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The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

Certifications and Training

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Stand out to your employer. Join more than 90,000 individuals who have been certified in Customer Service and Sales, Advanced Customer Service and Sales, and Retail Management. The NRF Foundation’s certification program helps individuals advance their careers and helps companies identify the very best candidates.

Who should become certified?

Most participants are students, job seekers or current retail employees looking to take their careers to the next level.

Why get certified?

A professional credential shows employers that you:

  • understand the retail industry;
  • have skills you need to succeed in retail store positions;
  • are committed to continued learning and professional development.

Which test is for me?

Customer Service and Sales Certification: If you currently hold (or are applying for) an entry-level through first-line supervisory retail position, the Customer Service and Sales Certification will give you a leg up.

Advanced Customer Service and Sales Certification: If you currently hold (or are applying for) an entry-level through first-line supervisory retail position, the Advanced Certification will prepare you for a broad range of responsibilities.

Retail Management Certification: If you’re a new sales manager or assistant manager (or you’re applying for a retail management position), the retail management certification will help you demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed for long-term professional growth.

Retail Business Credential: If you’re a non-retailer serving the industry, the retail business credential will show your peers and clients just how much you know about retail.

Students and Individuals: Certification and Training FAQs

Where can I take the test?

To find a testing center near you, go to Castle Worldwide's online scheduling system. There you will see a link to all cities where public testing is available. You can then register for an exam and select a specific test site. 

How can I make a change to a test once I've registered?

Contact Customer Service at Castle Worldwide anytime between 8:30am and 5:30 pm EST: 919-572-6880.

How can I replace a lost certificate?

Beginning December 1, 2014 certificants will receive a digital badge in lieu of a hard copy certificate. Visit our FAQs page for more information on that exciting initiative. 

Please complete the request form and return it to Castle Worldwide to receive your badge.

How can I renew my certification?

NRF Foundation's professional certifications are valid for three years. If you wish to renew your certification, complete the application form. You are not required to re-take the examination. Beginning December 1, 2014 certificants will receive a digital badge in lieu of a hard copy certificate. Visit our FAQs page for more information on that exciting initiative. 

Test Administrators: Certification and Training FAQs

How do I set up a testing site?

You can also establish your own testing site by following these steps:

Complete the Site Profile form to identify main contacts and proctors who will administer the exams. Return the form to the Manager of Certification Programs via email.

Look for follow-up information from NRF Foundation. We’ll send a confirmation email outlining next steps. We’ll also put you in touch with Castle Worldwide, our testing partner, to train proctors and explain technical requirements.

Pay site set-up fee and purchase vouchers. There is a one-time site set-up fee of $250, which covers proctor training and ongoing IT support from Castle. An invoice will be sent to you along with your confirmation email. Test vouchers – $55/test for customer service; $45/test for sales; $85/test for retail management and retail business credential – are available for purchase as needed, and are good for one year from the month issued.

How do I train proctors?

Existing Testing Sites: If you are an existing site and you wish to add new proctors, please email CertInfo@nrf.com with your site name and address, and the proctor’s name and email address. Please make sure all your proctors have an updated copy of the Proctor Supervisor's Manual. 

New Testing Sites: Proctor Training will be a part of the process when you set up a testing site. See question 1 of the FAQs for site set-up information. 

Where do I purchase vouchers?

Test sites can purchase vouchers and workbooks using NRF’s online ordering system.Vouchers expire one year from the month issued. It is the responsibility of the test site to track voucher usage. 

Students and individuals looking to take the test should not purchase vouchers; please see the "Student and Individual" FAQs above.

How do I run system requirement checks?

The system requirements information will be covered during the proctor training session. However, before testing, your IT contact will need to run a system requirements check on all computers, to make sure pop-up blocking is disabled and your Internet browser has been upgraded.

How can I request special testing accommodations?

Step 1: Complete the Request for Accommodations Form

Please complete the updated form and email it to certinfo@nrf.com. The purpose of the form is to briefly explain why the candidate needs the accommodations. Ex. “According to Kevin’s IEP he requires extended time during testing.”

