Access to WSO Certification

The WSO Certification Body does not restrict entrance to the WSO Certification Program on the grounds of membership in any organization, excessive and unsupported eligibility requirements, or graduation from the WSO Certification Body’s own education or training program. Certification is open to all qualified candidates.


Non-Discrimination Policy

The WSO is committed to providing a certification process that is fair and free from discrimination. All reasonable efforts are made to ensure that WSO examinations are based on job-related knowledge and tasks. In addition, during item-writing training, editorial review of individual items, and exam review situations, documentation on how to prevent bias and stereotyping is provided in either written or verbal form.

The WSO endorses the principle of equal opportunity. Eligibility criteria for examination and for certification under the WSO programs are applied equally to all applicants regardless of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ethnicity, veteran status, age, marital status, or disability.

The WSO and its test development vendor comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and strive to ensure that no disabled individual is deprived of the opportunity to take a WSO examination solely by reason of that disability. Special testing arrangements may be made for these individuals. All testing sites will comply with all federal, state, and local laws regarding use of public buildings, ensure accessibility required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and accommodate applicants with disabilities on an individual basis without additional cost.


Information About Testing Accommodations

Reasonable testing accommodations are provided for candidates with documented disabilities (recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] Amendments Act).  The ADA mandates that testing accommodations be individualized, meaning that no single type of testing accommodation is adequate or appropriate for all individuals with any given type of disability or health-related need. “Health-related needs” refers to any of a variety of medical conditions that impact a major life activity, such as those affecting digestion, immune function, respiration, circulation, endocrine functions, etc.

Test takers with health-related needs may be able to test under standard conditions if ETA determines that only minor adjustments, if any, to the testing environment are required (e.g., wheelchair access, insulin pump, heart rate monitor, etc.). Test takers who wear an insulin pump do not need to be approved for accommodations unless the pump is especially noisy. In that case, it is recommended that testing take place in a separate room so the noise will not disturb other test takers. Candidates who require food, a beverage or equipment such as glucose testing materials or an inhaler must apply for accommodations also, since a separate room may be necessary.

In most cases, score reports contain no indication of whether a test was taken with accommodations. In rare instances, when an accommodation significantly alters what is tested (for example, if an entire test section must be omitted), a statement may be included with the score report indicating that the test was taken under nonstandard testing conditions. Score recipients are reminded that test scores should be considered only one part of an applicant’s record.

Note: Not all accommodations are available for each test. Please see the specific program page for the test you are taking to learn which accommodations are available for that test. Some accommodations that may be approved include:

Computer-based Testing
  • Extended testing time (all tests are timed)
  • Additional rest breaks
  • Reader
  • Recorder/writer of answers
  • Sign language interpreter (for spoken directions only)
  • Selectable background and foreground colors
  • Alternate test formats: Audio recording; Large print

The following may be made available to those familiar with their use:

  • Trackball mouse
  • Quill mouse
  • IntelliKeys® keyboard
  • Screen magnification
  • Ergonomic keyboard
  • Keyboard with touchpad
  • Selectable background and foreground colors
 Paper-based Testing
  • Extended testing time (all tests are timed)
  • Additional rest breaks
  • Writer/recorder of answers
  • Reader
  • Sign language interpreter (for spoken directions only)
  • Large print test book
  • Large print answer sheet
  • Audio recording
  • Audio recording with large print figure supplement



The WSO Certification Board shall commit to acting impartially in relation to its applicants, candidates, and certified persons. Certification decisions shall be made in accordance with policies and procedures. Policies and procedures affecting applicants, candidates, and certified persons shall be made public and shall fairly and accurately convey information about the certification program.

The WSO Certification Board shall understand threats to impartiality that include, but are not limited to, self-interest, activities from related bodies, relationships of personnel, financial interests, favoritism, conflict of interest, familiarity, and intimidation.

The WSO Certification Board shall periodically conduct a threat analysis to determine the potential, both real and perceived, of an individual or an organization to influence certification.


