Certified Management Consultant®
Frequently Asks Questions (FAQ)
These frequently asked questions often have been asked during the certification process and are organized here to amplify items in the IMC USA CMC® Application. The questions can be very specific to a unique situation.
For an overview of certification process for a Certified Management Consultant®, please go to How to Become Certified. You may download the IMC USA CMC® Application at the bottom of that web page and get help completing the application using short webinars
How to Become Certified FAQ on:
Continuing Professional Development for Renewal
How IMC USA Confirms to 3rd Parties Your CMC® Is Current
How do I determine if I am eligible to apply?
To decide to apply, review the three application streams
to determine your best fit, then download the application and use the point count table
for the appropriate stream to see if you meet the minimum requirements. If you meet the minimum you are elgible to apply, and you will need to document your consulting activities before submitting your application.
The CMC Certification Committee does not review partial applications. You must submit the application and pay the fee first, so correspondences with the Committee to confirm you are eligible beforehand will be politely returned saying you must determine your eligibility using the point count tables.
I want to be a consultant, how do I do that? It is a personal decision. Chapters of the Institute of Management Consultants offer Chapter meetings and our Institute presents courses to benefit consultants around the country. Go to the meetings, get to know the experienced consultants in the group and ask them. For solo practices and small firms, you need expertise, an ethical framework and the skill to manage a practice. Others join a large consulting firm, learn their craft and then start their own firm.
I have years of experience in management of complex projects and am transitioning to consulting to management, am I eligible for the CMC®? Not until you have at least three years of full time consulting to management experience and at least five satisfactory client evaluations.
Normally, at least three different engagements are required or an internal consultant has completed at least three internal projects for different senior managers.
I have a non-traditional consulting practice, can I apply. How do you define consulting to management and consulting activities?
The CMC Certification Committee uses this definition of management consulting to screen candidates for eligibility.
The Institute of Management Consultants USA believes in a sector-wide definition of management consulting:
"Management consulting is the providing to management of objective advice and assistance relating to the strategy, structure, management and operations of an organization in pursuit of its long-term purposes and objectives. Such assistance may include the identification of options with recommendations; the provision of an additional resource or the implementation of solutions.”
There is no requirement in the definition that the client's firm be of a certain size. The emphasis on providing objective, impartial advice to management.
We conform to the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI) definition of consulting activities:
"Currently active in consulting: able to demonstrate that in the last three years,management consulting has been a significant part of a candidates activity.This can include consulting with clients; selling, managing and / or supporting consulting activity; preparing for and teaching consultancy; publishing and writing on consultancy."
If you practice falls within the definitions of consulting and consulting activities, you are welcome to apply.
I live outside the United States of American? How can I become an IMCUSA CMC®? Go to the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes website at www.icmci.org to determine if there is an Institute in your country or region offering certification. If not, contact our Certification Administrator, firstname.lastname@example.org, who will advise you on the advantages of joining IMCUSA and how to to apply. IMCUSA can certify consultants, on a case by case basis, who have a close association and do business with firms in the United States as long as there is not an Institute in your country.
Since there are three streams - Basic, Experienced Consultant And Management - are there different versions of the CMC®?
No, the CMC® Certificate awarded is the same for all three streams and all candidates must complete the full application.
The three streams recognize that the CMC® Certification Committee has more detail on professionals with 10 or more years experience provided in the application. Therefore the Committee can make a judgment which exams the candidate takes. All candidates take a written ethics exam and during the Oral Examination make an engagement presentation (Section III), answer 13 mandatory questions on engagement management (Section IV) and answer questions on the Code of Ethics (Section V). The CMC® Certification Committee can waive online exam on competencies and Section VI of the Oral Examination on competencies for the Experienced Consultant Stream and Management Stream if the application and client evaluations establish the candidate’s competency. In the Basic Stream, the candidate must take all the exams.
Does one have to be at mastery level in the Competency Framework to be eligible for the CMC®?
