There are multiple certifications that economic developers can choose to pursue. The Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) is a designation through the International Economic Development Council and is the main certification that most pursue. In addition, the Professional Community & Economic Developer (PCED) designation is offered through the Community Development Institute. Lastly, some economic developers choose to achieve their EDFP from the National Development Council.  This blog post is going to focus on comparing the CEcD and PCED designations.

In March, I was able to attend the Community Development Institute’s (CDI) Year 1 course in the Woodlands of Texas. CDI has four different regions, each with its own (1) week of classes every year. These regions include Central (Arkansas), Midwest (Illinois), Northwest (Idaho), and Texas. For those of you thinking about attending this class, I definitely recommend it!

The whole week was full of informative overview classes lead by experienced economic developers and consultants. We also participated in a community development simulation and, most importantly, networked with a large crowd of peers. This was a four-day class that filled up the better part of each day. Some of the classes included Community Development Principles, Community Infrastructure, Strategic Visioning & Planning, Identifying and Developing Stakeholders, Leaders, & Volunteers, Economic Development Incentives, and Real Estate in Community Development.

One of my favorite aspects of CDI is that it really creates a community. There are plenty of group projects to share ideas and get to know your classmates, and breaks and meals to bond with CDI students of all levels. Also, the instructors were very knowledgeable and also have proven to be helpful contacts and mentors in the field.

Here are the differences between the process of attaining each certification:


Full Time ED Experience Required to Sit for Exam 4 years 3 years
Coursework IEDC or OU EDI Classes 3 week-long sessions
Exam Eligibility IEDC (4 core classes and 2 electives)

OU (117 course credits and 45 credits from OU EDI – a week long session)

8 points (3 of which are from coursework, the others are from experience)
Exam Part 1: Multiple choice, short answer, essay

Part 2: Interview by panel of economic developers

Multiple choice questions divided into 2 parts: (1) CDI Handbook (2) 3 case studies
Recertification Every 3 years – remain active in the field and participate in ED professional development activities Every 3 years – achieve 8 more points from the time of your last certification


In choosing a certification to pursue, one should decide what he or she is most interested in learning and mastering. If you are looking for more of an emphasis on economic development, then contemplate the CEcD. If you desire a more general view of community and economic development, then try to pursue the PCED. You will find that both certifications are worthwhile and that you learn different coursework in each.

Have you decided which certification avenue to take? Please share in the comments which certification(s) you have or are currently pursuing and why you made the decision to attain that particular designation.