Analyst Relations Certifications and Certificates: Who, What, Why and Cost

BarbaraAnalyst relations, marketing

Interested in certification as an analyst relations professional? Looking for an analyst relations training course with benefits, such as a certificate of completion? If so, you have several choices for obtaining credentials. Here’s how four AR cert programs stack up, including who offers them, who can take them, what the programs cover, and how much they cost. Plus, some closing thoughts on ROI and funding.

Certification v. certificate of completion

Analyst relations professionals can obtain two types of credentials. It’s important to understand the difference between a certification and a certificate of completion.

Accreditation as a certified Analyst Relations professional: Certification is intended to provide proof of an individual’s overall AR practitioner knowledge. Currently, it requires passing a written test. This designation is the AR equivalent of PRSA’s Accredited in Public Relations (APR) and IABC’s Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) credentials.

Certificate of completion: A certificate of completion provides documented proof that an individual successfully completed a professional development training course in AR. Currently, it does not require passing a written test. This is the AR equivalent of a certificate of completion for a class at a vocational school or college.

The providers: who offers AR certification, training certificates

One professional association and three AR consulting companies offer AR certs:

The IIAR is the only cert provider that does not require candidates to purchase a training course. Instead, the IIAR tests on knowledge they say is best gained on the job and by staying current with the worldwide industry analyst business.

Another difference with the IIAR is that its certification test reflects input from the other 3 cert providers as well as from experienced practitioner members. One consultancy – KCG – provided its entire certification test to the IIAR as raw input.

Training is mandatory for certs from each of the three AR consultancies – KCG, Lighthouse AR and SageCircle. These programs emphasize professional development first; certs are an important yet secondary aspect of their programs. The certification test is an option with KCG. Participants can take the KCG course without completing the certification test.

Attendees will encounter differences in the proprietary courses taught by KCG, Lighthouse AR and SageCircle. Differences can include AR terminology and some of the advocated best practices, tactics and program measurements.

1. Comparing AR Cert Programs at a Glance

IIAR KCG Lighthouse AR SageCircle
Certification as AR Professional Yes Yes No No
Certificate of Completion No No Yes Yes
Certs Offered 1 lifetime professional certification 1 lifetime professional certification Certificates of completion
in 4 courses
Certificates of completion
in 5 courses
Suggested experience level 2-3 years FT or
3-4 years PT
None needed;
runs from intro to advanced level
intermediate & master courses
None needed; starts at intro level
Written Test Required Required No No
Training No Required Required Required
Languages Available English English English, German English
Printed Cert Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cost Per Person Free to IIAR members;
Others: £100
$1,200; group discount $1,250 per course; group discount $495 – $995 per course; group discount
Study Materials Included No Presentations, workbook, copy
of KCG’s book “Influencing the Influencers”
Presentations, workbook, copy of Efrem Mallach’s book “Win Them Over” Presentations, workbook, online library
Add’l Items Bundled in Price 1 re-test, if needed Private inhouse training Private inhouse training; 1-year IIAR membership; Framed large-format certificate of completion Private inhouse training; Framed certificate of completion


2. Comparing the Topical Focus of AR Cert Programs

Cert Programs Topics
  • Detailed knowledge of the industry analyst industry and AR best practices
  • Comprehensive understanding of AR professional skills, best practices and processes
  • Intro to AR
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • Messaging & Influencing Analysts
  • Selling AR Internally
  • AR Social Media Strategy
  • AR Measurement
  • AR-Sales Partnership
  • AR Effectiveness
  • Strategic Issues


3. Comparing Options in Testing & Training

IIAR KCG Lighthouse AR SageCircle
Cert Testing
Length of Written Test 120 questions 52 questions
Test Format Online, timed Pre-printed, take home, unlimited completion time
Test Pass Rate 70% 90%
Re-test Option Yes Yes
Cert Training
Training Venue In person, live webcast or online In person or
live webcast
In person or
live webcast
Duration of Each Course 1 day (8 hours) 5 hours 5 – 8 hours


4. Comparing AR Cert Program Activity

IIAR KCG Lighthouse AR SageCircle
Cert Program Started Oct 2009 2004 2006 2008
Content Refreshed As needed or Annually Continuously Annually Quarterly
Total No. of Certs Issued Very few 500+ 40 – 50 Declined to comment


Bottomline: What’s the ROI?

None of the providers offers ROI analysis or compelling case studies justifying investments in AR certs. Aside from the IIAR, the providers said that the real value is in the experience of their training courses, rather than in obtaining the actual cert.

In addition, awareness of these certs is very low outside of AR circles. None of the four providers is promoting their certs directly to vendor management or to the high tech marketing industry at large. As a result, making the case to management for the time and money required falls squarely on the AR practitioner.

So what is the value of getting a certificate or being certified as an Analyst Relations professional? The four providers say the value lies in:

  • Increasing individual confidence and respect within the AR community
  • Raising the standards of the AR profession
  • Creating competitive advantage for individual recruitment and promotion
  • Establishing a companywide common denominator in AR knowledge, vernacular, practices and processes
  • Meeting company or association requirements for ongoing professional development
  • Tapping into company funds earmarked for professional development

Please add any other AR certificate or certification programs in the comments. I’ll update the post accordingly.