Crisis Helpline Specialist Certification

International Council for Helplines offers professional certification for individuals working in the emotional support helpline field. As with our accreditation standards, the exam is based on industry best practices that focus on crisis intervention and supportive listening skills. An individual passing the certification exam has demonstrated thorough understanding of the competencies needed to provide compassionate and non-judgmental services to those in need of emotional support.

Click here to view the list of current Certified Helpline Specialists who have successfully passed the certification exam.

Requirements for the Crisis Helpline Specialist Certification:
All the requirements below must be met in order to become a Certified Helpline Specialist:

  • A minimum of one year in a direct service crisis helpline role (phone, chat and/or text) with at least 200 hours of talk, chat or text time.  For example:
    • You are in a full-time (40 hours per week) paid staff position and you answer crisis helpline calls.  You would be eligible to take the exam after being in your role for one year
    • You are a volunteer and you answer crisis chats 3 hours each week.  You would be eligible to take the exam after 200 hours of answering chats
  • Successful completion of a training program based on International Council for Helplines core competencies or similar education and training
  • Completion of the Crisis Helpline Specialist Certification Application
  • A professional reference from a manager working in the organization where your helpline work was completed. The reference specifically addresses the applicant’s knowledge and skills as a crisis helpline worker as well as other professional strengths. The reference form is online and can be found here
  • Submit a nonrefundable fee of:
    • International Council for Helplines member:  $35
    • Non-member: $65
  • Successful completion of the online exam with a passing grade of at least 85%


After successful completion of the exam, a certificate and letter of completion, valid for 5 years, will be sent to you.

Questions or need additional information?  Click here or email us at info@councilforhelplines.org.

Study Materials
The crisis helpline certification exam is based on International Council for Helpline accreditation standards and best practices. Please see the study guide for recommended areas of review before taking the exam.

Retaking the Exam
Applicants who do not successfully pass the exam the first time may re-take the test one additional time within 12 months at no additional cost.

Re-certification
The International Council for Helpline Crisis Helpline Specialist Certificate must be renewed every 5 years.  In order to become re-certified, applicants:

  • Complete the re-certification application
  • Must have continued active work in the crisis helpline field.  This can be in the capacity as a direct service crisis helpline specialist, in a supervisory or a trainer role (there are no additional hour requirements)
  • Submit a nonrefundable fee of:
    • International Council for Helplines member:  $25
    • Non-member: $45
  • Successfully complete the re-certification exam (randomly selected questions from the certification test) with a passing grade of at least 85%.


Questions or need additional information?  Click here or email us at info@councilforhelplines.org.