Certified Cost Professional (CCP) Certification Guide: Salary, Jobs And How To Earn One

16 min read
CCP Certification Guide

Let’s be honest, who hasn’t been there? You carefully plan a project, down to the last detail, only to watch your budget disintegrate faster than a sandcastle in a hurricane. Perhaps it was a desire for a new kitchen which has turned into the renovation of the entire house, or a business investment that practically failed because of hidden costs. Hence, we’ve all been there! Becoming victims to the hopeless pursuit of cost managementCost Management is a skill not many are equipped with and businesses especially are constantly looking for certified cost management professionals. Here is where the Certified Cost Professional (CCP) certification shines through! It is considered to be a valuable credential for those looking to take their cost management skills to the next level. This means you’ll be well-versed in areas like cost estimating, budgeting, and project controls which are all essential tools for ensuring projects stay on track financially. Plus, this certification also complements other project management certifications

Therefore, whether you’re a seasoned professional in construction, engineering, or any industry where cost management is critical, the CCP certification can definitely prove to be a game changer. This is because it will help demonstrate to employers your commitment to excellence and equip you with the knowledge and skills to navigate the complexities of project finances.

In this complete CCP guide, we’ll take a dive into the specifics of this certification, including eligibility requirements, the exam format, and the valuable benefits it can provide for your career.

What Is The Certified Cost Professional Certification?

The Certified Cost Professional (CCP) certification is a prestigious credential awarded by the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACE International). It signifies the holder’s expertise in the critical field of cost management.

A CCP is not just someone who crunches numbers. They are experienced practitioners with a deep understanding of Total Cost Management (TCM). TCM goes beyond simply tracking project expenses, it encompasses the entire cost lifecycle of a project, from planning and estimation to execution and control.

Insights Into The Exam Structure

Here is a look at some essential details in relation to the CCP exam structure.

Exam Format  Multiple-choice and Compound, Scenario questions
No. Of Questions  120 Questions 
Exam Duration  5 Hours 
Passing Score  70%
Open Book? No

Certified Cost Professional (CCP) Exam Domains

Here are the key areas, defined by AACE, for their CCP exam that candidates can expect to be tested on. The respective dissection of questions has also been included: 

  • Basic Skills & Knowledge (38)
  • Economic Analysis (28)
  • Project Management (27)
  • Cost Estimating & Control (27)

What Is The CCP Certification Cost?

The Certified Cost Professional (CCP) exam cost is $525 (USD) for members and $690 (USD) for non-members.

This means that it is not necessary for you to have an AACE membership in order to take this exam. However, being a member, you will be able to enjoy reduced costs.

Resit Fees

In the event that you are unable to pass the exam, you will be required to pay $260 (USD) which is applicable to both members and non-members.

Benefits of the CCP Certification

Yes, one of the major perks of earning the CCP certification is how it might instantly boost your career, but there are many other benefits that might start to materialize once you have this certification backing you up. Hence, it is perhaps, fair to look at it as a form of investment in your professional career. If you’re intrigued, here is a more detailed look at the advantages of CCP certification

Potential Boost In Earning Power

It is no secret that with the increasingly competitive job market of today, a professional certification such as the CCP certification can set you apart. Studies conducted by AACE International actually indicate that the holders of the CCP certification are often in a better position to demand higher salaries. This is due to the improved level of knowledge and skills, evidenced by your certification, that can form the basis of higher salary negotiations.

Better Job Security And Marketability

Let’s face it! All different projects across various industries need successful budget management to be successful. Hence, there is consistently a rising demand for cost professionals. Therefore, it is safe to say that cost management has become a critical success factor as projects continue to become increasingly complex from construction and engineering to pharmaceuticals and technology.

Amidst all this, earning your CCP certification positions you as a valuable asset to prospective employers, boosting your job security and marketability in a dynamic job market. Furthermore, since there will always be a need to manage costs, this certification can help you land a sustainable job and prove that you are a firm supporter of continuous professional development. 

