Attaining the NCRW Certification

The following steps outline the process for attaining the NCRW certification. (NOTE: You must be a member of The NRWA to earn the certification.)

1. Submit a sample resume and cover letter ($75 fee) to the CEU Admin Manager. To prepare your sample, download and study the NCRW Study Guide (member login required). The Study Guide contains an overview of resume writing guidelines, and your samples will be evaluated against these standards. You can pay your $75 sample submission fee by registering here. Your submission should contain:

  • A self-authored resume and cover letter in Word (save as .doc rather than .docx). The documents submitted must be in compliance with the NCRW Study Guide and The Gregg Reference Manual, 11th Edition. Note: If your sample submission is from one of your clients, fictionalize it before submitting.
  • A justification explaining the client’s job search objectives and target industry, as well as the strategies incorporated in your documents.

One NCRW grader will review your samples using the same criteria used when grading NCRW exams. Within 2-3 weeks, you will receive written feedback and an invitation to schedule a phone call to answer questions or clarify any suggestions. While the sample submission process is not limited to members pursuing certification, part of the feedback is a “Ready” or “Not Ready” recommendation to help you determine if you are ready to take the NCRW Exam. A “Ready” recommendation will award you 1 CEU, and you may earn up to 2 CEUs through sample submissions.

Important: A “Ready” recommendation is not required to move on to the NCRW Exam. However, some writers may find it helpful to submit multiple samples ($75 fee for each submission).

2. Report 10 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) that you have earned to the CEU Admin Manager. (CEUs expire after 3 years, so you must earn 10 CEUs within the 3 years prior to taking the NCRW Exam. Any CEUs earned more than 3 years ago do not qualify.) There are many ways to obtain approved CEUs.

3. Complete the two-part NCRW Exam. Once you have submitted at least one sample and documented 10 CEUs, you may take the exam. When you are ready to begin, pay the $250 exam fee by registering here. Contact the CEU Admin Manager to schedule the exam, which consists of:

  • Part 1: Proofreading Exam – The first part is a 1-hour timed proofreading exam. You are provided with a resume that is full of errors and asked to identify 25 specific mistakes within the hour. This portion of the exam is graded within 1-2 days.
  • Part 2: Resume and Cover Letter Writing Exam – For the second part, you will be given a candidate profile and asked to write a resume and cover letter based on the profile. The documents (both resume and cover letter) must be submitted to the Certification Chair in three formats: Word, PDF, and ASCII. You will have three days to complete the project, which is handled via email. Your documents will be reviewed by two graders.

If you fail Part 1 of the exam, you must wait 30 days to retake it ($50.00 fee). If you do not pass, we strongly recommend that you take a grammar course.

If you fail Part 2 of the exam, you must wait 30 days to retake it ($150.00 fee).


Maintaining Certification

NCRWs are required to earn 15 CEUs every three years and maintain continuous membership with The NRWA.



Not a member? Start the certification process by joining The NRWA!

"Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes. In the words of Tom Hanks, ‘If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.’ "


"A member of The NRWA for two years and a higher education career counselor for 10+ years, I had helped thousands of students with career planning and resumes. I was an exceptional counselor and resume writer… or so I thought. I had no fear and knew I would pass the NCRW review. Sadly, I was wrong. The graders’ comments were honest yet heartfelt, as I knew they wanted me to pass. 


Not one to accept failure, I called the President of The NRWA who encouraged me to reach out to the Certification Chair and members of the Certification Commission. An NCRW offered to mentor me, I attended the next conference, and took advantage of multiple training opportunities.


Certification has given me the confidence to start a small resume writing business, to accept a contract to train employment specialists at the Job Service and Montana Department of Labor, to submit my work for publication in books by industry experts, and to have more faith in my own abilities."

- Cheryl Minnick, NCRW


© The National Resume Writers' Association
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software