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What Counts for CMP?

CMP Strategy – Continuing Education—What Counts for CMP?

By Joanne Dennison, CMP

If someone wants to apply for the CMP or recertify, one of the requirements for most applicants, is 25 hours of continuing education. Three of the most common points of confusion are:

  • What is a continuing education hour?
  • What content counts?
  • Where can I get continuing education that “counts?”

The following attempts to dispel some of the CMP Program myths and give CMP candidates and those recertifying their designation a clear understanding of what they need to know and do.

What Is An Hour?

An hour, which is called a clock hour on the applications, may also be called a “contact hour” or “classroom hour.” A clock hour is one hour spent in a structured learning environment, for example with a presenter, instructor, facilitator, discussion leader, or panel. It can be in person or virtual. It does not include trade shows, recreation or entertainment (unless there is a structured learning component), or committee meetings.

A structured learning environment should have measurable learning objectives listed specifically in the description of the session. This will also help when determine what content will count for CMP credit.

CEUs (Continuing Education Units) are sometimes used interchangeably with clock hours. The International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) developed the Continuing Education Unit (CEU) in 1970 and is the caretaker of the CEU. But the term “CEU” often causes confusion with CMP candidates because the true definition of “CEU” is calculated differently than a “clock hour.” But there is an easy way to determine your continuing education hours no matter what the unit is called: EIC awards continuing education on an hour-for-hour basis down to the quarter hour. Therefore, if you participate in an activity that is 90 minutes, you will report 1.5 CE hours on your application. It is that easy.

What Content/Topics Count?

This question has become a big one since the CMP-International Standards (CMP-IS) went into effect in 2012. The reality is that the requirements are not that different then they were under the former CMP Blueprint.

The CMP Blueprint was the body of knowledge for the CMP, based on the 27 Functions of Meeting Planning. This outline is updated every five years based on changes in the meetings industry.. If you applied, or recertified prior to 2012, your continuing education had to pertain to one of the 27 functions.

When the CMP-IS was put into place, it replaced the 27 Function Blueprint. The required areas of knowledge are now in the 9 Domains of the CMP-IS. This too was designed in response to updates to the knowledge needed to be a successful meeting professional. All continuing education now has to pertain to one of the 9 Domains. On the application it must be noted which Domain to the activity aligns with. The complete CMP-IS is on the Event Industry Council website. Those completing an application, can easily find the correct Domain in the CMP-IS.

Some of the time it is very easy to see what Domain a program pertains to, because it is right in the title of the presentation. For example a session called “Handling Risk” is going to fall in Domain C-Risk Management. When it is not as obvious, it should be in the description and learning objectives for each educational session attended. If you cannot find the connection between the skills in the Domains and the learning objectives of the program, it most likely does not count for CE credit.

Where Can I Get Continuing Education that “Counts”?

Many of us get our clock hours by attending industry events sponsored either by our professional associations or by corporations such as hotel and media companies. Continuing education can also be found through colleges or community organizations. As long as it is a structured learning environment and the learning objectives fit the Domains, it counts. the activity cannot be a promotion for any organization or its products or services, although it can be sponsored by anyone.

The CMP office at EIC does not have to approve each session before it is offered. It is up to the applicant to choose the right sessions that fulfill a subject area in the CMP-IS Domains. If the sponsoring organization wants to have their attendees to receive CE credits for their offerings, they need to be familiar with the CMP-IS Domains, and pick the topics and presenters accordingly. If they want it to be very “user friendly” for the attendee they should make sure the learning objectives clearly show how it fits into the Domains, and can list the Domain with the session.

Now EIC has introduced the CMP Preferred Provider. Classes offered and indicated as pre-approved, will automatically be accepted. In fact if you register with the same email for the educational session, as the email you have on file at EIC, it will be downloaded automatically, pre-approved, into your EIC transcript.

Again—education can be accepted from other sources that a CMP Preferred Provider as long as it meets the requirements above. In the end, however, the applicant is the one responsible for making sure they are familiar with the CMP-IS, look for continuing education that fulfills the subject area, and completes the application correctly.

I hope I have cleared up some of the myths and rumors with this article, and have provided clear steps on how to fill in your CMP exam or recertification application.


