1. ELIGIBILITY

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY FOR THE EXAM?

To be eligible for the IRC certification examination, applicants must meet at least one of the following minimum eligibility requirements by the application deadline:

  • OPTION 1: U.S. Bachelor degree or equivalent with three or more years of qualifying full-time work experience* as an IR corporate practitioner** or IR counselor***.

  • OPTION 2: Six years of qualifying full-time work experience* as an IR corporate practitioner** or IR counselor***.

  • OPTION 3: Hold a current certification relevant to IR practice with three or more years of qualifying full-time work experience* as an IR corporate practitioner** or IR counselor***.

* Work experience requirements: at least 50% of full time employment should be directly focused on IR activities. Internships are not considered full-time work experience. Applicants are required to provide evidence of their work experience. NIRI membership is not a prerequisite for certification.
** IR Corporate Practitioner: An individual who is actively engaged in the practice of investor relations and/or corporate communication as an employee of a corporation listed on a public stock exchange.
*** IR Counselor: An individual who is a consultant engaged in assisting public-company clients in the design and implementation of broad-based investor relations and/or corporate communication programs that contribute to the companies' securities achieving fair valuation in the marketplace.

WORK EXPERIENCE

Demonstrated evidence of qualifying work experience must relate to at least seven of the following ten areas of practice with a publicly traded company as an IR practitioner or IR counselor:
• IR Strategy Formulation
• IR Planning, Implementation and Measurement
• Corporate Messaging Development
• Marketing and Outreach
• Corporate Financial Reporting and Analysis
• Business Insight
• Strategic Counsel and Collaboration
• Capital Markets and Capital Structure
• Corporate Regulatory Compliance
• Corporate Governance.

RELEVANT CERTIFICATIONS

Relevant Certifications to the investor relations practice include:
• Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
• Certified Financial Analyst (CFA-level 3)
• Other certifications may be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

Based on the eligibility route selected, one or more of the following documents must be submitted with the completed and signed examination application:

  • Current resume or curriculum vitae (CV) with detailed information about the IR qualifying work experience;

  • Copy of official diploma for all collegiate studies*;

  • Verification of work experience form or written statement from human resources department confirming the IR work experience stated in the application;

  • If self-employed, a notarized self-declaration and proof from at least two established clients;

  • Proof of a certification's current status (i.e. certification card or copy of the certificate showing the current expiration date).

* For international applicants official college transcripts must be validated by a credentialing organization (e.g. WES, NAFSA).

If you are not sure if you qualify, please send your application to certification@niri.org for a preliminary review and evaluation.

DO I HAVE TO BE A NIRI MEMBER TO REGISTER FOR THE PROGRAM?

While NIRI membership is highly encouraged, and while access to the various resources that NIRI makes available to members can only help a candidate in his/her preparation, NIRI membership is not a requirement either to register for the IRC Exam or to hold the IRC designation, and achieving certification does not constitute a NIRI membership. Discounts on the application, examination, and renewal fees are available to NIRI members. To become a NIRI member, visit www.niri.org/join.

I AM NOT YET ELIGIBLE?

If you aren’t yet eligible to sit for the IRC exam, you can take advantage of NIRI’s benefits as you gain the necessary IR profession experience prior to the exam. NIRI offers educational programs, IR profession information, and peer networking. NIRI is often referred to as the "graduate school" of investor relations, providing a wealth of professional development opportunities for IR practitioners at every level. More information is available on the NIRI website: www.niri.org/joinniri/reviewbenefits.

CAN I BE GRANDFATHERED IN THE PROGRAM?

Grandfathering is defined as a process by which individuals are granted certification without being required to meet the formal examination requirements. Grandfathering is prohibited by the Certification Council.

The Certification Council does not award credentials to individuals who have not met the eligibility requirements and examination requirements. It is the policy of the Certification Council that only individuals who meet the eligibility requirements and successfully complete the examination requirements will receive the credential.

 2. COST

WHAT IS THE COST OF THE IRC EXAM?

The cost of the exam varies by when a candidate registers relative to testing deadlines and by whether a candidate is a current NIRI member or not. NIRI members who register by the initial application deadline, will pay a total fee of $1,095; non-members will pay $1,295. NIRI members who register after the first application deadline, but before the final registration deadline, will pay $1,295; non-members will pay $1,495. If a candidate wishes to join NIRI prior to registering, the membership application must be processed separately prior to registering for the IRC Exam.

3. APPLICATION AND EXAM DATES

IS THERE A DEADLINE FOR EXAM APPLICATIONS?

Yes. Applications may be submitted before the advertised deadline. Applications received after the application deadline cannot be guaranteed acceptance. Applications are valid for the requested examination period only.

WHEN WILL THE EXAM BE AVAILABLE AND HOW MUCH IS THE FEE?

