Certified Peer Specialist

frequently asked questions

WHAT IS A CPS?

A CPS is a Certified Peer Specialist. A CPS is a person who has received special training to be able to use their lived experience of recovery from a mental health concern to support and assist others. ​

In Georgia there are multiple CPS credentials. The CPS credential offered by the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network is the CPS-Mental Health credential. If you are in recovery from substance use and do not identify as living with a mental health concern, please visit the website of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, who provide training for the CPS-Addictive Disease credential through their Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist training program.

 

WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS TO BECOME A CPS? 

1) 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 required to provide documentation.

3) Must be well grounded in recovery with at least one year working towards wellness and recovery.

4) Strong reading, comprehension and written communication skills as indicated by answers on the application.

5) Ideally, applicants will 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 has received an offer of employment by their hiring agency upon successful completion of training and certification.

Tier 3: Applicant will market him/herself as a CPS after meeting all requirements, including passing the exam.  (This includes Vocational Rehabilitation support)

 

*Please note if you are being sponsored by an agency or organization, you are responsible for providing written documentation of employment status in order to be considered a Tier 1 or Tier 2 applicant. Your application will not be considered complete without the 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 of which has two stages.

 

The first stage, which typically lasts two weeks, is when the application is available and must be submitted online.

The second stage of the application process includes phone interviews for selected applicants. This stage typically lasts one week.  Applicants selected for the phone interview will receive an email invitation to schedule a date and time.

 

IS THE APPLICATION PROCESS COMPETITIVE?

Yes, the application process is a competitive one. The CPS Project often receives more than 100 applications for each training. There are 30 participants who are selected for each training cohort. It is recommended that applicants thoroughly and completely fill out the application, as the quality and content of the application will determine if you are selected for the phone interview that follows.

 

WHEN IS THE NEXT CPS TRAINING?

The CPS project offers 5 trainings each year. To view the current CPS Project Schedule, please click here.

 

WHERE ARE THE CPS TRAININGS LOCATED?

The training locations are throughout Georgia. Trainings have been offered in Atlanta, Augusta, Duluth, Macon, Savannah, and Warner Robins. Trainings are also offered online when required for public health and safety.

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 days a series of classes meets 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. A detailed schedule is provided to those who are accepted into the program.

 

​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 phone interview. 

 

HOW LARGE IS THE EACH CPS TRAINING CLASS? 

We accept approximately 30 training participants to each class.  

DOES IT COST ANYTHING TO APPLY TO CPS TRAINING?

A $20 online application fee is required for each applicant to each CPS training they apply for. This fee is non-refundable, non-transferable, cannot be waived or scholarshipped, and must be paid online at the time of application submission. The administrative costs for processing applications begins upon submission of the application, at which time payment is required. Please be certain before submitting your application that it is ready to submit, and that you will be able to attend the training if you are selected to attend. Neither training acceptance nor the application fee can be transferred to a future training.

If you have questions about your eligibility, the strength of your application, or the application process, please email cpsproject@gmhcn.org prior to submitting your application.

HOW MUCH DOES THE TRAINING COST?

There is a $125 Training Fee that covers cost of registration and training materials. There may be additional costs for lodging depending on whether or not participants choose to stay at the hotel site where the in-person training is being held. Hotel costs will vary by location and generally range from $700 to $1000 for the 2 week stay (excluding weekends).  Staying at the hotel is not mandatory, but recommended for those with  a commute longer than 30 minutes.

WHEN DO I PAY MY TRAINING FEE?

Registration fees are only collected from applicants who have been selected to attend the training. The registration fee is $125. The Training Fee Due Date is set with each training, and can be found on the CPS Training Schedule.

The $125 Training Fee is due upon the Training Fee Due Date set for each training. Refunds for the $125 Training Fee are available up until the Training Fee Due Date. After the Training Fee Due Date, the Training Fee is non refundable. The Training Fee cannot be waived or scholarshipped. As a result of high demand for this training, people accepted into a training who do not pay the Training Fee by the Training Fee Due Date will lose their eligibility to participate in that training so that others may be invited to attend to ensure a full course for each training; however, they remain eligible to apply to participate in a future training.

HOW DO I APPLY FOR A SCHOLARSHIP?

Scholarship requests are made on the application for each training. 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 application fee, training fee, or transportation costs.

 

IS TRANSPORTATION PROVIDED TO THE TRAINING?

No, transportation is not provided to, from, or at 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, each 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 Tucker, 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 complete and submit documentation of a minimum of 12 continuing education units (CEUs) per calendar year. There are many opportunities to obtain CEUs through workshops, webinars, and conferences. Learn more here.

I AM A PEER SPECIALIST IN ANOTHER STATE AND WANT TO TRANSFER MY CREDENTIALS TO GEORGIA. HOW DO I DO THIS?

Please contact the CPS Certification Coordinator by emailing Mariam at mariam@gmhcn.org.  She will determine whether the training you received is similar to the Georgia CPS Project training (developed by Appalachian Consulting Group). If it the curriculum is similar, you will be eligible to sit for the Georgia CPS Project exam. The exam fee is $125. You will have one opportunity to take and pass the exam before being required to apply to participate in the Georgia CPS Project training. You are expected to use materials from your previous training to study.


If it is determined that the state you are certified in does not have a curriculum similar to the Georgia CPS Project training, you will need to apply to participate in the Georgia CPS Project training. The training schedule as well as application dates are located at https://www.gmhcn.org/cps-training-schedule.  There is a $20 application fee.