Joanne Dennison, MSEd, CMP is passionate about educating in the meetings and events profession. She has taught CMP preparation courses for 18 years in North America and even China and Thailand. Her free video Study and Test Tips are YouTube. Contact her for information about upcoming classes at

(Updated March 2018)

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Meet Joanne

About Joanne Dennison, MSEd, CMP

Joanne Dennison has owned her own business for more than 25 years which originally focused on the planning of meetings and events. Returning to her roots as an educator, she now spends more of her time in the front of the meeting room. Her speaking takes her into two different worlds.

Through one division of her company, The MeetGuide, she is best known for being an expert educator in the event and meeting planning field, having presented throughout the US in addition to Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, China and Thailand. Joanne has presented for 18 years at Meeting Professionals International (MPI) events including World Education Congresses, Professional Education Conferences and 10 different chapters. She has also presented for other meeting and event industry organizations including the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP), Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA), International Special Events Society (ISES), American Society of Training and Development (ASTD), Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), International Association of Conference Centers-North America, and the Society of Association Executives in New Jersey, Michigan and Delaware Valley .In addition she has presented at events sponsored by Smart Meetings Magazine and EMC Venues.

Through her own company Joanne has provided intensive Meeting and Event classes that include preparation for the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) exam since 2000. She is known for her intensive courses, which people find educational for the exam, applicable to their job, and so engaging and high energy she has been told the time passes quickly. People have chosen to take class more than once because they find it to be so worthwhile.

At her clients’ request, Joanne expanded to include personal and professional development topics. She has been affectionately tagged “The Guidance Counselor for Grown Ups” where she works with individuals and organizations to answer “What’s Next?”.

Joanne has a Master’s of Science in Education and earned her CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) in 1996. She has recertified three times by continuing to work, be involved in and take continuing education in the industry. She has attended many of the Convention Industry Council CMP Conclaves, held every year, to stay current on the changes in the CMP exam. She most recently attended the 2016 Conclave in September.

She is a proud Member of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) since 1994 and served in many chapter leadership positions including President. She earned her membership in the National Speakers Association (NSA) in 2001 and remains a member.

Most fun fact? She once appeared as the event planner on a Food Network television show.



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Guiding You Through CMP

Attending the CMP Boot Camp in Orlando, Florida taught by Joanne Dennison was beyond helpful…Joanne has an amazing way of taking a difficult topic and giving you real life examples that make it stick in your head forever. Having a difficult time remembering the different food services such as American, French and Russian? Well I assure you will never forget it after you attend this boot camp. I would highly recommend someone take this class before they even begin studying for the exam. They will learn how to focus their time effectively and appropriately.

Working with Joanne one on one was priceless…I wish that all potential CMP’s had the opportunity to take Joanne’s CMP Boot Camp before taking the exam. This session has so much information to share with all levels of the industry.

– Trina Avalos, CMP

Guiding Your Group

I was lucky to have worked with Joanne as she conducted a great program for SGMP NATCAP on Copyright Issues. She had the crowd’s attention and from the session I was able to use her tools and techniques for my current position. Joanne is a great speaker to work with.

– Quinn Bruster, CGMP

Guiding Your Career

Joanne is one of my mentors in the meeting planning industry. Joanne was my CMP Study group instructor (2003). Joanne guided me so much to gain my CMP designation. I reach out to Joanne whenever I need an advice or guidance on any type of meeting management issues I some time run in to. She always helps with me without hesitation and sometimes goes above and beyond by directing me to the right place.

Joanne also has a great eye for the best talent. She has recommended several planners to us in the past.

Joanne is someone I look up to in the industry (past president of MPI) and admire. She has tremendous talent and a whole lot of experience. Anyone trying to take your CMP exam make sure to contact Joanne as she is the best.

– Saira Banu Kianes, CMP

Joanne’s experience as a business owner and as an educator give her a unique perspective on how to get the most out of meetings. Her down-to-earth yet creative viewpoint makes meetings she designs effective and memorable. I’ve worked with Joanne for several years in various capacities and under some challenging circumstances. I look forward to the next opportunity to work with her.

– JoAnn Mitchell, CMP

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Joanne’s Video

Watch Joanne introduce The Ordinary Success Project:

If you liked this video and want to talk with Joanne, contact her today!

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