Initial Application Deadline

Final Application Deadline

Testing Window

January 4, 2017

February 4, 2017

March 18-25, 2017

March 28, 2017

April 28, 2017

June 10-17, 2017

June 29, 2017

July 28, 2017

September 9-16, 2017

Member fee: $1,095

Member fee: $1,295

 

Non-member fee: $1,295

Non-member fee: $1,495

 

Transfer/Rescheduling Fee

For members and non-members
(Applies when transferring to the next testing window)

$100

 

Cancellation Fee

For members and non-members 
(Applies to all refund requests if the testing appointment was already scheduled)

$125

 


HOW CAN I APPLY FOR THE EXAM?

Interested IR practitioners need to submit the exam application, required supporting documents, and fees before the application deadline. Applications will be available prior to each exam on the NIRI website at www.niri.org/certification.

4. TAKING THE EXAM

WHAT IS THE CONTENT OF THE EXAM?

 

  • Domain 1:     IR Strategy Formulation 14%

  • Domain 2:     IR Planning, Implementation and Measurement 11%

  • Domain 3:     Corporate Messaging Development 14%

  • Domain 4:     Marketing and Outreach 13%

  • Domain 5:     Corporate Financial Reporting and Analysis 11%

  • Domain 6:     Business Insight 8%

  • Domain 7:     Strategic Counsel and Collaboration 8%

  • Domain 8:     Capital Markets and Capital Structure 9%

  • Domain 9:     Corporate Regulatory Compliance 6%

  • Domain 10:     Corporate Governance 6%

WHAT IS THE MINIMUM PASSING SCORE FOR THE IRC EXAM?

The IRC Exam will be rigorous, but fair. The IRC Certification Council will approve the minimum passing score on each exam. The Council will consider a variety of factors that collectively will determine whether a candidate has satisfied the minimum acceptable performance to hold the IRC designation.

HOW LONG IS THE EXAM?

The examination is four hours long and consists of 200 questions. It is administered at proctored testing centers within a specified one-week testing window in a computer-based testing format (CBT) nationwide and internationally.

WILL THE IRC EXAM BE ESSAY-BASED OR MULTIPLE-CHOICE?

The IRC Exam will be computer-based and will have a multiple-choice format. Candidates will read through case studies and scenarios that closely resemble real-world situations and challenges encountered by investor relations practitioners. Candidates then will be asked a series of associated questions that compel them to make judgments and apply investor relations principles in selecting the best answers.

IN WHAT LANGUAGE IS THE EXAMINATION OFFERED?

IRC examinations are administered in English only.

5. ASSESSMENT CENTERS

WHERE CAN I FIND AN ASSESSMENT CENTER?

The examinations are administered during an established one-week testing window, Monday through Saturday, excluding holidays, at professional computer-based assessment facilities managed by NIRI's testing vendor. Assessment sites are available at hundreds of locations throughout the U.S., and virtually anywhere in the world. Scheduling is done on a first-come, first-served basis.

Hours and days of availability vary at different centers. You must have an eligibility notice in order to be able to schedule your examination appointment.

Follow this link to find an available AMP Assessment Center near you.

WHAT IF I HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS?
NIRI and its testing center vendor comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and strive to ensure that no individual with a disability is deprived of the opportunity to take the examination solely by reason of that disability. The testing center will provide reasonable accommodations for candidates with disabilities. Candidates requesting special accommodations must call the testing center vendor (AMP) at +1-913-895-4600 to schedule their examination at least eight weeks before the application deadline.

WHAT IF I CANNOT ATTEND THE EXAM I REGISTERED FOR?

  1. Applicants wishing to withdraw their exam applications may receive a 100% refund only if the testing appointment was not scheduled, and the written request is received up to 30 days before the testing window.

  2. 75% of the examination fee will be refunded if the request is received between 29 days and 7 days before the testing window.

  3. Applicants who choose not to take the examination as scheduled or miss their exam appointment may receive a partial refund of 50% of the exam fee if the written request is received within 30 days after closing the testing window. Requests for refunds beyond 30 days will not be honored and all fees forfeited.

  4. There is a $100 transfer/rescheduling fee for the next  testing window. The rescheduling fee is non-refundable. The fee is not punitive in nature, and must be paid at the time the request is made. Once applicants choose to reschedule, they cannot request a refund of either the rescheduling fee or of the original fee(s). Exams may only be rescheduled once.

  5. A non-refundable $125 cancellation fee applies to all refund requests if the testing appointment was already scheduled.

Fees listed above apply for 2017 only. All fees are subject to change. Cancellations and requests for refunds must be in writing.

WHAT ARE THE TEST CENTER RULES FOR TAKING THE EXAM?

