIRS Certification Program
Information on Study Materials
Upcoming Test Dates and Locations
Composition of Examinations
How would my organization arrange to host an examination?
Application for Exam Location Approval & Proctor Requirements
Is there any other important information?
Please be aware that registration for the Illinois AIRS state conference is not the same as registration for the AIRS Certification exam.
All certification exam applications, supporting documentation and appropriate exam fees must be mailed to the AIRS National Office in Fairfax, VA, and must arrive 30 days prior to the exam.
DO NOT send your application for Certification with your Illinois AIRS state conference registration.
If an application and payment are mailed to an address other than the AIRS National Office in Fairfax, Virginia, the application will not be processed, and the applicant will be unable to sit for the exam.
Remember that recertification does not require the same 30 day notice that applies to initial certification. However, applications should be delivered before the expiration of the current certification.
And what happens if I pass?
You will receive a Certificate and a lapel pin from AIRS to recognize your achievement, and you may use CIRS, CIRS-A or CRS after your name. Your agency may also wish to issue a press release to your local newspaper (in which case here is a template that you can customize). Your agency may even wish to provide you with additional recognition!
What is the contact for more information?
Alliance of Information & Referral Systems
11240 Waples Mill Rd., Suite 200
Fairfax, VA 22030