Confidentiality / Non-Disclosure / Conflict of Interest Statement, Confidential and Proprietary Information

For purposes of this Statement, “Confidential Information” means all information and materials, in whatever form, whether tangible or intangible, disclosed by the WSO or any of its authorized representatives to Volunteers, or to which Volunteers otherwise gain access as a result of volunteering for WSO.   All proprietary information of the WSO that is not known generally to the public is considered Confidential Information.

Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the following are deemed Confidential Information:

  • Ideas for research and development;
  • Information submitted in the investigation of complaints or involving ethics cases;
  • Computer records and software (including software that is proprietary to third parties);
  • Any other information which WSO must keep confidential as a result of obligations to third parties;
  • Information regarding the administration of components of the certification programs;
  • Exam-related technologies and components;
  • Item content, characteristics, development or other aspects of the examinations and their development, maintenance and administration;
  • Identities of Certificants, candidates, customers, suppliers, or third party contractors, including without limitation any media, advertising, or public relations firms;
  • The WSO’s e-mail distribution list(s);
  • Human resources data and information about employees, contractors and other volunteers;
  • Cost and other financial data;
  • Any other information to which a volunteer may have access while involved in WSO’s activities.

The WSO’s officers, staff, and volunteers will not divulge any Confidential Information to third parties or copy documents containing any Confidential Information.  In no event shall officers, staff, or volunteers use Confidential Information in a manner that is in any way detrimental to WSO.

The WSO’s officers, staff, and volunteers will maintain the confidentiality of all Confidential Information and not misuse, misappropriate, or disclose in writing, orally or by electronic means, any Confidential Information, directly or indirectly, to any other person or use them in any way, either during the term of this Agreement or at any other time thereafter, except as is required in the course of service to WSO.

The WSO’s officers, staff, and volunteers acknowledge and agree that all Confidential Information and similar items whether maintained in hard copy, electronically or on-line relating to WSO’s business shall remain exclusively the property of WSO and shall only be used by said individuals for the purpose(s) permitted by the WSO.

Conflict of Interest

The WSO’s officers, staff, and volunteers shall avoid personal and professional conflicts of interest in all matters pertaining to WSO’s programs.  Conflicting interests may include but are not limited to such areas as financial, personal relationships, and/or professional relationships.

If a situation arises where it is unclear as to whether a conflict of interest exists, the issue shall be discussed with an Officer or employee of WSO.


Violation of this Agreement will be grounds for termination of service with WSO.  In the case of a volunteer, a Committee Chair plus any two members of the Executive Committee may elect to remove a volunteer at any time. In cases where a staff member is involved of violating this agreement, WSO’s personnel policies shall determine the discipline or termination process.

The provisions of this Agreement and Volunteer’s obligations hereunder shall survive any expiration, termination, or rescission of this Agreement and remain even after Volunteer’s relationship with WSO ends.  Except as provided herein, WSO officers, staff, or volunteers are prohibited from disclosing or using any Confidential Information in all circumstances, including but not limited to subsequent engagements or employment with third parties.

This Agreement shall be binding upon the individual and his/her personal representatives and successors in interest, and shall inure to the benefit of WSO, its successors and assigns.

A violation of the terms of this Agreement may cause damage and harm to WSO and that any such damage or harm will be difficult if not impossible to calculate in monetary terms and will be irreparable to WSO. Upon notice from WSO declaring a breach of this Agreement, the officer, staff, or volunteer shall immediately cease all further activities which are, or are claimed by WSO to be, a breach of this Agreement. WSO may also avail itself of any other remedies available by law.

If any of the provisions of this Agreement are found to be unenforceable, the remainder shall be enforced as fully as possible and the unenforceable provision(s) shall be deemed modified to the limited extent required to permit enforcement of the Agreement as a whole.


Denial of Eligibility

The WSO Certification Body maintains an eligibility committee who is responsible to review the eligibility requirements of the applicants and candidates.

