Certification Program FAQ

Below are the most commonly-asked questions regarding the IACA's Certified Law Enforcement Analyst (CLEA) Program. If after reviewing this FAQ you have other questions about the program, please contact the certification committee.


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What is IACA certification?

It is a credentialing program designed to set a basic standard of excellence for crime analysts, by crime analysts. It sets a standard of achievement for working analysts who are looking for additional recognition and advancement within the field.

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Do I need to get certified?

Professional certification is not required in order to be a working crime analyst. It is up to you, and possibly up to the agency for which you work, to weigh whether or not certification will benefit you and help you to meet your professional goals.

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What are the benefits of IACA certification?

There are many benefits to becoming a certified analyst, including:

  • Working to meet the certification standards will help the analyst to identify skill and knowledge areas where he or she may need improvement.
  • CLEA status brings peer recognition and status.
  • Certification may make the analyst more marketable. Having achieved a standard set by fellow analysts, the individual will have a valuable addition to add to his or her resume when looking for an analyst position. Some employers list CLEA status as a preference.
  • Some CLEAs have received additional stipends from their agencies.
Becoming a CLEA allows you to contribute to the profession. Certification sets standards for analytical performance; these standards increase the status of analysts and help better inform police managers and policy-makers about the profession. As more analysts become certified, these benefits become more noticeable.

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Will I get a raise or a better job if I am certified?

There are no guarantees that anyone who is certified by the IACA will (1) receive a pay raise or (2) be hired by an agency as a crime analyst. Hiring decisions and criteria are determined by the hiring entity, not by the IACA.

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What is the certification process?

The process begins with completing an application for certification. You will need to submit proof that you meet the necessary point threshold, as well as documentation supporting the required 3 years of experience. At least two members of the Certification Commission review all applications and contact you regarding approval.

Qualified applicants will be able to sit for the exam, which will be administered at the IACA Training Conference, other regional crime analysis association conferences, and/or at other sites determined to be appropriate by the Certification Commission. Once the exams are reviewed and scored, the applicant will be contacted personally by a member of the Certification Commission regarding passage.

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Who set the standards for certification?

The standards for certification were set by the IACA Certification Committee, comprised of crime analysis professionals from every region of the United States. These individuals were selected to serve on the committee as representatives of their regions and because of their interest in contributing to the certification process. Two members of the most recent Certification Committee are now members of the Certification Commission that administers the certification program.

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Who can get certified?

To qualify to take the certification exam, applicants must be members of the IACA and have three years of working experience as a crime or intelligence analyst in a local, state or federal law enforcement agency. The applicant must attain a qualifying number of points based on a point system devised by the IACA. The point system is based on various types and levels of education and experience. Applicants who have the minimum number of required points will be considered qualified to take the exam. The exam measures skill set knowledge and ability, and students must achieve a passing grade in all 20 sections in order to pass the exam.

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I do the work of an analyst, but my job title is not “Crime Analyst".

Qualifying experience will be judged on a case-by-case basis by the IACA Certification Commission. However, the applicant must have 3 full-time years of analytical experience. This may include internships and volunteer work, and time can be combined and/or prorated.

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What are the educational requirements for certification?

The point system is set up in a way that allows analysts to earn points for experience and/or education, but there is no minimum education requirement. An analyst can reach the 100-point threshold with no college degree at all, but he or she would need a lot of experience and other supplemental things such as classes taught, conference presentations, analysis-related training, etc. The IACA Certification Committee wanted to ensure that people with education do not have an advantage over people with more experience, and vice versa; therefore, the point system was structured to reflect that.

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Why are there so many requirements to get certified?

The point system was designed to achieve parity among different types of analysts: those who have more experience in law enforcement without much college-level education, and those who have more college-level education than law enforcement experience. The IACA recognizes that high-quality analysts come from diverse backgrounds. The various requirements identified by the IACA Certification Committee challenge the applicant to meet a meaningful standard of achievement. The title of Certified Law Enforcement Analyst is not intended to be a "rubber stamp," but rather a standard toward which new and senior analysts strive. If we allow the standards to be lower so that almost any working or non-working analyst can achieve certification, the achievement inherently loses its value.

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How can I study for the exam?

The exam questions will are based on the chapters of Exploring Crime Analysis (second edition), published in 2009. Each of the 20 skill sets corresponds to one or more chapters in the handbook, and many of the exam questions came directly from the authors of these chapters. Note that the material covered on the exam is non-proprietary and can be learned through a variety of resources, including job experience. The exam was designed in a way that a crime analyst with diverse, comprehensive analytical experience and training would be able to do well without too much studying. There is also a study guide for the exam.

Training on specific skill set items is also being offered through the IACA Professional Training Series, and the Certification Commission offers workshops at each Annual Training Conference as well as many local association conferences.

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How is the exam administered?

The exam is administered electronically, through the eCollege online learning platform. The question formats are multiple choice, true-false, and fill-in-the-blank. Once your application has been approved and you have received confirmation on where and when you will take the exam, the Certification Commission will acquire a user name and password so that you can log in and take the exam online.

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How much does it cost to get certified?

There is a non-refundable fee of $150 to submit your application for review and to take the certification exam. For further information on fees, please see the Certification Program Outline.

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When can I get certified?

The certification exam is offered annually at the IACA Training Conference. It is also offered at other regional crime analysis conferences, such as those planed by the California and Arizona associations, based on demand. Contact the IACA Certification Commission for more information on specific dates and locations.

It is also possible for you to take the exam at your own agency, with a proctor approved by the IACA Certification Commission. If you would like to arrange a date and a proctor, please submit your application and then discuss this option with the commission member who contacts you.

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Will there be other levels of certification in the future?

At this time, there are no plans for development of additional levels of certification. The current Certification Commission, comprised of certified analysts, is not opposed to the idea of advanced and/or specialist levels of certification someday. However, the success of the basic certification and the demand for additional levels must be assessed before any work is done toward development.

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