Electronic devices including, but not limited to, cell phones, pagers, Blackberries, Bluetooth type devices, MP3 players (iPod, iTouch, etc.), laptop computers, tablets, cameras, and voice recorders may not be used during the examination.

No books or reference materials may be taken into or removed from the examination room. Calculators are not permitted.

Candidates are prohibited from leaving the testing room while their examination is in session, with the sole exception of visiting the restroom.

No questions concerning content of the examination may be asked during the examination. Candidates should read carefully the directions that are provided on screen at the beginning of the examination session.

Certain behaviors are prohibited, including but not limited to the activities listed below:

  • Copying test questions

  • Copying answers

  • Permitting another to copy answers

  • Sharing exam content with others

  • Falsifying information required for admission to an examination

  • Impersonating another examinee

  • Taking the examination for any reason other than the purpose of seeking certification

  • Individuals may not take an examination for a certification which they currently hold (active or inactive).

WHAT ARE THE TEST CENTER ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS?

Your eligibility notice and valid government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, must be presented in order to gain admission to the testing center. The name on your eligibility notice must match the name on your photo ID in order to gain admission.

A candidate not receiving an eligibility notice at least three weeks before the beginning of the testing period should contact the testing center vendor (AMP) by telephone at +1-913-895-4600 with their fax number or valid e-mail address.

6. EXAM RESULTS
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO RECEIVE MY RESULTS?

ALL applicants will receive the results of the examination within a reasonable time period after the close of the testing period.  For information purposes, the results will include a total composite score and scores for each of the ten domains of the examination blueprint.  The time period needed before releasing the results involves rescoring the exams to verify results and/or reviewing candidates’ comments and item challenges. Comments and challenges that would affect whether a candidate passes or fails an exam will be reviewed before the exam is scored. All other comments will be reviewed by certification staff.

Examination results will NOT be provided over the telephone, via e-mail, or by fax by either AMP or NIRI under any circumstances. Candidates are responsible for promptly notifying AMP and NIRI of any address or name changes.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I PASS?

Candidates who pass the exam will receive their scores from AMP and a certification package from NIRI. NIRI may issue a press release listing the names of all candidates that passed the exam. All certified individuals will be listed on the NIRI website under the Certification Directory and are authorized and encouraged to use the IRC acronym to denote certification on business cards, letterhead, with their signature, etc. Certification is considered valid for three years. At the time it becomes necessary to renew certification, a renewal notice from NIRI will be sent to all certificants.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON'T PASS?

Candidates who did not successfully complete the IRC examination will receive a letter from NIRI and be given a diagnostic report on their performance from AMP. This report identifies the knowledge areas in which the candidate’s performance is deficient and is intended to help the candidate become better prepared before retaking the examination.

MAY I REQUEST A MANUAL RECHECK OF MY EXAM RESULTS?

Hand scoring or manual recheck is routinely done by AMP before releasing the results of each exam. If an applicant wishes to request an additional review and have their test be hand scored, the applicant must submit a request to AMP within 15 days of receiving the examination results. A $25 fee must be submitted with this request (checks made payable to AMP).

ARE THERE PROCEDURES FOR CHALLENGES AND APPEALS?

Candidates wishing to challenge a particular item on the examination must submit the Appeal/Challenge Form to NIRI certification staff within 15 days of taking the examination. Applicants must provide as much detail as possible regarding the item(s) they wish to challenge.

Candidates wishing to appeal the final score of their examination must submit the Appeal/Challenge Form to NIRI certification staff within 15 days of receiving the examination results.

Applicants will be contacted if additional information is needed, or when a decision has been reached. Challenges made by way of notations on the examination booklet are not valid.


7. PREPARATION

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR THE EXAM?

The IRC Exam is based on professional practice and, as such, it is expected that the day-to-day engagement in the various disciplines that collectively compose the practice of investor relations will be a critical pre-requisite for success on the exam. The exam is built around the IR Competency Framework, and involves questions and scenarios from each of the 10 domains, including IR-related quantitative questions requiring mathematical calculations without the use of a calculator.

WHAT REVIEW COURSES AND STUDY GUIDES ARE AVAILABLE?

There are no study guides produced by the Certification Council, Certification Scheme Committee, or Examination Development Committee as this is considered a conflict of interest. The governing body does not sponsor or endorse any refresher course or study materials.

The primary IRC reference book, Investor Relations Body of Knowledge has been developed by NIRI to give an indication of the scope and range of topics covered on the certification examination and to help users identify areas that require study and preparation. Because the IRC Exam is experience-based, the Body of Knowledge is not intended, in and of itself, to be a sufficient study guide to attain the IRC certification.

Please visit the IRC References and Bibliography page for a list of other books, websites, and resources to refer to when preparing for the exam. Additionally, an IRC Sample Test is also available.

