CPCE FAQs



Q: What do I need to purchase to prepare for the exam?
A: Visit our Study Tools page for information on books as well as our Fast Track program.

Q: Can our chapter purchase an individual copy of The Professional Reference Guide for chapter use?
A: Yes, chapters may purchase a copy of the Professional Reference Guide for $99 member/$119 nonmember. 

Q. I can’t make it to any of the upcoming scheduled exams. Can I still submit my application and sit for the exam at another time?
A: Yes, candidates will have up to one year to sit for the exam from the time of application approval. The online exam is now the most common way to take the exam and allows you the flexibility to select the day and time. A proctor is required. View the drafting form for details.

Q. How many questions are on the exam and how long is the exam?
A: There are 175 questions. Candidates have 2.5 hours to complete the online version and 3 hours to complete the paper version of the exam. Most candidates complete the exam in about 2 hours.

Q. What grade is required to pass the exam? What if I do not pass the exam?
A: A score of 70 percent or higher is required to pass the exam. If you do not pass the exam, you can retake the exam within a one year period from your application approval date for a reduced fee. If the exam is not retaken within one year, you will be required to re-apply.

Q. What serves as appropriate documentation?
A: Guidelines for documentation are included in the drafting form. Documentation is required to receive contact hours. If you are unsure about what documentation to include after reviewing the drafting form, please contact cpce@nace.net to set-up an application consultation.

Q. Who should take the exam? How do I know if I am qualified?
A: This exam tests the expertise of caterers and event planners, but it is open to any professional in catering and events who wants to advance their position in the industry. This includes professionals such as photographers, rental specialists, hospitality professors, designers, florists, etc.

A minimum number of years of experience is required to be able to reach the application point minimum (see drafting form for details). Some professionals may need to gain more knowledge in certain competencies. It is difficult to give an exact answer about the amount of experience required in order to pass the exam since everyone has a different background. We recommend that individuals review the application and then contact NACE Headquarters at cpce@nace.net or call 410-290-5410 with questions.

Q. Why should I take the CPCE exam?
A: The CPCE designation is the catering and event industry's most prestigious professional certification. Earning the CPCE designation communicates professionalism and strengthens your earning power. Read the benefits of the CPCE designation for candidates and employers.

Q. When do I need to submit a completed application and documentation in order to register for an upcoming exam?
A: Your completed application must be submitted  no later than 30 days prior to the desired exam date.Your application and documentation need to be emailed to cpce@nace.net. Payment should be submitted with your application. 

Q. How long does the certification remain active?
A: The certification remains active for 5 years. All CPCEs must recertify before the certification expires in order to continue using the designation.

Q. What is involved with recertification?
A: To recertify, CPCEs should complete a recertification application, which is similar to the application for initial certification, and submit it with documentation and payment for the recertification fee ($245) before their certification expiration date.

Q: How do I apply for Emeritus Status?
A: If you are a CPCE that is interested in permanently maintaining your designation, NACE offers the opportunity to apply for emeritus status. Requirements are listed below:
  • Applicants must be turning 60 or older in the calendar year that certification is up for renewal and must supply documentation of age (driver’s license, birth certificate, etc.)
  • Applicants must be an active CPCE in good standing for 10 or more years
  • Applicants must submit a 300-500 word essay describing how the CPCE designation has enhanced their professional life and why they believe it is important to retain
  • Fee: $250 (check and credit card payments accepted) - send credit card payments via email to cpce@nace.net, fax to 410-290-5460 or mail to NACE, Attn: CPCE, 10440 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 300, Columbia, MD 21044