Certified Peer Specialist
frequently asked questions
WHAT IS A CPS?
A CPS is a Certified Peer Specialist. A CPS is a person with a lived experience of a mental health condition that supports and assists others in the path of spreading hope and promoting recovery.
WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS TO BECOME A CPS?
1) Candidates must have a diagnosis of mental illness or a dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance use disorder. Candidates must be willing to identify as a person living with a mental health condition and be willing to use their lived recovery experience to support others in their recovery.
2) Applicants must have at least a high school diploma/GED, and may be requested to provide a copy of these documents.
3) Must be well grounded in recovery (At least one year between diagnosis and application to training).
4) Strong reading, comprehension and written communication skills as indicated by answers on the application.
5) Must have demonstrated experience with leadership, advocacy, or governance.
WHAT IS THE TIER SYSTEM?
Applicants are reviewed and accepted in the following order:
*Tier 1: Applicant is currently working and is required by his or her hiring agency to be certified.
*Tier 2: Applicant is being sponsored by their agency that will hire him/her on successful completion of training and certification. (This includes vocational rehab sponsorship)
Tier 3: Applicant will market him/herself as a CPS after meeting all requirements, including passing the exam.
*Please note if you are being sponsored by an agency or organization, you are responsible for providing written documentation of support with possible employment and/or financial sponsorship in order to be considered a Tier 1 or Tier 2. Your application will not be considered complete without accompanying documentation. All documentation must be received on or before established application deadlines.
HOW DO I APPLY TO BECOME A CPS?
There are several application periods throughout the year. Each application period is 3 weeks long. During this time, the application will be available online. Applications can only be submitted during the application periods.
WHEN IS THE NEXT CPS TRAINING?
The CPS project offers 5 trainings a year. To view the current CPS Project Schedule, please click here.
WHERE ARE THE CPS TRAININGS LOCATED?
The training locations vary in different cities throughout Georgia. Trainings have been offered in Atlanta, Duluth, Macon, Warner Robins, Augusta, and Savannah.
HOW LONG ARE THE CPS TRAININGS?
The training is a 2 week training. Generally it is a total of 9 days (Monday through Friday of week one and Monday through Thursday of week two). Most classes meet from 8:30am to 4:30pm, with slight variations depending on the schedule. The training classes do not meet on the weekend. There are also optional evening activities during the training period. Upon your acceptance to the program, you will be given a more detailed schedule.
WHEN DO I FIND OUT IF I WAS ACCEPTED TO THE TRAINING?
Applicants will be notified by mail or phone call within 7-10 business days following the application deadline.
HOW LARGE IS THE EACH CPS TRAINING CLASS?
We accept approximately 40-45 training participants to each class.
HOW MUCH DOES THE TRAINING COST?
There is an $85 registration fee that covers cost of training materials. There may additional costs for lodging depending on whether or not you decide to stay at the hotel site where the training is being held. Hotel costs will vary by location and generally range from $500 to $900 for the 2 week stay (excluding weekends). Staying at the hotel is not mandatory, but recommended if you have a long commute.
WHEN DO I PAY MY REGISTRATION FEE?
Registration fees are only collected from applicants who have been selected to attend the training. The registration fee is $85. The deadline for registration fees to be received is the first day of training.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR A SCHOLARSHIP?
If you would like to apply for a scholarship, there is a question on the application where you can indicate this. There is also a section that asks you to explain how a scholarship would be helpful to you. Please keep in mind that scholarships are very limited and not everyone accepted to the training will receive a scholarship. Scholarships cover the cost of the hotel lodging. They do not cover the registration fee or transportation costs.
IS TRANSPORTATION PROVIDED TO THE TRAINING?
No, transportation is not provided to the training. It is the responsibility of the participant.
DO YOU HAVE TO TAKE A TEST TO BECOME A CPS?
Yes, following the successful completion of the training, the participant must pass the Georgia Certified Peer Specialist Exam. Exams are taken approximately 2 to 4 weeks following the training. There are 5 exam periods per year.
WHERE DO I TAKE MY EXAM?
All exams are administered in person in Decatur, GA at the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network offices.
DOES THE CPS PROJECT PROVIDE JOB PLACEMENT?
No, the CPS Project does not provide job placement; however, this website has a job board with current CPS employment opportunities.
AFTER I BECOME A CPS, HOW DO I MAINTAIN MY CERTIFICATION?
After successful completion of the CPS examination, a CPS is required to have a minimum of 12 continuing education units (CEUs) per calendar year. There are many opportunities to obtain CEUs through workshops, webinars, and conferences.