Step 2: Have the Candidate Register for the Test in Advance*

On the registration page, your candidates will see a box to click for ADA Accommodations. Once the box has been clicked, a list will appear from which they can select the accommodations needed. Once the registration has been completed, your candidate should receive a confirmation email within 48 hours that accommodations have been approved.

Step 3: Confirm the Candidate’s Password

Typically, candidates receive a password after they complete the registration process.  However, for these candidates, that password won’t be generated until after the accommodations have been approved. You’ll need to look up the registration password for any ADA candidate on your online roster the day of the exam. You will need your proctor credentials and your Site ID to access the online roster. Make sure you have those in advance. If you have misplaced those credentials, contact Castle Worldwide at 919-572-6880.

My student never received the certificate/digital badge. How can I check the status?

Please contact Castle Worldwide at 919-572-6880 with the candidate's name and email address to check the status. 

**All candidates who test on or after December 1, 2014 will receive a digital badge in lieu of a hard copy certificate. See our digital badge FAQs for more information. The pertinent information is sent to the student via email, so if he/she did not use a valid, unique email address at the time of registration the digital badge won’t be delivered. 

How can my students replace lost certificates or retrieve missing digital badges?

Our exciting digital badge program launched December 1, 2014. This change will impact those who wish to obtain a reprint of their certifications. Please read the options below carefully to see which best applies to your student. If you’d like more information about our digital badges, visit our FAQs page.

If your student tested before December 1, 2014 and has misplaced his/her printed certificate please complete the Certification Re-issue Request Form and return it to Castle Worldwide.

Starting December 1, we will only issue hard-copy certificates, to those who specifically request them, until we deplete our remaining inventory. For those candidates who'd like to receive the new badge, or who don’t specify their preference, we will issue the new digital badge that corresponds to their certifications.

If your student tested on or after December 1, 2014 and has not received the email containing the digital badge information, please have him/her contact Castle Worldwide at 919-572-6880. The student will be expected to provide a valid, unique email address.

How can my students renew their certification?

NRF Foundation's certifications are valid for three years. If your students wish to renew their certifications, have them complete the application form. They are not required to re-take the examination.

Beginning December 1, 2014 certificants will receive a digital badge in lieu of a hard copy certificate. Visit our FAQs page for more information on that exciting initiative. 

Can a candidate retake the exam?

If a candidate does not pass the exam, they may retake the exam after a 30-day waiting period, using a new voucher. To request a retake voucher, email certinfo@nrf.com.

Who can I contact if I have problems during testing?

NRF staff members are always willing to help. However, if you have an urgent issue immediately before or during testing, Castle should always be your first call. The Customer Service line is open Monday through Friday (8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST) 919-572-6880.

Why did the certification names change?

December 1, 2014 we changed the names of our certifications as follows:

  • National Professional Certification in Customer Service became NRF’s Customer Service and Sales Certification.
  • National Professional Certification in Sales became NRF’s Advanced Customer Service and Sales Certification.
  • National Professional Certification in Retail Management became NRF’s Retail Management Certification.
  • Professional Retail Business Credential became NRF’s Retail Business Credential.

The new, streamlined names better demonstrate the stackable nature of the certifications; rather than seeing the two as unrelated, they are now clearly building blocks to a career pathway. It is important to note that there is NO CHANGE to the content of the exams or curriculum. This is simply a name change to better illustrate the content that already exists on each of the tests. The curriculum options are as follows:

  • Retail Operations will prepare candidates for BOTH exams.
  • Retailing Smarts 1-4 for the Customer Service and Sales exam.
  • Retailing Smarts 5-8 for the Advanced Customer Service and Sales exam.

The names launched December 1st to coincide with the launch of our Digital Badge program. Click here for more information on that exciting new initiative. 

Resources for organizations

Are you a retailer, school or workforce development organization? Learn how to get people trained and tested.

Purchase vouchers and workbooks

Already know what training materials you need to purchase? Buy testing vouchers and training publications online. 

We're here to help

For general questions about the program or about making a purchase, contact Jenny Hammock at 202-626-8130 or hammockj@nrf.com

For questions before or during testing, contact Castle Worldwide:

Customer Service
8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST, M-F
919-572-6880