In IMC USA's Competency Framework and Certification Scheme for Certified Management Consultants™, there are three levels of progression (Page 4) – early , advanced and mastery - all underpinned by professional behaviors and ethics. The competences presented set forth the knowledge, skills and behaviors required of successful management consultants over a long career. One does not need to be at the mastery level to apply for the CMC®. The developmental framework describes a consultant's growth for a full, lifetime career and the mastery level describes the behaviors and skills to strive for after about 15 years experience. The earliest a consultant is eligible to apply for the CMC® is at the transition from the early to the advanced developmental stage.
I belong to another Institute that awarded my CMC®. Can I transfer my CMC®to IMC USA?
If you live in the country whose Instittute awarded your CMC® and will be working temporarily in the United States, contact us to request reciprocity. We will confirm that you are a CMC®, an active member of your home Institute and then provide you a letter of reciprocity.
If you moved to the United States or live in a country without an Institute under ICMCI, you may apply to transfer your CMC® to the IMC USA.
The Certification Committee may ask you to complete the entire IMC USA CMC® Application process if your records are not available or you have a significant gap in your consulting work.
Reinstate a Lapsed CMC® Awarded by IMC USA
If your CMC® was originally awarded by IMC USA or was transferred to IMC USA, and you did NOT complete the triennial renewal, these are your options to reinstated your CMC®.
If you let your CMC® expire, the Certification Committee may not accept the special circumstances and decline to reinstate. In this case, your fee would be returned.
For CMC® reinstatement 3-9 years after expiration, submit the Recertification Form meeting all requirements for the last three years and explain any special circumstances. Cost: current renewal fee and an additional $100. The CMC® Certification Committee may request new client evaluations.
For CMC® reinstatement 10+ years after expiration, submit a new CMC® application with new client referrals and explain any special circumstances. The CMC® Certification Committee may request new client evaluations, new written or oral examinations. Costs: CMC® Application fee.
Completing the Application - Process Overview
Where can I obtain the IMC USA CMC® Application? You may download the IMC USA CMC® Application on the How to Become Certified page at the bottom.
I completed an older version of the CMC® Application and am ready to submit it; do I need to enter the information into the most recent version? No, the Certification Adminstrator will notify you if you need to append any detail to older verison after it is received by IMC USA staff. We understand you carefully craft your application and there is no issue if your version number has been superceded.
What is different about the process for the three tracks (basic, experienced and senior management)? All candidates for the CMC® complete the same application. For the experienced and senior management tracks, the CMC Certification Committee may waive the core-competency on-line examination section and the core-competency oral examination section if the application and client evaluations confirm competency.
How do I submit my application electronically? Please complete the MS Word document by filling in the form fields and scan the documents requested (PDF preferred but JPG is okay). Most applications come in as a ZIP file.
How long does the process take?
Best case it takes about two months, usually 3 1/2 months.
You control how long it takes to complete the application and include your documentation. Once received by our Certification Administrator, it takes about one week to confirm your data and invite the individuals you indentified to complete an on-line client evaluation. The invitation is sent by email from imcusa.org. Our experience is we'll see the five responses within one week.
The Certification Administrator will contact you for any missing information and then provide you with a user ID and password to take the on-line examination with two 1 1/2 hour sessions, one on ethics and one on core competencies. Our experience is candidates take about three weeks to finish the exams. The Certification Administrator then will submit your package to the CMC Certification Committee for the first review the third Friday of the month.
The Committee will review the application and if you are eligible for the examination phase, will send you the user ID and password for the on line exams. Once you pass the on-line exam(s), the Certification Administrator will setup the Oral Examination Panel, conducted by CMCs who volunteer their time and live close to your home. On occasion, a phone or video conference panel will be setup when there are not enough CMCs located close to you.
The Chapters set up the panel (at large members' panels are setup by the Certification Chair). This is the most time consuming step, to coordinate your and their schedules for the Oral Examination.
These panels are usually conducted within six weeks and then those results are presented to the CRC for final review the third Friday of the month.
