Maintaining Certification through Continuing Education
NISM Certified Professionals are required to earn a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education before their certifications expire after a period of two years in order to maintain an active certification. Once a certified professional has submitted proof of 20 hours of continuing education and paid the application fee, they will then be eligible for re-certification.
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Current CEU Opportunities
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How should I choose my continuing education courses?
Busy professionals maintaining a certification have a lot to consider as they select their classes. What format (online, in-person, blended) will work best? Are self-directed courses a good fit for my learning style? What cost is reasonable? What time of year is best for continuing education?
We’d like to encourage you to choose your courses based on what additional learning will be most helpful for your professional development. We encourage you to follow 2 specific guidelines:
- At the beginning of your 2-year re-certification period, consider what skills you might like to improve and what organizations may offer the right education for you. Considering the speed of social media, you can anticipate this will change, but you should be able to identify at least half of the courses you’d like to take well in advance.
- Commit to learning in the way that best serves you – not what is easiest or least expensive. If you know you’d get the most out of a training session you’d need to travel to, begin planning now! Time and planning are your best chances to participate in the courses that are the best fit for you. And if you know you struggle to complete materials that are self-paced or don’t stay engaged during webinars, avoid those resources or create a plan that will ensure you stay engaged.
How many hours do I need to be eligible to apply for re-certification?
All NISM Social Media Strategists need to maintain their certification with 20 hours of continuing education before their certification expires. Certifications expire two years from the date of certification.
What does it cost to get re-certified?
The cost will vary according to the re-certification path that you take. The first path is to re-certify via continuing education. In order to qualify for re-certification using this path you must first achieve 20 credit hours of continuing education within the two year time period for which you are certified. Once you have achieved your required hours, you will be directed to apply for re-certification on the NISM website. The fee for re-certification via continuing education is $135.
The second path to re-certification is through re-examination. The fee for re-examination during your certification period is $195, and since the examination will be updated during your certification period you will be required to pass the certification exam to gain re-certification. Those who take the exam and fail will not achieve re-certification.
What types of continuing education are available to me?
There are many types of continuing education that may qualify for continuing education hours:
- Live Classes
- Research & Studies
We are continually looking for additional opportunities for our community. We have provided a list of pre-approved courses and have many options available through our Continuing Education Center.
Rather than completing continuing education, can I re-take the certification exam?
Yes, you can re-take the certification exam for a fee of $195, and since the examination will be updated during your certification period you will be required to pass the certification exam to gain re-certification. Those who take the exam and fail will not achieve re-certification. If you wish to choose this re-certification path please contact us, as you will need to re-apply for the exam using a unique code to get the discounted exam fee. Please note that if you do not apply for re-certification before your certification expiration date, you will be charged the normal $395 exam voucher fee.
What if my re-certification expires?
We understand that things happen and don’t go as planned. To accommodate this, we offer a two-week grace period, meaning you are still able to submit your recertification application within two weeks from the expiration date without penalty. Should you need more time, you also have the option to request a 3-month extension, which will cost $100. This is in addition to the cost of the recertification path you choose – 20 hours of CEU ($135.00) or retaking the exam ($195.00).
Do continuing education events need to be focused upon any particular topics?
Yes. Not all events or activities that you submit will be approved. The events and activities that are submitted must fall under one or more of the following social media subject areas to be approved:
- Social Media Strategy
- Compliance & Governance
- Social Media Marketing
- Project & Campaign Management
- Community Management
- Research & Analysis
In addition, any hours that are deemed rudimentary in nature by the NISM advisory committee may not be approved. This means that submitted continuing education hours involving or limited to basic principles may not be accepted. For example, a one-hour webinar about the “Basics of Social Media” would not be acceptable. Instead consider a webinar about “Intermediate Social Media Marketing Techniques,” as such an event would very likely count toward your total continuing education hours.
Also, despite the fact that your certification is based on strategic content, advanced technical skill courses will be considered. For example, if LinkedIn began offering a tool comparable to Facebook Live, you could complete a course for continuing education credit to help you understand how the new tool works. It is extremely likely that you’d use that knowledge in your strategic work, so it is a great addition to your continuing education plan.
How many continuing education credit hours are needed to maintain my certification?
All NISM Social Media Strategists need to maintain their certification with 20 credit hours of continuing education before their certification expires. Certifications expire two years from the date of certification.
What counts as one credit hour?
How credit hours are tracked will vary. All NISM continuing education courses that have credit hours available are clearly indicated in the course description.
All non-NISM courses will need pre-approval before being accepted as a viable source of continuing education. There are many pre-approved courses and events on our website, so it’s a good idea to look there in case your course or event is already pre-approved. Failure to seek pre-approval may result in the nullification of a course submission. Please note there is a maximum of 5 credits per individual submission (meaning you must complete at least 4 separate continuing education entries).
- Webinars – Webinars can be difficult to assess, but are usually calculated as a 1:1 ratio of webinar length to credit hour. For example, a one-hour webinar would usually count as 1 CEU. However, active engagement in a webinar can be difficult to demonstrate and should be carefully considered.
