Frequently Asked Questions: Peer Specialist Training and Certification

This list of Frequently Asked Questions was compiled by Via Hope staff that respond to thousands of inquiries about the Peer Specialist Training and Certification program each year.

Posted Tue Nov 25, 2014 by Anna J

What is the Peer Specialist Certification training (often called the CPS training)? The Peer Specialist Certification course is a forty-three (43) hour training followed by a written certification exam. Participants must successfully complete both to become a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS). Once certified, a peer specialist must earn at least 20 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) every 2 years to maintain his or her certification.  The program is administered according to the policies in the Via Hope Certified Peer Specialist Policy and Procedure Manual.

Do other organizations offer these trainings? At this time, Via Hope is the only entity in the state that offers a Peer Specialist Certification Training that is recognized by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

When is the next Peer Specialist training? Please visit our Upcoming Peer Specialist Certification Trainings web page for information on the next training.

Are there other types of trainings offered by Via Hope for peer specialists? I’ve heard people talk about endorsements. What are those? An endorsement is a continuing education training that is available to peer specialists once they are certified. Endorsements help promote the professional development of CPSs. You can view the list of CPS endorsements and read about them by visiting the Endorsement Section of the Peer Specialist Training and Certification webpage.

Who is eligible to apply for the Peer Specialist Certification training? The training Eligibility Requirements are described as below:

  • Individuals must be age 18 or older with a diagnosis of a mental illness and current or prior use of mental health services. A desire to use her/his experiences to help others with their recovery is also necessary.
  • Individuals must be willing to publicly identify as a person living with a mental illness in order to model the reality of recovery.
  • Individuals must be a high school graduate or have completed a G.E.D.
  • Individuals must be currently working or volunteering as a CPS (or actively looking for opportunities)

How do you determine who gets accepted for trainings? Each application is reviewed and scored, using the application scoring rubric, by Via Hope staff members.

Will I receive Continuing Education Units from participating in the certification training? A peer specialist must already be certified to earn CEUs toward his or her recertification (the certificate requires renewal every two years). For a training to be eligible for CEUS, the training must enhance the knowledge demonstrated as part of the certification process (it cannot be training on information more basic than the information in the certification training).  The purpose of the CEU requirement is to ensure that the CPS workforce maintains current knowledge in the field of peer support and continues to build skill as a peer specialist. For more information on endorsements, please visit our CPS Continuing Education page.

In order to be certified, is there an exam at the end of training? Yes.

When is the exam? The exam is given on the morning following the last day of the training. Participants are given two hours to complete it, although most finish it in less time. For the Veterans' CPS training, the exam is given on the last day of training.

How long do exam results take? Exam results are generally relayed within 30 days of completion.

What happens if I don’t pass the exam? Can I re-take it? If you do not pass the exam, you will not receive a certification. You are eligible to take the exam one (1) more time, the next time it is offered. After that, you must take the training again if you still want to take the exam again.

How long is the Peer Specialist Certification training? The basic training is six (6) days. It starts with a half day on Sunday and includes full days Monday through Friday.  The exam is given the morning (Saturday) after the training at the same location as the training. The Veterans' training is Monday through Friday, with the exam given on Friday.

Where are the trainings? Trainings are held in various cities across the state. Please check the Events listings for upcoming training locations. 

If I applied for a training in the past and did not get in, do I need to submit my application again? Yes, you will need to resubmit your application. However, you will not need to re-submit any previously submitted letters of recommendation if you would like the same letters to be included in your application.

Is there a registration fee for the training? What does this cover? Yes. The registration fee for Certified Peer Specialist training is currently $750 per person, although that amount is subject to change. This represents about three quarters of the full cost to Via Hope to provide the training. The difference between the full cost of the training and the registration fee (25%) is provided through a grant provided by The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health or through fees generated in other program areas. The registration fee includes all class supplies and materials, as well as breakfast, lunch and hotel accommodations each day of the training. 

Can registration fees be covered by my employer? Yes. Via Hope encourages employers to pay registration fees.

What expenses will I have for attending the training? Each participant is responsible for the training registration fee, travel to the training, evening meal(s) and any other incidental costs.

Does Via Hope offer scholarships for trainings? If you have an employer who is unable to cover the registration, travel, and meal costs, and the additional expense would prevent you from attending the training, you may apply for scholarship assistance. Please refer to our Scholarship Policy for more information.

When is the due date for my registration fees? One week (7 days) prior to the training.

When is the application due date? Generally about six weeks prior to the training.

If I was certified in another state do I need to attend your training? If your certification is current or only recently expired, you may be eligible to be certified by Via Hope by completing a reciprocity application. Please e-mail info@viahope.org to obtain the application. In the event your application is not approved and/or too much time has lapsed since your certification, you will need to complete our training and pass the exam to receive certification.

Can I bring my service animal to the training? Trained service animals are permitted in the training, but Via Hope must be notified in advance if you plan to bring one. Please be aware that if you are staying overnight, the hotel may need documentation to avoid paying a fee.

What happens if I miss portions of the training? Via Hope policy is that someone can miss no more than four hours of the training and still be eligible to receive the certification. However, an individual who misses too much of the training may re-apply anytime to complete the training.

I live outside of Texas. Can I attend a Via Hope training? Thank you for your interest! Unfortunately, because our funding specifically provides trainings to those currently working (or looking for work) in Texas, we are not able to process out-of-state applications for our regularly-scheduled trainings at this time.

How do I get a job as a Certified Peer Specialist? Via Hope does not offer job placement. However, we do have a job board available for peer specialists to view at the link below:

 http://www.viahope.org/jobs.