CPCE FAQs



Q: What books do I need to purchase to prepare for the exam?
A: Candidates are required to purchase The Professional Reference Guide for the Catering and Event Industry, which is included in your application fee. It can also be purchased in advance of submitting your application. To prepare for the Food Production portion of the exam, we suggest Food Safety Management Principles. Enter code NACE at check-out to receive a discount! Links to purchase these books are available at at www.naceuniversity.org. You may also consider our list of additional resource books, included on the application. Read more about additional study tools, including our Online Study Groups and Fast Track Program, at www.nace.net/cpce.

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. Even though a candidate may use the chapter's copy of The Professional Reference Guide to study for the exam, they will still be required to purchase the guide as a part of their application fee.

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 your application's 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! Visit www.naceuniversity.org to apply. A proctor is required. View the application at www.naceuniversity.org for details.

Q. How many questions are on the exam and how long is the exam?
A: There are 175 questions. Everyone has 2.5 hours to complete the online version and three hours to complete the paper version of the exam. Most people complete the exam in about two 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 a maximum of one time in a one year period. If the exam is not retaken within one year of original exam date, you will be required to re-apply.

Q. What serves as appropriate documentation?
A: Guidelines for documentation are included in the application. Documentation is required to receive points in any section. If you are unsure about which documentation to include after reviewing the application, 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 the catering and events industry who wants to advance their position in the industry. This includes professionals who are not caterers or event planners, 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 application for details at www.naceuniversity.org). 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, typed application must be submitted online at www.naceuniversity.org no later than 30 days prior to the desired exam date.Your documentation will also need to be emailed to cpce@nace.net. Credit card payments should be submitted with your application. If paying by check, please mail your check to NACE Headquarters.

Q. How long does the certification remain active?
A: The certification remains active for five 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 ($195 for members/$295 for non-member) before their certification expiration date.

Q. I taught a course/class/seminar on an industry related topic. Can I receive credit toward my CPCE application?
A: Candidates may receive points per course, class, or seminar taught related to the catering and events industry. Two points are given per class session/seminar, except in the case that the candidate spoke on a panel, in which case one point is given. The course/class/seminar must have been taught within the last 10 years for the initial exam application, or the last five years for the recertification application. Documentation must be included (e.g., a letter from the sponsoring organization on official letterhead, an agenda from the event that highlights your course, etc).

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. If you are would like to apply, please review the following requirements:
  • Applicant must be turning 60 or older in the calendar year that the certification is up for renewal and must also supply documentation of age (driver’s license, birth certificate, etc.)
  • Applicant must be an active CPCE in good standing for 10 or more years
  • Applicant must submit a 300-500 word essay describing how the CPCE designation has helped enhance their professional life and why they believe it is important to retain it
  • 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, 9891 Broken Land Parkway, Suite 301, Columbia, MD 21046.