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 seek employment as a CPS-MH 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 an online group interview for selected applicants. This stage typically lasts one week. Applicants selected for an online group interview will receive an email invitation to schedule a date and time.
For additional information on the application process, please visit the application page.
IS THE APPLICATION PROCESS COMPETITIVE?
Yes, the application process is a competitive one. The CPS Project often receives more than 100 applications for its training. There are 35 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 seven trainings each year. To view the current CPS Project Schedule, please click here.
WHERE ARE THE CPS TRAININGS LOCATED?
CPS Project Trainings are currently held online as a result of budget constraints (if you are or know someone willing and able to fund the lodging and travel expenses associated with an in-person training, please contact us). The training locations in the past were 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 lasts five days, Monday–Friday. Classes start every day at 8:30AM and go to approximately 6PM. (Some days end at 5:30PM and some days end at 7PM.) There is a 30 minute break for lunch. 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 EACH CPS TRAINING CLASS?
We accept approximately 35 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 email@example.com 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.
For in-person trainings (which are not currently offered), 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 ranged from $700 to $1000 for the 2 week stay (excluding weekends) prior to 2020. 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?
Training 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 LODGING SCHOLARSHIP?
Lodging scholarships are only available for in-person trainings, which are not currently offered as a result of budget constraints. Generally, lodging scholarship requests were made on the application for each training. There was also a section that asked you to explain how a scholarship would be helpful to you. Please keep in mind that scholarships were very limited and not everyone accepted to the training received a scholarship. Scholarships covered the cost of the hotel lodging. They did 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.