As part of its commitment to promote the highest quality independent educational consulting for students and families, IECA has announced that it will integrate the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners, the nation’s leading certifying body which awards the respected Certified Educational Planner designation, into IECA’s suite of offerings.

Founded in 1976 and now 2,800 members strong, IECA is the largest and oldest organization representing independent educational consultants (IECs) who work in private practice. AICEP, founded in 1994, credentials full-time, experienced IECs and school-based college counselors. The Certified Educational Planner (CEP) designation recognizes professionals who have achieved the highest level of competence and knowledge of the independent educational counseling profession. To be awarded the CEP credential, individuals must meet stringent requirements and pass a rigorous board-certifying assessment. To retain the credential, CEPs must continue to conduct evaluative campus or site visits and participate in specified professional development activities to meet recertification requirements every five years.

More than 25 years ago, IECA helped establish the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners to promote raising standards and lifelong learning among independent educational consultants. Today, IECA’s growth and leadership have made this consolidation a natural mark of progress and uniting two leading organizations in the profession. “Particularly as we have seen state governments and agencies examining the profession, they have come to rely on IECA and AICEP as evidence of competence, ethics, and experience for families,” said Mark Sklarow, CEO of IECA. “This union will strengthen that recognition.”

Rachel Sobel, AICEP chair, explained the value the integration presents for those holding the CEP designation. “Over the past 10 years, AICEP has seen growth continue to innovate and expand. Recently, we revised our application, assessment, and recertification processes, and are working towards accreditation from a nationally recognized certifying agency. At this stage in the growth of AICEP, we need a louder voice in national and international conversations. All CEPs will benefit from a connection to a range of programs and services that will tie directly to certification and recertification. The stability and progress of AICEP will be advanced by integrating AICEP into IECA as the credentialing arm of IECA.”

Ibrahim Firat, president of the IECA Board of Directors, sees the development as a mission-driven endeavor that will enhance IECA’s standing and value. “This integration represents a significant milestone for IECA, reinforcing our commitment to professional excellence. By aligning our efforts, we solidify our position as the industry leader, amplifying our voice in collaboration with governmental agencies and media. Moreover, this effort provides our members with an additional sense of accomplishment, opening doors to expanded educational and training opportunities. It underscores our vision as the leading provider of continuing education for the entire profession,” says Firat. “Ultimately, by bringing the CEP designation into IECA’s suite of programming, parents will look to IECA membership and its certification mark as the assurance they need that the IEC they hire is knowledgeable, ethical, and offers exceptional advising.”

Dr. Steven Antonoff has headed both organizations and is considered the national leader in training those entering the independent educational consulting profession. “This is a foundational step in the evolution of our profession,” said Antonoff. “As we have grown, so too has the need to reinforce our commitment to the highest standards. By synchronizing efforts, we will have another way of telling the public that IECs are a trusted source of educational planning advice.”

The integration of AICEP and its certification program into the Independent Educational Consultants Association is slated for 2024 as both groups work to ensure a seamless implementation.

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