Improved Credibility And Recognition

The Certified Cost Professional (CCP) certification is globally recognized and indicates professional-level expertise in cost management. It proves to employers, clients, and colleagues that you carry the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively manage project costs. This, in turn, translates into improved credibility and professional recognition within your respective field. 

In addition to that, since this certification is recognized worldwide, you can easily land a job in cost management anywhere in the world.

Sharper Project Management Skills

If you take a look at the CCP exam curriculum, you’ll see that it takes a deeper look at the different complexities of project control, cost estimation, as well as economic analysis. Such a comprehensive knowledge base often translates into a significant boost to your overall project management skills. As a result, you will be better equipped to identify and mitigate cost risks, optimize project schedules, and ensure projects deliver value within their specified budgets. 

Read More: Types of Project Managers

Eligibility Requirements for the CCP Exam

The path to becoming a Certified Cost Professional isn’t open to everyone, but the good news is, that the eligibility criteria are achievable with the right combination of education and experience. AACE International has established clear requirements to ensure that certified professionals possess a solid foundation in cost management principles. 

Here is a breakdown of the key elements you’ll need to fulfill.

  • Educational Background:
    • A bachelor’s degree (4 years) in a relevant field such as engineering, construction management, finance, or business administration can provide a strong academic foundation for the CCP exam.
    • 4 years of experience in a related field. 
  • OR
    • If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, don’t despair! You can still qualify for the CCP exam with a minimum of eight years of relevant experience in cost engineering or a related field.
  • AND

2,500 minimum words technical paper

What constitutes "relevant cost engineering experience"?

AACE International defines relevant experience as demonstrably working in a role that utilizes cost engineering principles. This could encompass tasks like:

  • Preparing cost estimates for projects
  • Developing and implementing cost control systems
  • Analyzing project costs and identifying cost risks
  • Managing project budgets
  • Providing cost engineering support to project teams

It’s important to note that simply having worked in a cost-related field doesn’t automatically qualify. Your experience must demonstrate a strong foundation in the core principles of cost engineering and project controls.

Equivalency of Education and Experience

AACE International recognizes that valuable knowledge and skills can be acquired through various avenues. If you don’t possess a four-year degree but have extensive experience, you may still be eligible for the CCP exam. However, your experience must be demonstrably equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.

The CCP Certification Process: Your Step-By-Step Guide

So you’ve unlocked the eligibility requirements, familiarized yourself with the exam content, and gathered your study arsenal. Now comes the exciting part – embarking on the official CCP certification journey! Here’s a step-by-step breakdown to guide you through the process

Step 1: Gather Your Documentation

Before diving in, ensure you have all the necessary documentation readily available. AACE International outlines the specific requirements on its website, but here’s a general checklist to get you started:

  • Proof of Education: This commonly means presenting certificates such as transcripts or diplomas in regard to your education level. In the case of the academic and work experience equivalency, one might require more writing and/or attachments to back up his/her application. Visit AACE International to understand what the organization considers to be acceptable in terms of proof of equivalency.
  • Experience Verification: Employer’s recommendations, in the form of letters or statements, are very important especially when they detail your cost engineering experience. These should include the general nature of your work and assignments, the activities and steps you took to perform cost engineering any duties that you had undertaken for that company that required your abilities in cost engineering, and the time you served in those capacities. If you have followed different organizations in various positions, make sure to provide experience letters from all employers who contributed to your cost engineering profile.
  • Reference Letters: These are very important since they help you increase the credibility of your application by providing strong reference letters from your fellow colleagues or supervisors you work with and who are familiar with your cost management skills. The best recommendations should be from people who will testify to the ability to demonstrate cost engineering principles in actual practical situations. Get referrals from professionals who have observed your efforts in putting your knowledge into project cost control; cost estimations; or any other fields of interest to practice.

