...the membership association for Information & Referral professionals, and the driving force behind clear and consistent professional Standards that benchmark every aspect of quality I&R.




Certification brochureWhat is AIRS Certification?

AIRS Certification background

How are the examinations created?

Who can become AIRS Certified?

Why should I become AIRS Certified?

Where can I take the examination?

How much does it cost?

What if I'm Canadian?

How long does Certification last?

What is involved with Recertification?

What if I fail to renew my Certification?

What if I have special needs?

How do I apply? (Where's the Registration form??!)

What else might I need to know?

How would my organization arrange to host an exam?

Will I learn my examination mark?

How will I find out my results?

What happens if I pass?

What happens if I do not pass?

Who do I contact for information?

 

AIRS Certification background

AIRS Certification is a professional credentialing program for individuals working within the I&R sector of human services.

Certification is a measurement of documented knowledge in the field of I&R and I&R/A 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 responsibilities. The AIRS Certification Program is operated in alignment with national standards for credentialing organizations.

Our mission states: “The AIRS Certification Program, operating in accordance with national credentialing practices, measures and recognizes competence in the I&R profession, improving the professionalism of the field and the quality of service provided to the public.”

Certification is available for three specializations within I&R. Individuals who successfully pass the AIRS certification examination are awarded professional certification and a 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

It is important to be aware that the CRS qualification involves questions relating to indexing resource databases using the Taxonomy of Human Services. Candidates who do not use the Taxonomy as part of their everyday work will find the CRS examination much more challenging.

How are the examinations created?

There is a psychometric process that begins with the creation of a Job Task Analysis and ends with the placement of exams in the field and their on-going monitoring. If you would like a more detailed story, review the process for the CIRS,  CIRS-A and CRS credentials. 

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. I&R practitioners are eligible for initial certification only for the jobs they actually perform and/or directly supervise (i.e. you can only take the examination if you are currently engaged in either CIRS, CIRS-A or CRS work). To take the exam, you require:

  • 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 employment with no educational qualifications

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 involves frontline (i.e. client-focused) 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. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the job description that covers their previous experience accurately reflects the essential elements of the Job Task Analysis for their particular credential.

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 upcoming dates and locations.

How much does it cost?

The basic cost of a Certification application is:

-- $90 for AIRS members (Standard/Premium members qualify for discounts. For example, Premium members pay only $72)
-- $250 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 

Recertification is:

-- $55 for AIRS members (with applicable membership discount, this means $44 for Premium members)
-- $200 for non-members

If your organization is an AIRS member, all active staff and volunteers are covered by that membership.

What if I'm Canadian?

There is a separate Canadian cost structure and application process that is detailed within the package provided by InformCanada

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 form that documents at least 10 hours of I&R training over that two year period.

What is involved with Recertification?

As stated above, you must apply every two years and submit a form that includes 10 documented hours of I&R training. These do not have to be CEUs (although CEUs are fine), as a wide range of training is acceptable (for example, online training, conference workshops, in-house training, etc.). The key is that you must document the date/time of the event, the name/position of the instructor and the learning objectives of the training activity.

What if I fail to renew my Certification?

If you do not renew, then you lose your Certification. We will respond to inquiries saying that you do not hold AIRS Certification. If you wish to regain Certification, you will have to apply to take and pass the examination.

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 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 might I need to know?

Please be aware that registration for your local Affiliate 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, Virginia, and must arrive 30 days prior to the exam. DO NOT send your application for Certification with your 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 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. 

Here are some other useful documents and links:

How would my organization arrange to host an examination?

Will I learn my examination mark?

No. This is not a normal practice in certification programs. There is only Pass and Fail. If you do not pass, you will receive a coaching report of how you performed in the areas of the exam.

How will I find out my results?

You will receive your results by email within 10 working days (the variation is dependent on the number of exams occuring within the same time period).

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 happens if I do not pass?

You can be provided upon request with a breakdown of your scores in the various subject elements. You can then re-take the examination  for a $40 fee within 12 months of your original test (there is no need to resubmit educational back-up when applying for a re-take exam).

Who do I contact for information?

Certification Manager
Alliance of Information & Referral Systems
11240 Waples Mill Rd., Suite 200
Fairfax, VA 22030
703-218-AIRS, ext.201
Fax 703-359-7562
certification@airs.org


 
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