Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS)


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

This credential recognizes the contributions of professionals who have mastered a variety of coaching, advising, and consulting roles in the field of career services. Examples of these roles may be senior consultant, professional coach, senior advisor, senior workforce practitioner, master trainer, executive recruiter, and master resume writer.

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


Why earn my CMCS?
The CMCS credential is an effective way to communicate that you have developed a high level of expertise in the field of career services to lay audiences. The CMCS can also help you to differentiate yourself within the coaching, human resources, talent development, consulting, workforce development, and/or resume writing professions.


CMCS Fast Track Option
Well-established, credentialed coaching professionals with career services CEs and experience may qualify for our new fast-track application process. “Career services” experience includes time spent working as a coach within academic career services, human resources, talent development, outplacement, workforce development, non-profit, military, and/or private practice settings. This fast-track process will enable successful applicants to earn the CMCS credential through a portfolio application, bypassing the competency assessments normally required. Click here to see if you are eligible to apply to the CMCS through the fast track.


Who is eligible for the CMCS?
To apply for the CMCS credential, an applicant must be able to successfully document the completion of a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree (any major/discipline) and 7 years of full time (14,000 hours) work experience OR a Master’s degree (or higher) and 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. 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).


New CMCS Fast Track Option

If you meet the following three (3) requirements, then you are eligible to use the fast track application for the CMCS.

1. Hold a Bachelor’s degree combined with seven (7) years of full time (14,000 hours) work experience in career services OR a Master’s or higher degree combined with five (5) years of full time (10,000 hours) work experience in career services. The work experience being claimed must be in the field of career services/career development.
2. Hold a currently valid coaching certification from ICF (only PCC or MCC will be accepted) or CCE, Inc. (BCC)
3. Can document sixty (60) continuing education (CE) contact hours (per the current NCDA CE manual) within the past seven (7) years in career development, career coaching, resume writing, job search, workforce development, and/or leadership development. General coaching skills CEs are not counted towards the sixty (60) hour requirement. These sixty (60) hours can be compiled from a variety of sources:

  • A maximum of twenty (20) hours can be applied from resume writing, organizational development, learning and development, talent development, or leadership development courses.
  • At least forty (40) hours must consist of core skill development in career readiness, career development, career coaching, and/or career transition and job search.
  • Completion of NCDA’s Facilitating Career Development (FCD) course will meet the full sixty (60) CE requirement.
  • Completion of a 3-credit hour university career counseling or career development theory course will provide thirty (30) CE contact hours (transcript must be provided).
  • CE certificates from the following established and reputable providers of career development and career services education will be accepted: NCDA, ICF- or CCE- approved training providers, NACE, ATD, SHRM, OD Network, RWA, MBACSEA, Career Thought Leaders, Career Development Network, NAWDP, and accredited universities.
  • CE certificates from organizations other than those listed above will require this additional documentation for approval: 1) course agenda/outline/syllabus and 2) slides, handouts, and/or assessments from a single topic on the course agenda.


Fast Track Application Process
Start by clicking on "Apply Now" below.
Pay the CMCS application fee of $175.
Answer the prompts in the application system to establish your eligibility for the Fast Track application and be prepared with the following documentation:

  • Degree transcript/s and your resume or CV
  • A log of your estimated hours of work experience within career services (i.e. estimated hours per job or years of private practice)
  • A current copy of your coaching credential certificate
  • Certificates from accepted training providers and/or supplementary documentation demonstrating sixty (60) CE contact hours in career development/services topics and activity (per NCDA CE Manual)

Upon review of your completed Fast Track Application (by Headquarters and/or approved CC Reviewers) the application will be approved, denied or placed in “pending’ status while awaiting additional information from headquarters (for 2nd round review).


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.

  3. Please note that due to the verification process, you will not immediately move forward to the next step in the application process. Remember, headquarters is open Monday-Thursday, 7am-5pm (central time). Thus, if you start the application process on a Thursday or Friday, you will not have access to the case studies until the following week.


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.

View the CMCS Study Guide now.




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. 

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