Responsibilities of the Eligibility Committee:

The eligibility committee is responsible for reviewing denials or unusual circumstances associated with interpreting eligibility requirements for individuals applying for certification and the certification examination, and for making recommendations to the certification body about the relevance and purposes of the eligibility criteria. The eligibility committee shall have the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Review applications for the certification that require special consideration related to an applicant documenting compliance with the eligibility criteria.
  • Report any trends or common areas of noncompliance with the eligibility criteria to the certification body or scheme committee.
  • Make recommendations for revisions to the eligibility criteria and policies and procedures.
  • As additional credentials are developed, or as current certification is revalidated, ensure the eligibility criteria are current, relevant, and reflective of any changes to the credential’s requirements.
  • Complete all duties as assigned.
Policies of the Eligibility Committee:

The eligibility committee shall be responsible for implementing the following policies of the certification program:

  • Establishing the eligibility requirements
  • When to review the eligibility requirements for currency and relevance to the certification examination and application requirements
  • Denial of eligibility
  • Confidentiality of applicant information
  • Meeting attendance and participation
  • Length of term of service on eligibility committee.
Statement of Qualifications and areas of expertise required for service on the eligibility committee:

The members of this committee shall:

  • Collectively represent the stakeholders using the credential, have a wide range of experiences in the industry/field, and be familiar with the requirements of the certification program.
  • Represent the range of years of professional experience typical of the applicant population.
  • Represent the geographic and employment demographics reflective of the certificant/stakeholder population.
  • Understand the content requirements of the examination and the relationship of the eligibility requirements to the examination.
  • Articulate and provide evidence to support denials of eligibility.
  • Commit the time and resources required to perform their functions.


Testing Irregularities

Breaches in test security may severely affect the integrity of the WSO’s certification program, the profession, and the public; therefore, the WSO has in place secure processes relative to all aspects of its programs, including general security measures, security during test development, and security during test administration.

Certification Examination Proctors/Monitors/Administrators should record any irregularities such as timing errors, defective exam materials, illness, suspected cheating/misconduct, and emergencies.

The WSO will make a final determination regarding whether an investigation is needed. An example of a testing irregularity that would not be considered serious, and therefore not covered by this policy, is a short power outage at the test center. An example of a serious testing irregularity is suspected cheating behavior, which could result in a score validity problem. An example of a potential breach of security that would be investigated by the WSO might include a report of a candidate with possession of examination items.


Cheating or Indeterminate Scores

The WSO Certification Body maintains strict policies to safeguard the security of the examination through the administration. Any individual who removes, or attempts to remove, examination materials from the testing site, including memorizing examination questions, is subject to prosecution in addition to sanctions that may include removal of certification and restrictions on future access to the examination.

Should the WSO Certification Body determine evidence of cheating, it reserves the right to invalidate test scores and mandate retesting.

Indeterminate Scores:

Statistical procedures will be applied routinely, and in response to particular information, to identify scores that may be subsequently classified as indeterminate. Scores identified for potential classification as indeterminate may result from factors such as examinee illness during part of an examination, irregular behavior, or other factors. Classification of scores as indeterminate does not necessarily imply any inappropriate behavior by an examinee.

Irregular behavior is not the only basis upon which scores may be invalidated. The WSO Certification Body will refer an examinee’s scores to the appeals committee if it finds that it cannot certify a score as representing a valid measure of the examinee’s competence in the domains assessed by the examination. The appeals committee will perform follow-up action and report results to the WSO Certification Body. If otherwise eligible, an examinee whose scores have been declared indeterminate by the appeals committee may take an examination, within a specified period of time, to validate the performance on the examination in question, unless the appeals committee finds that irregular behavior occurred and the examinee is barred from future administrations of the WSO examination.


Denial, Suspension, or Revocation of WSO Certification

WSO considers misrepresentation and/or noncompliance with eligibility criteria, the rules and guidelines of WSO certification, and/or misuse of the WSO credential serious ethical issues that require investigation and possible disciplinary action.

