Planner Certification

Confused over Conservation Planner Certifications?

There is a lot of confusion over all of the different “certifications” out there. Here are three clarifications we hope help you navigate the fog:

Certified Planner” – If you attended and completed the requirements for the NRCS Conservation Planning, Part 2 course or Boot Camp you received a course completion certificate stating that you passed the course and now have a “certification” showing that you are qualified to write general conservation plans. This is NOT a planner certification process. You do not need to keep up this certificate nor do anything to maintain it. It is simply a course completion, albeit a very important one for learning the planning process. It is also one of the many requirements on the road to attaining the NRCS Certified Conservation Planner Designation, which is a separate, but often confused, process.

NRCS Conservation Planner Designation” – NRCS released a new Conservation Planner Designation process in 2018 that outlines the requirements for attaining a desired level (Apprentice, Certified, Master, or Technical) of recognition for general conservation planning expertise. Each of the four levels has a required set of trainings that need to be completed (you can find a full list of NRCS Planner Designation requirements below). You are required to obtain continuing education credits and/or write a number of plans to maintain any NRCS Planner Designation. The NRCS Certified Conservation Planner Designation level is often confused with the certification one receives for completion of the NRCS Introduction to Conservation Planning course mentioned above.

CTD Planner Certification” – In an effort to recognize levels of expertise within conservation planning disciplines, the CTD has created three Conservation Planner Certifications for Dairy, Farm, and Riparian planners. While these are completely separate from the NRCS Planner Designations mentioned above, they do use the NRCS Planner Designation status and/or course requirements as a foundation to show planning knowledge. You can find more information on the CTD Planner Certifications and requirements below.

Looking for a place to keep track of your progress towards Certification? Check out the new Training Template!

CTD Planner Certifications

The CTD has been diligently working to provide new ways to enhance and support your hard work. One of those is with a Planner Certification Program. The purpose of the Certification Program is to certify individuals as having the necessary skills and abilities to plan to the requirements set forth in the certification guidelines, as well as recognize those planners that have demonstrated an advanced level of knowledge, skills and planning. In addition, the program provides a pathway for new and advancing planners to achieve the knowledge and mentor support needed to advance from beginning to expert planner.

The CTD has launched the first certifications in the Riparian, Farm and Dairy Planning disciplines.

Please review the qualifications for your appropriate certification and application form below and get started today!


Riparian Planner Certification


Farm Planner Certification


Dairy Planner Certification

(to open application as a fillabel PDF, click on link above, download document , and open with Adobe)

First round of CTD Certification applications are due March 6, 2020

Steps to CTD Planner Certification:

  1. Review your discipline specific Planner Certification requirements (above)
  2. Create a training plan to complete any required training events you need to achieve the level of certification you desire
  3. Review and fill out the Planner Application Form
  4. Gather your necessary application materials, including the required number of conservation plans (see plan review criteria HERE to ensure you are submitting a quality product)
  5. Submit your Planner Certification Application package
  6. Once your application is approved, add your required 40 hours of Continuing Education Units (CEU's) to your 3-year training plan and get started
  7. Happy planning!

Certification Inquires

For questions, please contact the certification leads at:

General questions:

Dairy | | Nichole Embertson

Farm | | Bobbi Lindumulder

Riparian | | Ryan Williams

Planner Designation Requirements v3_11_18.pdf

NRCS Conservation Planner Designations

NRCS provides planner designations/certifications relative to Conservation Planning. These certifications are independent of the CTD Planner Certifications listed above, but form the base for the CTD planner certification requirements.

NRCS Conservation Planner Designations are at four levels:

  • Apprentice
  • Certified
  • Master
  • Technical

For more information on the individual NRCS Planner Designation levels and training requirements for each, please refer to the NRCS handout: NRCS Conservation Planner Designations (updated November, 2018)

Have a question? Check out the Washington Conservation Planning FAQ.

NRCS Conservation Planner Designations Supporting Information

Webinar: NRCS Planner Certification Status and Information

Recording of Webinar (Recording Password: NRCS Planning 1)

PowerPoint Slides from Presentation

Hosted by NRCS and CTD, this webinar goes over the new NRCS Planner Designation/Certification levels, qualification criteria, training opportunities, timelines, and provide a forum for Q&A by NRCS and the CTD. This webinar is for NRCS, Conservation District, and other planning partners interested learning more about the new criteria and what they need to do to get rolling.