HOW DO I PURCHASE THE BODY OF KNOWLEDGE AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

The Body of Knowledge is available for purchase on a print-on-demand basis through the NIRI website. The cost of the Body of Knowledge is not included in the examination fee. The cost in the continental U.S. is $200 for NIRI members, and $250 for non-members. The cost for other global locations varies depending on shipping. The Body of Knowledge is not available in electronic form.

8. MAINTAINING CERTIFICATION

WHAT MUST I DO TO MAINTAIN MY CERTIFICATION?

Requirements for maintaining certification include the accumulation of at least 30 professional development units (PDUs) reported every three years and payment of renewal fees. The first renewal application is not due until the end of the three-year certification period.

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN TO RENEW MY CERTIFICATION?

Certification expires on December 31 of the third year of certification regardless of the month the exam was initially taken. In the year your certification is to expire, you will receive a notice reminding you that, by December 31, renewal application and fees are due. Renewal will extend certification through the subsequent three years.

Renewal Schedule

 
Certified in

 
Renewal Form + Fee Due 12/31 of

2016

 
2019, 2022, 2025, 2028

2017

 
2020, 2023, 2026, 2029

2018

 
2021, 2024, 2027, 2030

2019

 
2022, 2025, 2028, 2031

WHAT ARE PDUs?

A Professional Development Unit, or PDU, is a measuring unit used to quantify approved learning and professional service activities required for IRC renewal. Professional activities required to obtain PDUs are designed to be well within the reach of all active IR professionals. It is not necessary to spend a significant amount of money or to engage in difficult-to-accomplish activities in order to comply. More information about the wide variety of ways in which to achieve PDUs are available in the IRC Renewal program Handbook.

SHOULD MY PDUs SPAN ALL THREE YEARS OF MY RENEWAL CYCLE?

PDUs may be spread over all three years on which you are reporting, or may be obtained exclusively in any one or two of the three reporting years. You can refer to the renewal schedule to determine your reporting period or renewal cycle.

MUST I HAVE PDUs IN ALL ACTIVITY CATEGORIES?

There is a minimum number of PDUs required for each category. Refer to the IRC Renewal Program Handbook for detailed requirements and instructions.

HOW MUCH IS THE RENEWAL FEE?

Renewal fees must be submitted by the expiration date of your certification with appropriate and required documentation. All fees associated with the renewal program are non-refundable and can be found in the table below. 

Renewal Program Fees

Member Fee

$ 300

Non-member Fee

$ 450

Retired Fee

$ 125

Reactivation Fee

$ 250


WHAT IS THE REACTIVATION FEE?

A reactivation fee applies if renewal documents and fees are not submitted by the due date. This fee should be paid along with the renewal fee and application must be submitted for the corresponding triennial period. Failure to pay the reactivation fee will result in the certification remaining in an inactive status for one year, even if the renewal fee and application have been submitted.

WHAT IS THE RETIRED FEE?

Should a certificant at any time leave active employment in the IR field to pursue other interests of for major medical reasons, s/he may request to place the certification under retired status. If the status is granted, there is a maintenance fee for the three-year cycle. Retired status will be allowed for two renewal cycles only.

WHEN CAN I USE THE IRC DESIGNATION AFTER MY NAME?

You can start using the designation after receiving the passing confirmation letter and certificate from NIRI.

9. ADMINISTRATIVE

DOES NIRI INFORM MY EMPLOYER OF MY CERTIFICATION STATUS?

No. It is up to each individual to notify an employer or others regarding your certification exam status. Upon inquiry, staff will release information regarding the status of an individual’s certification only (i.e. certified or not certified, active or inactive, date certification expires, date certification was granted, and certification number or ID number). Information regarding scores and whether an individual took the exam will not be released.

HOW DO I SUBMIT A CHANGE OF LEGAL NAME AND ADDRESS?

Requests for legal name change on certification documents and records as a result of marriage, divorce, or court order must be submitted in writing to the certification staff at NIRI with a copy of the legal document and appropriate documentation of the name change. Requests for address change must be sent to the attention of the certification staff in writing as well.

WHO DO WE FORWARD OUR INQUIRIES TO?

Please submit all inquiries to NIRI certification staff at certification@niri.org or by calling +1-703-562-7700.

10. VOLUNTEERS

WHO IS OVERSEEING DEVELOPMENT OF THE IRC EXAM?

IRC Exam questions, as well as the answers, were developed through extensive work by the Examination Development Committee, which is composed of volunteer investor relations practitioners.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR OVERSIGHT OF THE IRC PROGRAM?

Oversight of all elements of the IRC program is the responsibility of the volunteer Certification Council, which operates independent from the NIRI Board of Directors.

HOW CAN I BECOME INVOLVED AS A VOLUNTEER WITH THIS PROGRAM?

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer member of the certification program council or committees, please contact NIRI certification staff at certification@niri.org.