While there has been a certification program for incentive travel professionals for some time, the merchandise side of the business never had one. Until now.

The Incentive Marketing Association has just launched the Certified Professional of Incentive Management, or CPIM, designation to recognize those individuals who are, as one of the architects of the program, Marriott’s Steve Maselko, put it, “the leaders and acknowledged experts in the field.”

To qualify, incentive planners are initially assessed on their industry experience, knowledge, and leadership contributions. Then they must take an exam that focuses on the incentive industry and measurement of incentive programs. The final step involves developing a white paper or seminar on a pre-approved topic.

The program launched in January, and organizers expect 25 people to sit for the exam this year. For more information, visit www.incentivemarketing.org.