Systems Engineering Certification

Demonstrating knowledge and experience in the practice of Systems Engineering

About the Certification Program 

Which certification level is right for me?  

ASEP

The Certification Program offers the Associate Systems Engineering Professional (ASEP) that recognizes individuals who wish to be recognized as knowledgeable but without demonstrated SE experience. The qualification for the ASEP is possession of SE knowledge typical of a junior systems engineer, as evidenced by passing the knowledge exam.

 

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ASEP

CSEP

The Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP) recognizes systems engineering practitioners who have demonstrated knowledge and experience in many aspects of the discipline. The qualifications for this level include education, SE knowledge, and SE experience that serve various job profiles of an experienced, all-round systems engineer.

A CSEP should be capable of carrying out systems engineering tasks in many work situations based on the certified knowledge basis, which includes the insight to recognize domain and role specific practices within the overall context of the systems engineering discipline. Thus, the certified practitioner should be capable of practicing in a broad range of domains including military systems acquisition and development, commercial product engineering, and public infrastructure engineering.

The experience level recognized by the CSEP status is that of a self-sufficient individual who is capable of “finding his or her own way” to make a productive contribution in most work situations. The prevalent profile to which the CSEP is targeted is that of engineering or equivalent discipline graduates with several years of discipline experience (i.e. electrical, mechanical, software etc.) included within a minimum of five years of SE experience.

 

CSEP

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CSEP

ESEP

The Expert Systems Engineering Professional (ESEP) certification is for those system engineers who have distinguished themselves by demonstrating both substantial experience and technical leadership. The ESEP has a broader and deeper experience in performing and leading systems engineering than the CSEP. The ESEP has at least twenty years of systems engineering experience and is the person others seek with specific, challenging, technical questions. He or she is not an expert in all aspects of systems engineering but is the expert for some aspects of SE and could perform adequately in many. Most CSEPs do not become ESEPs, rather they maintain at the CSEP individual-contributor level or they transition toward a non-technical, managerial role. Though some program managers qualify as ESEPs, this title is more commonly a fit for those with the job title of chief systems engineer. All three levels of INCOSE Certification are valuable in their own and there is no limit to how long someone may renew their certification at any level.
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ESEP

 

How Much Does Certification Cost? 

 Certification Name  Application
Fee
Examination Fee Renewal Fee (and Period)
Associate Systems Engineering Professional ASEP

180 USD

PPP2 Countries:
25% fee reduction

PPP3 Countries:
50% fee reduction

LST-103  

Computer Exam 
80 USD 

Paper Exam 
Fee varies 

100 USD
(every 5 years) 

TransitionASEP to CSEP200 USDno exam requiredn/a
Certified Systems Engineering ProfessionalCSEP350 USD

Computer Exam 
80 USD 

Paper Exam 
Fee varies 

Expert Systems Engineering ProfessionalESEP

630 USD 

No exam requiredNo renewal required
ExtensionsAcqNot availableNot availableNo additional cost

* INCOSE membership is required for all applicants starting in 2016. Membership is not required for renewal for CSEPs who paid their application fee before 1 January 2016, unless there has been a lapse in their certification. 

NOTE: Please upload documents through the Certification links on your Profile Home page. Once documents are uploaded, click continue and system will prompt you for payment.

Description of Fees 


Application fees  are the non-refundable fees paid for the processing, review, and data management of your certification application.  These are paid once to INCOSE when the application is submitted.  The only time these fees are required more than once is if you start over with the application process. 

Examination Fees  are the non-refundable fees paid to take the knowledge examinations. If you fail the exam, you may be allowed to take it again (for a total of three attempts to pass the exam during the twelve month application period) and will have to pay the exam fee for each attempt. Fees are paid online during registration for the exam. Fees for computer exams are listed in the fee table above. Fees for paper exams vary, with some being offered for free and others charging up to 80 USD, depending on the type of event at which the exam is held. 

Membership fees  are the non-refundable fees paid to be an INCOSE member, independent of certification. Candidates for certification at all levels must be INCOSE individual members. 

Renewal fees  are the non-refundable fees paid for the processing, review, and data management of your certification renewal.  These are paid every three years (CSEP) or five years (ASEP) to INCOSE when the renewal documentation is submitted.  

Non-standard fees  described in the following sections may be charged in exceptional cases where applicants choose to reschedule their exam on short notice or do not submit their renewal paperwork by the deadline. 

Memorandum of Agreement 

Organizations that sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with INCOSE for mutual support of the Certification Program may have reduced application fees for organization members.  These agreements are typically made by companies to benefit their employees or by universities to benefit their students.  The specific terms of these agreements, including fee reduction, are discussed with the Certification Program Manager. 

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Group Payment

The INCOSE Certification Office can accept a single payment from companies to cover the certification application costs for a group of employees named with the payment. The named employees have one year from the time of the group payment to complete their individual certification that includes submitting the application form and scheduling and passing an exam. INCOSE does not collect fees for certification exams; requests to pay for multiple exams using a single payment could be discussed with Prometric but have not previously been successful.  The Group Application Form can be found on the All Certification Related Forms page. 

Fees For Rescheduling or Cancelling Exams

The exam provider charges a fee for exams scheduled or rescheduled within 24 hours of the test time. Failing to appear on the test date or appearing more than 15 minutes after the scheduled exam start time will result in forfeiture of the entire exam fee. INCOSE does not have the ability to alter these fees. 

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Late Renewals

Individuals who do not submit their completed renewal form, fee, and log of PDU activities will be subject to additional fees and/or have to re-start the certification process.  A reactivation fee of $50 will be charged if the renewal is submitted within six months after the deadline.  The reactivation fee is $100 for renewals submitted greater than six months but fewer than 12 months after the deadline. For any late renewals greater than 12 months, the reactivation fee is $150. 

