Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS)




What is the Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS) credential?


This credential recognizes highly experienced career services professionals. CMCS providers hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree combined with 5-7 years of career services experience as or within any of the following: 

♦  career coach  ♦  career counselor  ♦  career advisor  ♦  career consultant  ♦  executive coach  ♦  career development  ♦  human resources 
♦  talent development  ♦  leadership development  ♦  workforce development  ♦  training  ♦  resume writer  ♦  recruiter/talent acquisition 
♦  university faculty


Why earn my CMCS?

The CMCS communicates that you are an established expert in career services across one or more roles and skillsets.  The CMCS allows you to establish your expertise working with individuals, organizational systems, or both.  Many of our credential holders practice in multiple settings, playing a variety of roles, and appreciate a credential that communicates the complexity of their work in career services.

Find out what your peers are saying about earning their CMCS credential!


Who is eligible for the CMCS?

To apply for the CMCS credential, an applicant must be able to

1) successfully document the completion of a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree (any major/discipline)

2) and the equivalent of 7 years of full time (14,000 hours) work experience


1) a Master’s degree (or higher)

2) and the equivalent of 5 years of full time (10,000 hours) work experience.


**The work experience used to satisfy this application requirement must be in the field of career services/development.


What if I’m eligible for the CCC? Can I still apply for the CMCS?

Yes! As long as you meet the academic and work experience requirements outlined above, you are eligible for the CMCS. This credential is intended to demonstrate mastery of career services and some counselors have opted to earn it.


What is the difference between the CCSP and the CMCS?

The CCSP requires completion of the Facilitating Career Development (FCD) curriculum and assessment based upon that curriculum. The CCSP does not have any additional degree requirements. The CMCS has both degree and work experience requirements but does not require completion of the FCD curriculum.


What are the CMCS Domains of Practice, upon which competency and mastery are measured?

The CMCS Domains of Practice are the comprehensive list of professional career services competencies that candidate assessment is based upon. The four CMCS Domains of Practice are:

  1. CAREER - providing services (guidance and support) to clients/students: Career Management, Identity Clarification/Promotion, and Work-Life Synergy
  2. RELATIONSHIPS (assisting the client/student): Relationship Mediation, Talent Development, Service Coordination (aka Case Management), Cultural Competence* and Diversity and Inclusion* 
  3. PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT: Content/Curriculum, Logistics and Oversight
  4. ETHICS: Making Ethical Choices, Modeling Ethical Behavior 

* adapted from the 2015 NCDA Code of Ethics Glossary.

For more detailed descriptions of the Domains of Practice, please reference the CMCS Study Guide.


What are the steps to apply for the CMCS?

The basic steps of applying are: 1) provide required demographic information, 2) submit payment, 3) enter your references’ contact information, 4) upload your degree transcript/s, 5) document your experience through your CV/resume, and 6) respond to the scenarios in the assessment portion of the application. You do not have to complete the entire application at one time, but you must submit it within 90 days of your start date. You can log in at any time and see how much more you need to do. You may not receive assistance from anyone else nor use any resources beyond the NCDA Code of Ethics as you are writing your response. Be sure to look at the CMCS Study Guide!  


How much time do I have to finish the application?

You must complete the application within 90 days of your start date, but you do not have to complete it all at one time. The assessment portion of the application is timed – once you open a scenario, you must complete your response to that scenario within 60 minutes. After each scenario, you may save and exit your application to complete later.


How can I prepare for the assessment portion of the application?

The CMCS is designed to assess competency in the delivery of services across the CMCS Domains of Practice. You will respond to a scenario (a description of the client and a situation) for each of these domains: career, relationships, and ethics. You will be asked to write 2-5 paragraphs responding to a focused question based on that scenario. Your responses are evaluated by a trained reviewer who also holds this credential. The reviewer sees only your responses and cannot access any identifying information about you.  To prepare for writing your responses to the four scenarios, we suggest you adopt the mindset of sitting in session with your client and/or leading a career services group program. Your response should cover the primary needs of the client, suggested resources, action steps, and outcomes which you would use to respond to the client or group in real time. We want you to draw upon your everyday experiences to formulate how you would apply the Domains of Practice in your real-world response to each scenario. Your references will be asked to assess and provide examples of your competence on the program management domain. For more help, please read the CMCS Study Guide!


What if I don’t pass?

Applicants who do not pass their first attempt at the assessment will be asked to complete a new scenario on that domain within one month.  If the retest is also unsuccessful, the applicant must wait one year to reapply and pay the fee. We recommend further study during this year, and/or considering enrolling in the Facilitating Career Development curriculum (successful completion of which also qualifies you for the CCSP credential).


How do I find continuing education relevant to career development?

See the NCDA Continuing Education webpage for complete details.


What do I need to know to use the application software?


  1. The first step is to complete an NCDA form, then you will receive a link to the credentialing application system. 

  2. The process of applying for a credential has 2 major parts: demographics and scenarios.


I’m ready!  How can I apply for the CMCS?

Gather these materials which you will need for your application: A copy of your academic transcript, your resume/CV, and the names and emails of your references. The cost of the CMCS Application is $175.

View the CMCS Study Guide now.

You do not have to complete the entire application at one time, but you must submit it within 90 days of starting it.



Clicking on the Apply Now link will start your new NCDA Credentialing Application by completing an NCDA form. Once your information, including a non-refundable payment, has been completed, you will receive the link to continue the application and assessment process and upload the appropriate documents. When applying on that second link, you will be leaving the NCDA website and will be directed to create a new account within the new system. Your NCDA login will not work with the credentialing application system.