Professional Certifications and Job Self-Efficacy of Public Park and Recreation Professionals

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One of the characteristics of a professional field is having a means to certify the knowledge and competence of members of the profession. Certification programs can range from specialist-based certifications to those that are more general in scope (Mathis & Jackson, 2010). Supporters of certifications, both specialist and generalist, contend: certifications improve organizational effectiveness by having more competent and productive employees; improve the overall quality of a profession by following an established body of knowledge; help keep the professional current with the literature and trends in the field through the requirements associated with maintaining the certification over time (i.e., continuing education unit requirements); enhance professional recognition and lifelong learning among professionals in the field; and, lead to increased pay/salary and/or career advancement opportunities for professionals (Chipkin, 2010; Smith, 2013). Despite these claims made by certification supporters and advocates, little empirical research has been conducted on the specific impact of certifications within the field of park and recreation. In response to this need, the purpose of this study was to explore the possible links between a generalist certification (i.e., the CPRP certification), specialist certifications, and job self-efficacy among public park and recreation professionals. Job self-efficacy is a concept introduced in Bandura's social cognitive model (see Bandura, 1997) and is described as one's perceived performance capabilities for a specific activity. Three hundred and forty-seven public park and recreation professionals completed an online survey that was used to measure the variables of interest. Analyses identified significant differences in employees' job self-efficacy levels between CPRP professionals and non-CPRP professionals while no significant differences were found between specialist certified professionals and those without a certification. Complete results of the study are analyzed and discussed.


This article was originally published as Mulvaney, M. A., Beggs, B. A., Hurd, A. R., Elkins, D. J. (2015). The Certified Park and Recreation Professional Certification and Job Self-Efficacy of Public Park and Recreation Professionals. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 33(1), 93-111.