Professional Accreditation: Does It Push The Needle?

For doctors, it's M.D. For post-doctorate grads, it's Ph.D. For lawyers, it's Esq. Each signoff at the end of one's name is a conspicuous stamp of approval in many communities,

a sign that said person has overcome academic obstacles, endured caffeine-fueled all-nighters, passed grueling tests of mental stamina and intellectual dexterity. For many, it's a

personal accomplishment that can be tucked away at the end of a diploma, but for some, it's essential punctuation that clings tenaciously to their surname. For PR executives, these

acronyms are APR (Accredited in Public Relations) and ABC (Accredited Business Communicator) - signs of professional accreditation whose benefits are increasingly debated by PR

practitioners across all communications functions. And the crux of the matter? If such credentials aren't required for people to practice public relations, do they still legitimize

the profession and improve the public's perception of it?

Public relations accreditation by organizations like the Universal Accreditation Board (which offers APR certification) and International Association of Business

Communicators (which offers ABC certification) were put in the spotlight in the summer of 2005, when results from an industry salary survey revealed that accredited public

relations professionals earn 20 percent more than those who are not - that is, on average, $102,031 versus $85,272. With that tidbit as a fire starter, communications and PR bloggers

have since instigated debates within the blogosphere on the merits - or lack thereof - of having three simple, some would say arbitrary, letters after one's name.

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