The Convention Industry Council, the organization that oversees the Certified Meeting Professional designation, on June 7 announced a revised CMP Blueprint, the standards document that guides the kinds of questions asked on the CMP exam. Combined with the recent announcement that the CMP exam will be administered via computer, the news is a clear step toward the CIC’s goal of attracting more non-U.S. meeting professionals.

The blueprint, now to be called the CMP International Standards, defines the competencies that meeting professionals need for success. The document has been updated every five years or so, but this new iteration is more detailed than in the past and was created in partnership with the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council, which recently finished a job analysis for its own event management certification. “Our analysis [of CMP standards] included their standard, the CMP Blueprint, as well as [Meeting Professionals International’s] Meetings and Business Events Competency Standard, which is also based on the Canadian standard,” said Kotowski, in a press release. MPI’s MBECS was also released June 7.

In May, CIC revealed that computer-based testing will begin in the second quarter of 2012, greatly expanding the reach of the CMP program. The way it works now, there are two major CMP test days each year. For example, the exam will be administered in 18 locations on July 23 and in 14 locations on January 7, 2012, with three other one-off test sites during the year. In contrast, with computer-based testing, candidates will be able to sit for the CMP exam during five- to seven-day exam windows several times a year in thousands of locations around the world. Prometric, the company CIC works with to design and administer the CMP exam, offers 10,000 testing centers in 166 countries.

“It’s a convenience issue for our candidates,” explains CIC’s Chief Executive Officer Karen Kotowski, CAE, CMP. “If the exam in January is during your association’s annual meeting, you’ve got to wait six months to take the test. … You won’t be able to take the test on your home computer. You have to go to a testing facility, but it will be more convenient for candidates,” she says.

Several other changes in recent years are also helping to reposition the CMP program. In 2009, CIC announced a partnership with MPI, one of its member organizations, to make the program more relevant to people outside the U.S. and spread the word about the designation to the global membership of MPI. Also, the application and recertification application have been redesigned and streamlined, emphasizing work experience, internships, and education, and eliminating the point system, in which candidates had to track their membership in industry organizations, and their volunteer assignments, industry awards, and other activities. The recertification application can now be completed online and the application is expected to follow shortly.

In total, more than 15,500 individuals have been certified through the CMP program since it launched in 1985, and today more than 9,000 are active in the industry worldwide.