Typically, it takes about 3 1/2 months to finish the process.
Completing the Application - Point Counts
Does IMC USA offer professional training to earn points leading to certification? Yes, our Academy offers a virtual course teaching the fundamentals of management consulting, "Mastering Management Consulting" that awards 12 points to the Education requirements in the application. The 16 sessions (12 topics) in the virtual course are offered live and as recordings. Contact the Chair of the Academy, Loraine Huchler, P.E., CMC®, FIMC to find out the current and future schedule for the live and recorded sessions.
Does teaching a course (or seminar) on professional development that benefits a consultant count for professional development points on application? Yes. This is common for consultants with more experience.
I do not have a bachelors degree but have completed college courses. Can those courses count for Continuing Professional Development (CDP) to earned the required 12 CDP points for a candidate without a bachelors degree?
No. CDP points are earned after one completes a bachelors degree. If you do not have a degree, you need to demonstrate in the last five years that you have improved you consulting skills in the same activities that candidates with a bachelors degree participate. Consultants are expected to follow a life time process of continuing education.
Completing the Application - Formal Education
CMC applicants can only claim academic degrees from colleges or universities accredited at the institutional or specialty level by accreditation bodies recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education or a similar body in the case of international degrees. Applicants will be required to demonstrate this accreditation status if a claimed degree granting institution is not known to the CMC Committee.
Completing the Application - Client Evaluations for A Professional Credential
What is in the Client Evaluation? A copy of the on-line evaluation is provided in the application package. Your clients are asked to rate your expertise to perform your engagement, on-time delivery, that you met your agreed purpose, your professionalism and their overall satisfaction. Most of the client evaluation must be from officers or executives of client organizations you served within the last five years.
When does IMC USA's National Office forward the invitations to complete the Client Evaluation? The Certification Administrator will notify you by email to notify you references to expect the email invitation for a specific imusa.org address and again when the invitations are sent. It is appropriate to then call your references to alert them to the invitation email and if necessary, have them search for "@imcusa.org" in their spam software. Since late 2010, we are recieving feedback that about 20% of the invitations to provide a client evaluation on-line are not getting through so please be assertive with your clients.
Can I forward the Client Evaluations to my clients? No, you are only allowed to request six references at a time. The Certification Administrator tracks the client evaluation process.
A reference does not complete the Client Evaluation? This is less common now that IMC USA is using an on-line process, but it does happen.
First the Certification Administrator will attempt to call and fax or send by PDF a "paper" version of the evaluation if the online version is not completed. Once confirmed that all the references received the evaluation, the Committee will wait to see if the references will respond. After a reasonable wait, the Certification Administrator will notify you for another reference. If all else fails and you lack just one evaluation to move ahead, the Certification Administrator will mail the reference a paper version of the evaluation certified mail with a postage paid return envelope.
Our 30 years history with this process taught us the highest response rate is the online evaluation which is very easy to complete. The certified mail version is seldom returned and indicates you may have picked the wrong reference.
What if my reference does not receive email or their corporate spam software will not let them receive the invitation email? If they tell you that email will not work, then notify the Certification Administrator who will mail them the same form included in your application. Coordinate with the Certification Administrator.
What if my reference changed jobs or retired? That is common today, so track them down at their new email and regular mail address. The evaluation asks where was the work completed. It is not a problem if they changed jobs or retired.
I am an internal consultant. How can I complete the client evaluations and engagement summaries? The three engagement summaries should describe three different projects completed for your firm or a combination of internal and customer assignments. The five client evaluations should be completed by members of your firm at the director level or above or a combination of client evaluations from internal projects and from customers, again at the director level or above.
Complete the Application - Part Three Questions 1 to 15 on Engagement Management
There are fifteen questions about how you manage your practice, used by the CMC Certification Committee to determine if you are eligible to apply for the CMC®. You are also asked to provide three to five Engagement Summaries. The 15 questions are your self-description and the Engagement Summaries are the results of your client work.