Step 2: Submit Your Online Application

Log into your account on the AACE International website and navigate to the CCP certification section. There, you’ll find a detailed application form requiring you to provide information about your education, experience, references, and any relevant certifications you already hold. Take your time filling out the application and ensure all details are accurate and up-to-date. Don’t forget to carefully review the application fees and submission deadlines before hitting submit.

Step 3: Schedule Your Exam

Once your application is reviewed and approved by AACE International, you’ll be eligible to schedule your CCP exam. AACE partners with various testing centers around the globe, offering you flexibility in choosing a location and time that suits your schedule. The AACE website provides a user-friendly interface for scheduling your exam, allowing you to select your preferred testing center, date, and time.

Maintaining Your CCP Credential

Remember, the CCP certification requires ongoing maintenance to ensure your skills stay current with industry trends. The Certified Cost Professional (CCP) certification is valid for three years, after which recertification is required. AACE International requires 12 continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain your CCP status. These activities can include attending workshops, conferences, or online courses related to cost engineering and project controls.

Certified Cost Professional (CCP) Certifications Jobs Prospect

Ultimately, the goal of adding a certification to your resume is that it can help boost your potential job prospects. The Certified Cost Professional (CCP) certification is no different. And with a growing emphasis on cost control across various industries, CCP holders find themselves enjoying high demand.

Here is a glimpse at some exciting jobs with the CCP certification

i) Project Cost Estimator

As a Project Cost Estimator, you will be bringing your cost-estimation expertise to the table and using it to develop accurate and reliable project budgets. This role focuses on analyzing project scope, identifying potential cost risks, and preparing detailed cost estimates for project stakeholders.

ii) Cost Engineer

As a cost engineer, your job will be to ensure project budgets remain intact and are complied with, ensuring they stay on track throughout the project lifecycle. This involves implementing cost control systems, monitoring project costs, identifying and mitigating cost risks, and proposing cost-saving measures.

iii) Cost Consultant

With your CCP expertise, you can become an independent consultant, offering your cost management skills to various clients across industries. You could assist companies in developing cost control strategies, conducting cost analyses, or providing training on cost engineering best practices.

iv) Project Manager

The CCP certification elevates your project management skills by equipping you with a deep understanding of cost control principles. This makes you a valuable asset for project management roles, where effective cost management is paramount to project success.

More On Project Management: 

Agile vs Scrum 

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Six Sigma vs PMP 

All You Need To Know About PMP 

Certified Cost Professional (CCP) Certification Salary Prospects

Let’s face it, career choices are often influenced by earning potential. While salary figures can vary depending on experience, location, and industry, studies by AACE International suggest that CCP holders generally command higher salaries compared to their non-certified counterparts. The CCP certification serves as a tangible validation of your expertise, making you a more attractive candidate to potential employers and justifying a higher compensation package.

As per Salary.com, the annual average salary for CCP certification is $120,000 to $220,500 (USD). The salary you earn depends on different factors such as prior experience, geographical location, educational background, and more.

CCP Salary By Job Roles

Here are all the different job roles you can pursue with the CCP certification and their related salaries. The following data has been estimated from Payscale

Job Title  Annual Average Salary 
Project Control Manager  $128,200
Chief Finacial Officer  $142,500
Cost Engineer  $104,121
Senior Cost Engineer  $106,232
Project Manager  $120,105
Project Control Analyst  121,998

Conquering the CCP Exam: Essential Preparation Tips

The Certified Cost Professional Certification is a professional-level certification. This means that passing it won’t be a walk in the park. You will need to prepare effectively and thoroughly in order to improve your chances of passing this exam on the first attempt. Here are some essential preparation tips for your CCP exam success

1. Study According to CCP Exam Guide

AACE International has provided a detailed exam outline for the CCP exam the content areas and their corresponding weightings. Familiarize yourself with this breakdown to understand the specific focus areas. We have covered the key domains above as well. 

