How CAE Certification Changed Lee Claassen’s Career

by Mallory Robinson, Account Associate

The Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential is the marker of a committed association professional who has demonstrated the wide range of knowledge essential to manage an association in today’s challenging environment. To obtain this prestigious certification, you must have at least five years experience in the industry, obtain 100 hours of broad-based, association management-related professional development, and then pass a four-hour examination.

Though obtaining this certification isn’t easy, Lee Claassen knew it would help her serve her clients better. She was kind enough to answer a few questions and share some helpful tips!

IMI: How long have you had your CAE certification?

Lee: I obtained my CAE in 2003.

IMI: What tips do you have for anyone who is working towards earning the CAE certification?

Lee: The requirements have changed since I sat for the CAE exam, but my number one piece of advice is to keep a record of every association management-related professional development activity in which you participate. Once you decide to work towards obtaining your CAE, you’ll need to build a bank of continuing education credits needed to sit for the exam. Also, read something every day that’s related to association management, whether it’s a blog, an article, a book chapter, etc. – work it into your daily routine. Finally, definitely plan to participate in an exam prep course. Don’t think you can cram overnight and pass!

IMI: How has having your CAE certification helped you in your career?

Lee: It helped me realize all the things I didn’t know that I didn’t know. It opened my eyes to all the nuances of the profession that I might not have been exposed to. Additionally, it helped me make connections and establish relationships that I may not have otherwise.

To potential employers, it sends the message that you are committed to ongoing professional development and continual self-improvement (education has to continue in order to maintain the CAE). In a competitive job market, it can be an employer’s deciding factor between you and another candidate without a CAE.

IMI: Anything else you think would be helpful for anyone that is working toward this designation?

Lee: Knowing and studying the content for the exam is important, but half the prep is learning how to take the exam. Put yourself in the shoes of the chief staff officer of a large association when answering the questions.

Are you tired of guessing what your association’s next move should be? Contact IMI to see how our association professionals leverage their expertise to achieve your association’s goals. Schedule a meeting today!

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