Cause for denial, suspension, or revocation of certification includes but is not limited to:

  • Falsification of information on the WSO examination application
  • Misrepresentation of continuing education credits required for recertification;
  • Falsification of any material information requested by WSO;
  • Misrepresentation of WSO certification status;
  • Suspected individual pre-knowledge of test content, impersonation, cheating on the WSO examination, or other evidence of possible examination compromise.
  • Serious violation of a provision within the WSO Code of Ethics/Conduct.

WSO investigates alleged misconduct, misrepresentation, and/or noncompliance, beginning with an objective review process in which evidence substantiating the allegations is collected to ensure due process and to protect the rights of candidates/certificants.

The process is initiated upon notification of noncompliance or misrepresentation and is conducted in an expedited manner to avoid creating an undue burden on the candidate/certificant. Upon completion of the review process, WSO reserves the right to take disciplinary action, for valid cause, against its certification holders, individuals seeking WSO certification, or individuals misrepresenting their WSO certification status. The disciplinary process is delineated in Policy 1.26.


Challenge Results of Examination

The WSO Certification Board gives any candidate the opportunity to provide feedback on the examination content and procedures about:

  • Technical accuracy of the examination.
  • Fairness in the administration of the examination. A candidate who has a concern about administrative procedures at a testing site or who has observed a breach of security or other improper conduct should submit a report in writing within 15 days after taking the examination.
  • A candidate who has a question or concern about the reliability, validity, or fairness of the examination may submit the question or concern in writing to WSO Certification Board no later than 15 days after taking the examination.
  • The WSO Certification Board will not consider reports about improper test administration procedures or test contents that exceed the 15 day deadline, or are not submitted in writing.
  • Candidates who pass the examination are not allowed to challenge their examination results, or to retest to try to improve their scores.


Complaints, Reviews, and Appeals

Any number of situations may arise which may lead a WSO member or non-member to file a formal complaint with the WSO.  This may include a complaint regarding a perceived flaw in a question or exam process, or a complaint against a WSO certified individual, staff member, or volunteer.  This process offers any individual the opportunity to have his or her concerns heard in a fair, objective forum. However, individuals will not be entitled to receive a copy of either the certification examination or the answers to any questions on the examination.

Such individuals may present written evidence of the basis for their complaint.  Such evidence shall be reviewed and appropriate action taken.  No disciplinary action will be taken against the individual simply because he/she has filed a complaint.  All complaints will be treated as confidential.

To ensure an impartial appeals process, a Complaint Review Panel consisting of three (3) WSO Certification Board members is formed: the Chairperson and two other voting members. The Chairperson of the panel will be the WSO Certification Board Chairperson, who will appoint the other two voting members from the existing WSO Certification Board. If the Chairperson chooses an Complaint Review Panel member who has a personal or financial conflict of interest, that Panel member will be withdrawn from the Panel.  If the Chairperson is the subject of the complaint, then the Chief Executive Officer of the WSO will assume the lead role in this process.

The Complaint Review Panel reviews each case individually and then processes the results of the review directly with the individual filing the complaint. The WSO Certification Body grants to the Complaint Review Panel full and final authority to institute corrective action (if any is required).

The chairperson of the Complaint Review Panel will chair all meetings of the Panel, which will be held, as needed, by conference call unless an in-person review is requested and paid for by the complainant.  Dates and times for review will be determined by the Chairperson. Panel members and the complainant will be informed of the date at least one (1) month prior to the conference call.  All materials available for the review will be provided in writing to the members in advance of the review.


Fees and Refunds

The WSO Certification Board reserves the right to assess fees for all services, including application, examination, recertification, challenging failed examination scores, duplicate certificates, and publications.

Fees charged for late applications, rescheduling an examination without a valid reason, extensions, and other circumstances may be assessed as deemed appropriate.

Fees are subject to change, and the candidate is responsible to submit the current and correct fee for any aspect of certification.

All fees shall be published in the candidate handbook.

Refunds are granted at the discretion of the certification staff for accepted circumstances such as emergency cancellations or withdrawals from the examination process.

Refunds are not granted to candidates who forfeit or fail the examination, or who are denied eligibility or re-certification.