How much detail to I provide for the answers to questions 1 to 15? Please keep your answers to each concise, usually two to four well written sentences. The Oral Examination Panel will use some of your answers to frame their questions.
Completing the Application - Engagement Summaries
The CMC® candidate must provide at least three written case studies of client engagements (disguised to protect client identity). In the formal application, these are referred to as case studies or as engagement summaries. The Oral Examination Panel will ask you to present one engagement summary and will base some questions on the details you provide.
Where are the engagement summaries forms in the application? Three engagement summary forms come after the consent form/ethic pledge and before the IMC USA Code of Ethics.
Why does the application ask for three to five engagement summaries of client engagements?
You must submit at least three engagement summaries to a maximum of five summaries. Each summary counts as two points to qualify. It may be to your advantage to prepare five engagement summaries.
Some applicants' projects are brief, lasting just a few days. The Oral Examination Panel discussions on practice management and core competencies draw from the case studies for detail. If your engagements are brief, very focused, then submitting five case studies may better demonstrate your professionalism. It is critical that the engagement summaries demonstrate how you provide management objective advice and assistance relating to the strategy, structure, management and operations of an organization in pursuit of its long-term purposes and objectives. Engagements that last just a few hours, that involve sales of a product or that do not demonstrate a breath of consulting to management may cause your application to be declined.
There are only three engagement summary forms in the application, how do I complete two more? Use the same format from the application in a separate document and include it in your application. Most applications are submitted as a ZIP file and are combined into one PDF by the Certification Administrator.
How much detail do I provide for the engagement summary? The application is a MS Word form and you can provide as much detail as you consider necessary. Typically, by following the case study format in the application, each case study is one to two pages in length.
Completing the Application - Forwarding It to IMC USA's National Office
How do I sign the application since it is a Word File? Please print the consent page, sign it and send a scanned copy with your Application files.
Do I need to consolidate all the files into one PDF file? That is preferred but you may send the electronic files (usually in a ZIP file) in separately and the Certification Administrator will combine them into a single PDF file. You can also copy the files to a CD or DVD and mail them to the Certification Administrator. The instructions are in the application.
The examinations are timed (45 minutes) and have two sections: the first is the Ethics section consisting of 20 multiple choice questions. The Ethics section presents scenarios where one applies the Code of Ethics and the values therein, selecting the correct answer using common sense and experience.The next section is a 20 multiple choice question exam on the core competencies of management consulting.
Who sets me up for the online examination? The Certification Administrator will send you instructions, a user ID and password by email after five satisfactory client evaluations have been received and the first Committee review for eligibility is completed.
How do I study for the on-line examination? Download links for the core study materials are located on the bottom of the page under "Certification Study Materials for On-Line Exam".
Is the examination closed book? No, you may use study materials during the exam. Our experience is most candidates will fail the on-line examination sections if they have not studied the core study materials beforehand.
Are the exams available online 7/24, how long do I have to complete them? Candidates who have been assigned a user id and password can take the exams anytime (7/24) for up to one year. If the candidate does not take the exam after one year, their CMC application is suspended (please contact the Certification Administrator).
What if I fail a section of the on-line examination? You may retake the exam several times. Successive failures will be brought to the attention of the CMC Certification Committee Chair, who will determine if you may continue or if the application will be suspended.
May the on-line examination be waived? The Ethics section may not be waived. The CMC Certification Committee may waive the core-competency section for applicants in the experienced and management streams.
The objective of the Oral Examination is to determine if the CMC® candidate is fully qualified to represent our profession as a Certified Management Consultant®. The three examiners are looking for a positive answer to the ultimate question: "Would you want this person to represent you, your practice, and IMC USA to your clients?”
How is the Oral Examination Scheduled? After an initial application review by the CMC Certification Committee and passing the on-line examination, the Certification Administrator notifies the Certification Chair for the IMC USA Chapter closest to your home. The Certification Chair contacts you to schedule a date acceptable to you and the volunteer panelists, who are senior CMCs.
