The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How
Safe Ride News Publications is not an affiliate of Safe Kids Worldwide (SKW), the CPS program’s certifying body. But as CPSTs ourselves, we know techs have questions about recertification, so we hope the following information is helpful. However, remember that the ultimate resource for certification and recertification information is SKW.
Very clear and detailed instructions for how to recertify can be found at How to recertify, by SKW.
Scroll down to read about recertification, or select from the following to jump to a section:
- How?: Seat Check Sign Offs
- How?: Community Education
- How?: Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
- How?: Instructor Hours
- How?: Payment
WHO Must Recertify?
CPSTs: All Child Passenger Safety Technicians—aka CPSTs or techs— must recertify every two years to remain in good standing.
CPST-Instructors: CPST-Instructors are CPSTs who have completed additional steps to be qualified to teach the national CPST training course. Every two years, CPST-Is must complete all the same recertification activities as a CPST, plus additional qualified teaching hours. (In this resource, assume that certification steps defined as being for CPSTs also apply to CPST-Is.)
Recently expired?: CPSTs whose certification has lapsed and who have kept current on their CPS skills may be eligible to take a 1-day recertification class to reinstate their certification status. Contact your local coalition leader and/or state coordinator for information.
A list of state coordinators can be found here:https://www.nhtsa.gov/car-seats-and-booster-seats/training-contacts-state-child-passenger-safety
WHAT Is Recertification?
Recertification is a process that requires all CPSTs to complete certain activities and enter them in their CPST profile every two years. Once all activities have been entered, the final step to complete recertification is making a payment to the certifying body, Safe Kids, from the CPST’s online profile page.
This fillable form on the SKW page is a comprehensive tool to help CPSTs.
Keep track of recertification steps.
Forgotten your user name or password for logging onto your profile page?
Follow these instructions (#10).
WHY Do CPSTs Have to Recertify?
CPST certification indicates that an individual has completed a rigorous, standardized course overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. After a tech has completed the initial training course, the recertification process helps maintain the quality of this certification by ensuring that all CPSTs retain and build their skills over time.
WHERE Do I Go to Recertify?
Unlike the initial certification training, each technician guides his or her own recertification activities, and these can occur at a wide variety of places—at each technician’s discretion—such as while using a computer at home or in the workplace, at a state or national conference, or at community events like inspection stations, checkup events, or safety fairs. In fact, for each recertification cycle, it is likely that a tech will find opportunities to complete recertification steps in multiple environments. Many options exist, so each tech’s approach can be crafted to fit their interests, needs, and convenience. It’s always a good idea to be on the lookout for activities that can be put toward recertification!
Although CPSTs recertify independently, there are people available to help. Get in touch with your local CPS mentors, instructors, or state coordinator if you need help planning your activities.
Ultimately, the “where” of recertification is the CPST’s profile page, That’s where a tech’s certification status is maintained. When you’ve completed any step toward recertification, go to your CPS profile page to log it. If you need help logging in, check out Safe Kids’ “How to Log In” guide. If you still have problems, send an email to [email protected]
WHEN Do I Have to Recertify?
After two years: Certification lasts two years, so after a CPST’s initial class or recertification is complete, a recertification deadline will be assigned for two years afterward. CPSTs and CPST-Is should keep track of their own deadline. Although you may get reminders from your local CPS leadership, each tech is ultimately responsible for completing the recertification process by their deadline.
Hint: Click the Wallet Card button on your CPS profile page and print the card, as this will help you remember your technician number and certification cycle dates, as well as provide proof of current certification.
Over the two years: CPSTs have 24 months—that’s 730 days (731 if it spans a leap year)—to recertify. That’s a good long time! CPSTs don’t have to wait until close to their deadline to complete or enter activities—and they shouldn’t! CPSTs can start working on steps to complete recertification from Day 1 until their recertification deadline. It’s best to enter completed activity right away, before it’s forgotten.
Paying early (up to four months before deadline): After all activities are complete and entered, a CPST’s profile page will shows 100% completion. Payment can be made to complete certification up to 4 months ahead of a CPST’s recertification deadline, as indicated by the “Recert Available” field. GOOD NEWS: Rest assured that paying early will not shorten a CPST’s certification cycle. A CPST’s next cycle will begin after the original recertifcation deadline, NOT on the early payment date. So there’s no reason to delay!
HOW Do I Recertify?
As explained above, each CPST is in charge of his/her own recertification steps and should start working on completing and entering them as soon as possible. There are three categories of activities to keep in mind over a tech’s two-year cycle:
- Seat check sign-offs
- Community education
- Continuing education units (CEUS)
The following is provided to support CPSTs in these activities.
Note: Although activities are summarized here, SKW’s instructions at the certification website provide the official guidance for recertification. Go to that site to log into you CPST profile page in order to enter your activity and pay, as well.
