If you are like many promo professionals, you are working head-down in your business all day long focused on orders, client proposals and the details of running your business. Well, heads up everyone. It’s time to consider giving back to you by earning your professional certification.

PPAI’s Certification Program can now be accessed from an online platform, making it easier than ever to earn your Trained Advertising Specialist (TAS) certificate and Certified Advertising Specialist (CAS), Master Advertising Specialist (MAS) and Master Advertising Specialist Plus (MAS+) certifications. The latter is being redesigned and will relaunch in late summer or early fall. Even if you’ve been in the industry for more than 20 years, certification takes your competency and professional image to a whole new level. Certification ups your game no matter who you are, what role you play or who you do business with. And it’s never too late. A perfect example is the PPAI board of directors. 

Every member of the PPAI board has now earned their certification. It was a group goal spearheaded by board member Danny Rosin, CAS, co-president at Brand Fuel, Inc. “Knowledge is powerful,” he says. “Having a certification activates a core philosophy of ongoing learning and an appetite for curiosity. Without a focus on continuing education and improvement, I am a liability to my staff and clients. Plus, being certified makes me walk with a bit more swag(ger)—pun intended.”

Board Chair Brittany David, MAS, vice president of sales at SnugZ USA, recently completed the program. “As the chair of the board, I felt it was important to take that next step toward education. If we are going to be speaking about the value and importance of industry knowledge and education from the stage, I should be able to back the program and put my money where my mouth is.”

Board member Ira Neaman, CAS, president of Vantage Apparel, had heard others speak highly of the experience, so he set a timeline to complete his CAS. “The best way to describe it is binge-watching a three-season show on Netflix—about 30 hours—which seems like a lot, but since you can pick and choose the times you watch [the educational webinars] it is pretty easy.” He says the content makes for an excellent refresher and brings one current with the latest marketing concepts and current regulations on product safety and compliance. “I would highly recommend it as part of the HR onboarding process for mid-level managers who are new to the industry.”

Jim Hagan, CAS, CEO of Sweda Company, says the peer pressure from his fellow board members was tremendous, but it had nothing to do with his decision to recently achieve his CAS. “For me, it was the right time to put all of these years of experience to the test and support my commitment to the industry. Earning my CAS gave me a newfound appreciation for the information and educational tools PPAI offers, not only to industry newcomers, but to someone like me with 18 years of experience. Being able to bring it back to my company and not only talk about the importance of education but being able to back it up with my CAS is very helpful. I really didn’t appreciate the value of achieving my CAS until I went through it. It has now become part of our culture.” 

Sharon Willochell, CAS, president of Leed’s and PPAI’s chair-elect, had been thinking about certification for quite some time. “When I first came into the industry I thought it would be a good idea—then I got immersed in work. By the time I had been in the industry for 10-plus years I felt like I knew quite a bit and wasn’t sure I needed it.” Ultimately, she decided that if she was going to represent members on the PPAI board, she would be better prepared with her certification. “I am proud that I have it and feel that in many ways it has given me a different perspective on the industry. I am already working on my MAS.”

If the thought of earning a certification seems a little daunting or if you’ve looked into it in the past and been intimidated—relax. With the new online tools, webinars and tests, the program is easier and more convenient than ever and can be completed from anywhere. If you are ready to invest in yourself, get started at www.ppai.org/members/certification


Tina Berres Filipski is editor of PPB.