- In-person (Residential) Classes – Typically, live classes count as a 1:1 hour in the classroom to credit hour ratio. However, only the hours where material is presented count. For example, if a course has a luncheon component or pre-work, those activities would not usually be counted.
- Online Asynchronous Courses (no live sessions) – We follow the guideline of 1 credit hour for every 10 hours we estimate students will spend working on course materials.
- Online Synchronous Courses (all live sessions) – Typically, online synchronous courses count as a 1:1 hour in the classroom to credit hour ratio. However, only the hours where material is presented count. For example, if a course has a luncheon component or pre-work, those activities would not usually be counted.
- Online Blended Courses (live sessions and self-directed work) – We follow the guideline of 1 credit hour for every 1 live hour in the course, plus 1 credit hour for every 10 hours we estimate students will spend working on course materials with a maximum of 5 credits per course.
- Conferences – Typically conferences count as a 1:1 hour in the classroom to credit hour ration. However, only the hours where material is presented count. For example, an 8 hour conference may begin with a 90-minute mixer, include a one-hour lunch, and have a total of six 15-minute breaks throughout the event. This would only leave four hours of actual classroom time and would, therefore, only count at 4 CEU’s.
- Research & Writing – We want to encourage social media professionals to research and write about advancements in the field, but assigning credit hours to that kind of work can be very challenging. For that reason, we do require unique research plans to be submitted and approved for each project. Typically, we follow the guideline of 1 credit hour for every meeting or focus group related to the research project and 1 credit hour for every 10 hours spent researching and writing outside of those meetings with a cap of 5 CEU’s per project and a requirement that the work be original and published through a reputable organization.
What constitutes active engagement in a continuing education course?
Active engagement will vary depending on course content, delivery, and the opportunities presented to the student. Similarly, because of these differences, active engagement can be difficult to measure. here are a few of the more common approaches, but if you have specific questions, please reach out to the NISM team.
- Assessment score. Successful completion of an assessment would indicate that the participant was actively engaged in the course by demonstrating their understanding of the content presented.
- Activity tracking. Screenshots or reports proving activity in a course (e.g., posts on discussion boards, the viewing of video) would indicate that the participant was completing required tasks within the course and was, therefore, actively engaged.
- Completion certificate. A completion certificate awarded by the agency hosting the course indicates the participant has met whatever the course requirements are and would, therefore, indicate active engagement to the extent required for the course.
- NISM course pre-approval. If the course is completed through NISM, completion requirements are outlined at the beginning of the course and participants who meet those requirements will receive confirmation from the course instructor of active engagement. That confirmation note will serve as proof that the participant met the expectations of the course.
How do I prove that I completed my continuing education?
When you submit your continuing education form, you’ll be asked to indicate what proof of completion was available. This varies depending on the provider and the delivery mechanism, but a few of the most common are:
- An assessment (graded quizzes, final test, etc.) completed with a score of 70% or higher (unless a different passing score is indicated by the assessment tool)
- An assignment completed successfully (portfolio, presentation, etc.)
- A completion certificate (indicating completion date and total hours)
Progress tracking (e.g., an online course that shows a progress bar that you can screenshot)
- Progress tracking (e.g., an online course that shows a progress bar that you can screenshot)
When considering evidence of successful completion, it’s important to consider two things. First, what can you offer to demonstrate that you actively participated in the course? Second, what demonstrates that you successfully met the requirements of the course? If you can answer both of those questions, you are in the best possible position for approval.
How do I record and track my continuing education?
To track your continuing education, you are asked to utilize a CEU Tracker or an Excel spreadsheet where you can keep track of all of your CE hours over your entire two year certification period. You can download the free CEU tracker here.
Are there ways to find pre-approved continuing education opportunities?
Yes. You can find pre-approved continuing education opportunities on the NISM website on our continuing education page. This page is intended to provide you with opportunities that we have selected from across the country to be pre-approved for continuing education hours. You are welcome to use these activities, or you are welcome to find events of your own that align with the types of continuing education listed in the question above. Just make sure to upload any documentation from the outside event to your tracking system. We may verify this documentation when you apply for re-certification.
Can I teach a continuing education course?
Yes. The National Institute for Social Media offers social media professionals the place to create, market and deliver training programs to an audience of certified professionals who are looking for opportunities to continue their learning. Email our CEO, Jennifer Radke, at [email protected] to express an interest in teaching a continuing education or NISM SMS prep course through NISM. If your class is approved, we will work with your schedule, and help you bring the class to market. We’ll even offer you support with registrations and collecting tuition.
Do I have to submit proof of completion for every continuing education course?
Many re-certification applications are randomly selected to be fully verified. While your re-certification may not be selected, you should always assume it could be and be prepared to provide complete records upon request.
If your re-certification application is randomly selected, you will receive a list of courses that need additional verification. All NISM courses can be verified without additional paperwork, but proof of completion will likely be required for all other courses.
Is continuing education required in order to keep my certification from expiring?
All NISM-certified professionals can choose to either maintain their certification through continuing education or by re-taking the certification exam. One of those two paths is required for all of our certified professionals in order to avoid expiration by being approved for re-certification.