Step 4: Apply For and Take Exam

It is important to note that DON Civilian COOL is not a credentialing organization—you do not sign up for or take exams from COOL. Once you have selected a credential, reviewed its requirements, and obtained any additional training or experience needed, you are ready to apply for and take the credentialing exam.

Register for Exam

Use the credentialing agency links provided on the Credential Snapshot pages to go to the agency's website to register for an exam. Follow the credentialing board’s application procedures which often include:

  • Submitting an application
  • Submitting documentation of training and experience
  • Possibly paying application and exam fees

Schedule and Take Exam

Once you are registered for an exam, you need to schedule the exam and then take it. You can schedule exams through the credentialing agency, or use a commercial test vendor, some of which are listed below.

You can learn how, when, and where exams are offered from the Testing Info tab found on some Credential Snapshot pages. (Snapshot pages only display tabs for which there is content; if there is no content available for a particular tab, that tab will not display.)

View the Testing Info tab by selecting a credential on a Summary page, which displays the Snapshot page for the credential. If it is present, select the Exam tab. Additional tabs display, including Testing Info if it is present. The "Testing Info" tab describes how testing is handled for the credential and includes links to the testing centers and additional information.

The following is a list of test vendors that may be included. DON Civilian COOL does not endorse any of the following vendors, but lists them here for your convenience.

Maintain Credential

After you've earned the credential, make sure you are aware of any requirements to keep your credential active. Check with the credentialing agency regarding the following items:

  • Is there a renewal period for the credential and if so, how long is it?
    Many certifying agencies require you to renew your credential after a period of time, for example every three years.
  • Are there renewal requirements?
    Credentialing agencies may require additional training or education, commonly called continuing education, after you earn a credential to demonstrate up-to-date knowledge. Others may require that you take the credential exam again at the end of the renewal period. Most credentialing agencies that have continuing education requirements also require the payment of annual maintenance fees. These fees pay for the administrative review of the documents submitted towards continuing education requirements. Renewal requirements, and costs, will vary by credentialing agency.