Additional information about requirements for renewals, including late renewals, is available on the Certification Renewal Page  

Certification Program History

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Certification is a formal process whereby a community of knowledgeable, experienced, and skilled representatives of an organization, such as the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), provides formal recognition that a person has achieved competency in specific areas (demonstrated by education, experience, and knowledge). Certification differs from a “license” that is a permission granted by a government entity for a person to practice within its regulatory boundaries. Certification also differs from a "certificate" that documents the successful completion of a training or education program. 
 
After three years of intensive research and development, INCOSE established its Professional Certification Program in March 2004 to provide a formal method for recognizing the education, experience, and knowledge of systems engineers through the "Certified Systems Engineering Professional" (CSEP) designation. This designation requires at least five years of systems engineering experience confirmed by systems engineering knowledgeable references. CSEP certification is valid for three years from the date awarded, and may be renewed in three-year intervals by demonstrating various ways of continuing education and ongoing professional development. The original CSEP examination was based on the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook Version 2A. In 2008, the exam was updated to reflect Version 3.1 of the handbook, which was based on the international systems engineering standard ISO/IEC 15288. In 2010, the exam was again updated to reflect Version 3.2 of the handbook and the latest version of ISO/IEC15288. The exam has been based on Version 4.0 of the handbook since 2015.
The program was expanded to multiple levels of certification in 2008. Now the INCOSE Certification Program has an entry level “Associate Systems Engineering Professional” (ASEP) for those who do not yet have the requisite years of SE experience. The ASEP requires and uses the same exam as CSEP. Upon achieving at least five years of SE experience, the ASEP can transition to CSEP. In 2010, INCOSE introduced the “Expert Systems Engineering Professional” (ESEP) designation for senior systems engineers with at least 25 years of recognized systems engineering experience (20 years if already a CSEP) and demonstrated systems engineering leadership and accomplishments. 
 

Certification Expansion

In 2008, the certification program added its first extension. This extension, designated “Acq,” was for professionals that work in the United States Department of Defense acquisition environment and was earned by first achieving the CSEP designation and then taking an additional acquisition exam based on the Defense Acquisition Guidebook Chapter 4, on Systems Engineering. The Acquisition extension was retired in 2014. 

The computer-based knowledge exam was the primary path to ASEP and CSEP certification until 2018, when the paper exam overtook it in popularity. The paper exam has the same format of questions as the computer exam but is offered to a group in a classroom setting. It also follows a slightly different process from the computer exam, with candidates allowed to take the paper exam prior to joining INCOSE or applying for certification. These steps are still required for those who wish to get certified after taking the exam. 

The INCOSE Certification Program beginning recognizing equivalency from other programs in 2013, starting with the German SEZert. This led to agreements with INCOSE UK and SESA (Australia) for country-local paths to certification and then to academic equivalencies. In 2018, INCOSE recognized its first Academic Equivalency, allowing students to meet the knowledge requirement for ASEP and CSEP certification through their coursework, without taking the knowledge exam. This is anticipated to be a useful path for candidates to demonstrate knowledge in languages other than English and without travel to testing centers. 

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Who runs the Certification Program?

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Certification Program Manager (PM) 

The Certification Program Manager (PM) is a paid contractor who leads the strategic and tactical operations of the Certification Program. As the primary spokesperson for the Program, the PM coordinates volunteer work and leads new initiatives until they are ready to transition to operations. The PM works with the INCOSE Board of Directors to set policy. 

Certification Operations Team 

The Certification Operations team are paid contractors who interact with candidates, volunteers, the test administrators and the PM to ensure daily activities go smoothly. This team implements policy and, as the front-line of the Program, identifies situations that need further guidance. 

Certification Advisory Group (CAG) 

This group of nine ESEP or senior CSEP volunteers serve three-year, renewable terms to provide strategic direction and advice to the Certification PM and the INCOSE Board of Directors. 

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Certification Application Reviewers (CARs) 

Over fifty volunteers, who are all either CSEPs or ESEPs, are trained and commit to a two-year, renewable term to review CSEP and ESEP application packages. 

Certification Exam Development Team 

The exam writers, reviewers, and editors are volunteers who develop the questions for the INCOSE knowledge exam. This is a rotating group of volunteers who may participate with as little as a five-hour commitment. 

Learn more about these roles and volunteer to participate in them on the INCOSE Volunteer Opportunity Board: http://www.incose.org/about-incose/volunteer-opportunities/vo-request 

 
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Training Providers

INCOSE does not endorse any training providers or programs. However, we have a list of known-providers to serve as a collection of data for the candidates' convenience. Please click on Training Providers to download our current list (last updated 23 April 2021)  

For more information, write to certification@incose.net.

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Help Guides for Certification 

Trying to submit an application, schedule an exam or renewal but not sure what the process is? Check out our new help guide section for the INCOSE SEP Program! If you don't see what you are looking for, please notify certification@incose.net.  

Appeals

Candidates who are denied ASEP, CSEP or ESEP certification may appeal the outcome based on the following reasons:
  • INCOSE did not follow the documented process.
  • Members of the INCOSE review team should have recused themselves.
  • Degree should have been qualified as a technical degree
  • Extenuating circumstances prevented fair evaluation.

No additional application materials are allowed to be submitted for the appeal.

You may get advice and an explanation of your application denial from the Certification Program Manager. If you are denied and wish to appeal, use the Appeal form and contact the Program Manager at certification@incose.net.