Here is a potential strategy you can adopt: 

  • Focus on the High-Impact Sections: Dedicating more study time to sections like “Basic Skills and Knowledge” and “Economic Analysis” will optimize your preparation.
  • Don’t Neglect the Broader Knowledge: While focusing on the high-weighted areas, ensure you have a solid understanding of the remaining sections like “Cost Estimating and Control” and “Project Management”.

2. Utilize AACE International Resources

AACE International offers a wealth of official study materials specifically designed to prepare you for the CCP exam:

  • CCP Study Guide: This study guide is ideal for providing assistance to candidates in preparation for their CCP exam. In addition, it aids in developing general knowledge related to cost engineering that you will be expected to have as a certified cost professional. 
  • CCP Technical Paper Handbook: This comprehensive guide is a great resource to utilize when you’re in the process of writing your technical paper, which is a prerequisite in order to obtain this certification. It contains essential information related to guidelines on how to write your technical paper. 
  • Total Cost Management Framework: This publication covers extensively, the approach the managing costs throughout the lifecycle of a project or enterprise. This also includes some key AACE resources like recommended practice (RPs). 
  • AACE International Body of Knowledge (AACE BoK): The “Skills and Knowledge of Cost Engineering” is a great way to boost your knowledge for the CCP exam. It covers in-depth information on a variety of topics related to cost engineering. 

3. Explore Additional Preparations Materials

Complement your AACE International resources with additional study materials to enhance your preparation:

  • Practice Resources: Practice is quite a crucial part of the preparation process as it helps in the identification of potentially weaker areas and helps reinforce relevant understanding of underlying topics. Dumpsgate exam dumps prove to be a great practice resource.
  • Online Communities and Forums: Connecting with other CCP aspirants or experienced cost professionals online can provide valuable insights, study tips, and a supportive community during your preparation journey.

4. Develop a Structured Study Plan

Create a realistic study schedule that allocates dedicated time for each exam content area. Break down complex topics into manageable chunks and utilize various study methods such as flashcards, practice problems, and group study sessions (if applicable).

5. Sharpen Your Time Management Skills

The CCP exam is computer-based and time-bound. Practice managing your time effectively during practice exams to ensure you can complete all sections comfortably within the allotted timeframe.

Conclusion

The Certified Cost Professional (CCP) certification, as we have discussed throughout this guide, can be the boost you need to stand out and land your desirable job. Not only can it help you land high-paying jobs but also helps you grow professionally by enhancing relevant knowledge and skills. 

So, if you’re ready to conquer cost control challenges and boost your career forward, consider pursuing the CCP. Remember, the first step is always the hardest. Therefore, start exploring your options today!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Absolutely! The CCP certification demonstrates your expertise in cost management, a critical skill in today’s project-driven world. It can lead to increased earning potential, enhanced job security, and a more fulfilling career in cost control. Studies by AACE International show that CCP holders often command higher salaries compared to those without this certification.

The time it takes to prepare for the CCP exam varies depending on your educational background and experience. Generally, candidates with a strong foundation in cost engineering might require 3-6 months of dedicated study, while those with less experience may need to invest 6-12 months or more. AACE International offers a wealth of resources to help you prepare, including a CCP Handbook and recommended practices for cost engineering.

Yes, it’s possible to secure entry-level cost management roles without a CCP certification. However, the CCP credential significantly enhances your resume and demonstrates a commitment to professional excellence. It positions you as a more competitive candidate and opens doors to higher-level job opportunities with better-earning potential.

CCP exam candidates can benefit from accessing several helpful materials offered by AACE International. These include the CCP Handbook, Cost Engineering Reference documents – recommended practices for cost engineering and the AACE International Body of Knowledge (AACEI BoK). Moreover, most of the test preparation providers offer examination samples and other resources that may help you get acquainted with the type of questions that you are likely to encounter and the content domain of the test. Add to this the fact that you will have to independently search for information and forums where aspiring and experienced CCPs can assist in navigating the process.

The cost of the Certified Cost Professional (CCP) varies depending on if you’re an AACE member. Members have to pay $525 whereas non-members are required to pay $690 in order to take the exam.

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