What if an in-person Oral Examination cannot be scheduled? A phone or SKYPE conference panel can be scheduled, with the help of the Certification Administrator. However, our experience is that the in-person panel provides a better setting to judge the candidate and for the candidate to get feedback from the panelists.
What are the sections of the Oral Examination? Each candidate must successfully:
Present a client engagement, one of the case studies (15 minutes)
Answer questions about the conduct of client engagements (30 minutes)
Answer questions about ethical issues (45 minutes)
Answer questions about management consulting core competencies (45 minutes)
How do I prepare for the Oral Examination? The panelists are looking for a knowledgeable, skilled, experienced professional consultant who:
Provides an effective presentation that is clear and engaging,
Demonstrates they understand and practice ethical behavior, and
- Exhibits the breadth and depth of experience, knowledge and judgment necessary to plan, analyze, organize, summarize, and recommend to management an effective (data based) course of action. A thorough understanding of the IMC USA's Competency Framework - CMC® Certification Scheme is expected,
The Oral Examination is not an informal interview; our expectation is that you will present or respond to our questions as you would to a client.
Candidates who failed the Oral Examination often did not:
- Demonstrate a "gut understanding" of the Code of Ethics, as a consultant individually and as a consultant managing a team of consultants.
- Review their application before the oral exam day, particularly the answers to the 15 questions and their engagement summaries. The examiners will either ask you to present one of your engagement summaries they select or ask you to present one of you engagement summaries you select.
- Study similar questions to those in the Oral Examination, found in IMC USA's Competency Framework - CMC® Certification Scheme starting at page 28.
- In question 5 on page 14 of the CMC application, did not review in the Competence Framework activities where the candidate has little experience either in the activity or leading a team for the activity. The candidate should not assume their sector specialization or role on a team has prepared them to all questions in the oral exam.
Study materials for the Oral Examination are listed at the bottom of this page.
May the Oral Examination be waived? The CMC Certification Committee may waive only the core-competency section for applicants in the experienced and management streams.
What if I fail the Oral Examination or a section of the Oral Examination? Normally, the candidate is invited to repeat the Oral Examination sections that were not passed after a time period of study. Work with the Chapter Certification Chair to have a mentor. Please remember that IMC members volunteer their time for the certification process and candidates with numerous challenges completing the process may be asked to suspend their application until they have more experience. The CMC Certification Committee can decline to recommend approval, most often when the candidate's work does not meet the definition of consulting to management.
Dormant CMC® Applications
CMC® application dormant for more than 12 months will pay an additional $100 fee to reactivate their application.
Continuing Professional Development Points
Do academic courses or other education events outside the USA count for Continuing Professional Development for the CMC Triennial Renewal? Of course, use either the contact hours 1 point per 3 hours for seminars, workshops, or educational programs or for university or college semester
courses (based on 2 semester per year, 2 points per semester credit) or 1.3 points per quarter credit. Please explain on the renewal form how you determined the points.
Can I Appeal if I am not certified as a CMC®? Yes, to the Board of Directors of IMC USA. Download the appeal form on the bottom of the page under "Certification Application & Renewal Documents" at www.imcusa.org/certhow and submitted it to the Executive Director of IMC USA, 2025 M Street, NW Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036.#
How IMC USA Confirms to 3rd Parties Your CMC Is Current
3rd Parties can confirm a CMC® is current by:
- searching for your IMC USA profile online using a search engine like Google or the search box on www.imcusa.org
- calling or emailing our National office
- searching for your CMC® certificate number using the search box on www.imcusa.org
As long as you pay your CMC® Annual charge by Dec 31st for the next calendar your and complete the re-certification process every third year, you profile confirming you are a CMC® is available online.
If you are not current, your profile is not accessible online.
If you are not current, and a 3rd party emails or calls to confirm you are current, we respond simply "The CMC® is not current" (and notify you if your CMC lapsed in the current calendar year).
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