ç Certificate Program

Certificate Program

Enroll, Enrich, Advance

For decades, AZA has provided in-person classroom-based professional training courses taught by some of the premier subject matter experts in the field. We know that these courses offer valuable training and networking experiences for our members.

We continue to be committed to offering these intensive training experiences, but we also realize that our members need more professional development opportunities in a variety of subject areas and in more flexible formats. Additionally, we have heard our membership tell us clearly that they want to be recognized for the breadth and depth of their professional training.

The AZA Professional Development Certificate Program meets both of these needs. What does this program mean for you?

Foundations for excellence: AZA Professional Development Certificates are offered in different areas or "concentrations." Each concentration is grounded in AZA's hallmark, in-person courses to build a strong foundation for further training.

More training, your way: AZA Professional Development Certificate concentrations are completed by choosing from an array of electives. These elective offerings include workshops, webinars and courses offered by AZA, AZA Animal Programs, and like-minded partner organizations. These Learning Partners offer high quality training in areas that complement and build on the foundation AZA courses create.

Meeting the highest standards: Earning an AZA Professional Development Certificate demonstrates that you have completed more than 100 hours of training in a particular concentration. It represents not only a commitment to AZA's high standards and policies, but also to experiencing a breadth of training that will expand your perspectives on zoo and aquarium practices by learning from our partners.

Certificate Program Requirements

Enrollment in the AZA Professional Development Certificate Program is a member benefit! You must be an AZA member in good standing at the Professional Associate level or higher. Membership must be maintained for the duration of enrollment in the program. Credits must be accumulated at the rate of a minimum of one qualifying unit (see list below) every twelve months. If you do not earn at least one credit unit each year, your training portfolio will be docked two credits towards completion of a certificate.

Priority Criteria

A minimum of 40 applicants will be accepted per enrollment period. In addition to the requirements above, candidate applications will be prioritized for admission using the following criteria: 

  1. Employment at an AZA accredited or certified-related facility
  2. Attendance at one or more AZA Professional Development course(s) within the past 3 years
  3. Number of years employed at an AZA accredited or certified-related facility

Applications will be reviewed for admission by AZA Professional Development Staff and members of the Professional Development Committee. 

Getting Started

To earn a certificate, you will need to complete two required concentration-specific core courses offered by AZA as well as 16 additional relevant elective units. Elective options can be AZA-led (additional AZA courses or TAG/SSP workshops) or managed by an AZA Learning Partner or other approved organization. The 16 elective units must include a minimum of three training offerings. If a participant completes two 8-unit electives, an additional credit must be earned from a third offering to satisfy the certificate requirements. The Professional Development Certificate Program is designed to provide flexibility around where and how you obtain credits.

Once accepted, participants may request updated transcripts to track their progress. Please allow 4-5 weeks to
receive an updated transcript.

Current enrollees may continue to submit their materials to certificate@aza.org for credit. 


Certificate Elective Units Guide

.5 units - Less than 2-hour web-based training
1 unit - 2-4 hour web-based training; Poster or session presentation at AZA or Learning Partner Conference*
2 units - 2+ to 4 hour in-person workshop or seminar
3 units - full day workshop or seminar
4 units - 2 day workshop or course
5 units - 3 day workshop or course
6 units - 4 day workshop or course
8 units - 5 day workshop or course*

*The 16 elective units must include a minimum of three training offerings. If two 8-unit electives are approved, an additional elective must be taken to complete the certificate. 

Please note: Electives are not independently evaluated by AZA. Awarding of a certificate recognizes successful completion of the core courses and 16 units of electives and does not guarantee particular competencies or certifications. Electives are subject to change.

Retroactive Credit

Retroactive credit will be awarded for AZA courses and select high-unit Learning Partner electives completed within the last three years. Enrollment participants will have three months after completing a training opportunity to request credit.

Concentration Areas

Each concentration focuses on a different area of the zoo and aquarium profession. Certificate Program concentrations include:

Active Concentrations

Future Concentrations

  • Avian Management 
  • Collections Management 
  • Elephant Management 

Candidates may apply for one of the  certificate concentrations when available during the spring or fall enrollment periods (see Program Registration below). 

Sample Certificate

For example, you could earn an AZA Professional Development Certificate in Behavioral Husbandry by completing:


Program Registration

To join the AZA Professional Development Certificate Program, candidates may apply during one of the following enrollment periods:

Friday, March 22nd    -       Applications available for submission
Friday, April 19th       -      All application materials due 
Friday, May 17th        -      Applicants notified of admission status

During enrollment registration periods, candidates may apply by selecting one of the certificate concentrations currently available. Applicants will be led to a Member Login page after which they can access the Concentration Information page and the Concentration Application Form. 

Questions? Contact AZA's Certificate Program at certificate@AZA.org or call 301-562-0777 ext. 240

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