NRCS Planner Designation

NRCS Conservation Planner Designations

NEW - Bulletin on Updates to NRCS Planner Designation Process

Posted March 1, 2021

WA 180-21-04 - Mandatory Training for Planners_signed.pdf
NRCS Process Flowchart - 10.21.20.pdf
Updated October 2020

Infographic Of NRCS Planner Designation Process

Follow this process for each level of NRCS Planner Designation as you make your way up the ladder, starting with Apprentice.

Which NRCS Designation Should You Choose?

Apprentice/Level I

  • New planner or in position that does not require conservation planning as a major part of duties.

  • Can determine client objectives, conduct resource inventories, run assessment tools and develop alternative solutions to address resource concerns for planning areas.

  • The apprentice role is not a certified conservation planner and is not authorized to sign conservation plans.

  • Must have work reviewed by a certified conservation planner prior to the final discussion of alternatives with the client. A certified conservation planner or master certified conservation planner must sign the final plan developed by an apprentice.

Certified/Level III

  • The certified conservation planner role will be required for all NRCS or partner employees that have conservation planning as a major part of their job.

  • Can conduct all steps of the conservation planning process without supervision for progressive and resource management system level plans for all land uses and resource concerns common to their work area.

  • Certified conservation planners can sign conservation plans indicating the plan meets client objectives and all NRCS policy, procedures, and standards.

Master/Level IV

  • Can conduct all steps of the conservation planning process without supervision for progressive and resource management system level plans for all land uses and resource concerns common to their State and train others.

  • This role can lead area wide conservation planning efforts within the State, lead conservation planning training efforts and lead quality control reviews and spot checks.

  • Can sign conservation plans indicating the plan meets client objectives and all NRCS policy, procedures, and standards.

Technical Specialist/Level II

  • The Technical Specialist Planner is an NRCS employee, partner, or volunteer that provides leadership for a specific scientific or technical discipline, or provides leadership for broad conservation planning subjects in a state, area, or multi-jurisdictional work unit.

  • Perform their duties with high levels of expertise and independence and provide training on components of conservation planning that relate to their area(s) of expertise on all land uses.

  • Perform quality control reviews and spot check for conservation practices and conservation plans as they relate to their area(s) of expertise, and may sign the NRCS-CPA-52 as the planner in block P for conservation plans that relate to their area(s) of expertise.

  • A certified conservation planner or master certified conservation planner must sign the final plan developed by the Technical Specialist planner.

GM-180-Part 409 ConservationPlannerDesignations_0321.pdf

NRCS Planner Designation Description and Requirements

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

NRCS Conservation Planner Designations are at four levels:

  • Apprentice/Level I

  • Certified/Level III

  • Master/Level IV

  • Technical/Level II

Load, Track and Print Your NRCS Planner Designation in AgLearn

Did you know that you can self certify all of the webinars and OJT requirements right in AgLearn and keep track of your progress towards NRCS certification?

You can now load the entire planner designation curriculum (i.e, Apprentice, Certified) in AgLearn (BC-EDS-000009), referred to as a Partner Development Plan (PDP), to help you keep track of your progress.

Please note: District staff are not required to take Conservation Planning Business Tool Training (part of Apprentice level designation) UNLESS you have direct access to an NRCS computer AND are entering program information directly into the NRCS system*.

*"Conservation planning business tool training (e.g., Conservation Desktop (State or national course)). Partner or private sector conservation planner (including TSPs) candidates will not be required to complete Conservation Planning Business Tools training if they do not have access to the appropriate NRCS conservation planning application." (409-9, NPPH 180-409-GM, 1st Ed., Amend. 44, Sep. 2019)
Planner Training Tracking_2021_Feb 19.xlsx
Updated March 2021

NRCS Planner Designation Tracking Template (Link)

Download this helpful Excel sheet to track your progress towards NRCS Planner Designation.

NRCS_MaintenanceOfCertification_Oct2020.pdf
Updated September 2020

NRCS Requirements for Maintaining Designation

NRCS requires 40 hours of continuing education every 3 years to maintain your planner designation status. See their Maintaining Planner Role document for more detail.

Helpful Resources

Presented by CTD on: Thursday, September 24, 2020

There are benefits to achieving an NRCS Planner Designation status (i.e., Apprentice, Certified), but the process can be confusing. This webinar goes over the advantages of achieving an NRCS Planner Designation status, how to load your training curriculum in AgLearn so that it tracks your progress, how to bypass training requirements with Proficiency Exams (found within AgLearn), where to find and use the certification Training Plan, and more.

Copy of PowerPoint Slides

Definition of NRCS Training Types

AgLearn Courses - Must be taken in AgLearn and will be verified and marked complete within AgLearn as you complete all of the requirements for each.

S&T Webinars (Conservation Webinar Portal) – These webinars can be accessed through AgLearn and self-certified for completion within AgLearn. If you take the course through the Conservation Webinar Portal, be sure to obtain a certificate of completion then you can go into AgLearn and self-confirm completion.

Proficiency Exams - The NRCS has released Proficiency Exams for some of the NRCS Planner Designation course requirements for the Level III / Certified level. Successfully passing these Proficiency Exams in AgLearn will allow an individual to “test out” of certain in-person NRCS courses.