How to Become a CAWA
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Our Certification testing program is currently being revamped.  During this time you won't be able to schedule the CAWA exam.  You are still able to apply for certification and submit the necessary eligibility requirements, see instructions below. 


In order to achieve CAWA Certification, all applicants must meet the eligibility requirements, demonstrated through an online application process, and pass the written CAWA Exam. The applicant should determine his/her own eligibility before submitting an application to the program. For complete program details, please download our Applicant Guide.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements must be met, without exception in any circumstances. To be eligible to take the CAWA exam, applicants must satisfy all of the following requirements by the date of application:

  1. A minimum of 5 years of work experience, within 10 years prior to the date of CAWA Program application, as a high-level manager of a not-for-profit or government organization, of which at least 3 years of work experience must be
    at an organization that provides sheltering and/or field services for animals.

    A “high-level manager” is defined as either a CEO or other paid staff who are within the following degrees of separation from the CEO:

    • 2 Degrees, in organizations with fewer than 250 full-time equivalents (FTEs)

    • 3 Degrees, in organizations with 251-500 FTEs; and

    • 4 Degrees, in organizations with 501 or more FTEs.

  2. A minimum of 5 years of work experience managing paid staff in any field.

              Work experience satisfying requirements above can be concurrent.         
              Educational experience may not be used to substitute for any of the work  
              experience eligibility requirements.

  3. Agree to abide by The Association of Animal Welfare Advancement Code of Ethics.

There is no requirement of an academic degree or continuing education activity for initial certification eligibility.

Eligibility to take the CAWA exam shall be valid for one year from the date of the eligibility notice.

Applying for Certification  

To apply, please email to request a log in at the CAWA certification program portal.

Once you begin your application, you will need to supply information related to your applicable employment experience, including contact information for a supervisor for each role.  Supervisors will be asked to provide verification of your role and employment dates through an automated web-request.  You can begin completion of your application and come back to finish it at a later date.

A graduated exam fee structure provides significant discounts for submitting applications early in each cycle.  Applications must be completed and submitted by the final date of the open application period. Late applications will not be accepted.

Approximately fifteen business days after your application is received—during which time your employment history will be verified and your eligibility will be determined—The Association will notify you of your eligibility status.  

Eligible candidates will be provided with logistical details related to the exam. Applicants who are deemed ineligible may appeal that determination to Appeals Committee of The Association Certification Council by emailing


CAWA Certification Exam Fees

2018 Exam fees

Member rate:  $365   
Non-member rate:  $730
Re-examination fee (if you tested within the past two years):  $250 member / $480 non-member

To take advantage of the Member rate, applicants must be a Member of The Association in good standing when the application is submitted; the difference between the Member and nonmember rate will not be refunded if a membership is subsequently purchased by an applicant who was a nonmember at the time of application. For more information regarding membership in The Association, please visit the Membership page.

“Retesting Applicants” are those individuals who have previously taken the CAWA certification exam but did not pass. Retesting Applicants must re-apply within two (2) years of their original eligibility and must meet the eligibility requirements now in effect, but pay a reduced exam fee.

The CAWA Certification Exam Fee is nonrefundable if the applicant is deemed ineligible. Applicants are encouraged to review the eligibility requirements thoroughly and ask us questions (via email to before submitting your application if you are unsure whether you are eligible.

Testing Sites
The Association has made an exciting change in its CAWA certification testing process.  The CAWA exam will now be available via computer-based testing centers around the world at a network of secure testing centers.  Candidates will now make application for the CAWA exam for a specific testing “window.”   Candidates who are approved will be able to test at the location, date and time of their choosing during the selected “window.” 
Applications continue to be made via The Association’s Certification Portal.  Once an application is submitted for final review and fees paid, the application will be reviewed for eligibility.  Candidates will then be sent either a request for additional information or an Authorization to Test (ATT) email that gives them instructions on how to make their own personal testing appointment, once the exam has been re-opened.

Special Accommodations

Reasonable special accommodations for administration of the CAWA exam will be made for eligible candidates with documented disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.)  Only those accommodations that do not, in The Association’s sole discretion, compromise the validity of the exam results will be approved.  If circumstances indicate that administration of the CAWA certification exam would jeopardize the security of exam materials or the integrity of exam results, The Association may cancel the administration of the exam.

If special accommodation is requested, supporting documentation from a licensed or otherwise properly credentialed healthcare professional who possess expertise in the disability for which the modifications or accommodations are sought, must accompany the application.  For accommodation requests based on mental or cognitive impairment, supporting tests must have been conducted within five (5) years prior to the date of the accommodations request.  Contact if a you would like more information on Special Accommodations.

Cancellation Policy

The CAWA Certification Exam Fee is nonrefundable under any circumstances.  If an applicant cancels at least seven (7) calendar days before that applicant’s scheduled exam date, The Association will apply the fee that applicant paid towards a subsequent CAWA application received by The Association within one (1) year of the original scheduled exam date.  Cancellations received later than seven (7) calendar days before an applicant’s scheduled exam date (including if an applicant is a no-show at the scheduled exam administration) shall result in a complete forfeiture of the Exam Fee by that candidate, with no opportunity to defer the fee to a subsequent application cycle.  Any difference between the original Exam Fee paid and the new Exam Fee will need to be paid by the applicant.  Eligibility determinations are not deferrable; the applicant will need to satisfy all of the application requirements (work experience, application procedures, etc.) in effect at the time of the new application.


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