A fillable form to help you keep track of the following activities can be found here:
Fillable form (pdf)
Seat Check Sign-Offs
Each CPST and CPST-I must complete five types of car seats checks that an instructor (or official tech proxy) can sign off on:
- RF-only car seat
- RF convertible car seat
- Car seat used FF in harness mode
- Booster seat
- LATCH installation (can be combined with one of the above)
Once you have completed sign-off for any of the five seat checks, enter it in your profile under “Seat Checks.” After clicking “Add/Submit Seat Checks” in your profile (see image above), you’ll be offered entry points for each of the five seat check types. As shown in the RF-only example below (called Rear-Facing Infant CSS here), what you’ll need to know are the date and the last name of the instructor or tech proxy who you’ve worked with to sign you off for each check type. HINT: As a courtesy, do this as soon as possible after the activity so that the instructor/proxy has this fresh in their mind.
Once you have entered this information, the system will email the instructor/tech proxy to let them know that a sign-off is awaiting their review. Some instructors/tech proxies may appreciate a polite heads-up from the CPST as well; it’s a good idea to ask the instructor/tech proxy what they prefer.
Finding an instructor/tech proxy: If you are not already in touch with an instructor in your area, your local coalition leader and/or state coordinator should be able to help. You can also search for instructors by filtering for your city or zip code using the Find a Tech feature.
Ensure that you’ve made arrangements ahead of time with an instructor so that they can plan for seat check sign-offs with you. Remember, recertification sign off is different than senior-checker sign off, in which the tech or instructor serves as a double-check once a check is nearly complete. Instead, it’s like Skills Assessment 4 of the current CPST curriculum (2020), where instructors must be able to see and hear the full interaction with the caregiver.
Seat check alternatives: The alternative option, implemented in 2020 to alleviate some of the challenges brought on by the pandemic, was discontinued on December 31, 2022.
Helpful resources from SKW on alternative options:
How to Enter Recert Alternatives 9-2020.mp4
Click to access COVID-19%20Recert%20Alternatives%202020-9-25.pdf
CPS Audit?: Keep track of your seat check activity so you can log it accurately. However, this activity is not subject to audit.
Each CPST and CPST-I must record a certain amount of community education, depending on the activity. This shows the CPST has spent time interacting with the public and/or learning about how to be a better educator or program manager. There are three general categories that qualify for community education:
- Attend a checkup event (min. two hours and one other tech present)
- Teach the public (attendees not CPSTs, min. 4 hours)
- Attend a qualifying educational session (one-hour)
The sample input page below provides additional detail.
Finding Community Education options: Check with a local instructor, coalition leader, or your state CPS coordinator to find checkup events or educational sessions. Many sessions at state, regional, and national CPS conferences that are not marked as CEU sessions qualify for educational session (#3) credit. This session may also be a recorded webinar, and many pre-approved options are available here.
Entering Community Education Activity: Select “Comm Education” under Recertification/ Action. As shown below, CPSTs must know the date(s) of the activity, select the type (from a scroll-down menu), provide a brief description, and give the number of hours.
CPS Audit?: Keep track of your community education activity so you can log it accurately. However, this activity is not subject to audit; therefore, no paperwork/certificate/document is necessary to prove completion of community education activity.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
Each CPST and CPST-I must complete a minimum of six CEUs during each certification cycle. As the name suggests, continuing education should build on—or continue—a CPSTs learning beyond the initial CPST training course. Therefore, qualifying education should advance learning beyond the basic training (so, simply monitoring the technician training course would not qualify). A unit equates to an hour of education (with rounding from 3/4 hours allowed).
CEU Formats: Qualifying educational content can be offered to CPSTs in four basic formats. In all formats, proof of completion/attendance should be obtained and saved by the CPST for at least three months after recertification, as proof of CEUs must be provided if a CPST is audited.
- In-person session or workshop:
- In-person CEU sessions are commonly offered through local, state/regional, or national CPS update conferences. Most locales offer these opportunities to techs, so local leadership and/or state CPS coordinators should promote these opportunities. If you do not think you’re on the list to be notified of these update sessions, contact your state CPS coordinator.
- An in-person session can also more informal. For example, a CPST can organize a review of new car seat models for technicians at a retail store. Any CPST can plan and conduct a CEU session for other techs; use the CEU Preapproval Request Form to ensure that the session qualifies.
- Teleconference (live)
- Some professionals have teleconference options for continuing education. This format is used less often as options for audio and video have become readily available.
- Online/Web session (live or recorded)
- Safe Kids, through a grant from State Farm, offers live online webinars on a regular basis. Notification and sign-up links for upcoming webinars can be found here, on the Safe Kids Buckle Up Facebook page, and in the bi-monthly CPS Express that’s sent to all CPSTs via email (past issues are posted here).
- Many CPS update conferences are offered live using an online format, and many states welcome participation from those in other states. Ask your state coordinator about webinar opportunities.
- From a CPST’s online profile, click Online CEUs under Recertification/Action to find a couple manufacturer extranet sites that offer CEU sessions online.
- The CPS Board has several prerecorded webinars (some of which were offered originally as live webinars) posted at www.cpsboard.org/recertification. To earn a CEU for each of these webinars, first create an account on the site. When logged in, view the webinar and then click on and take the associated online quiz. The system will generate a certificate for a passing score (8 out of 10) and will keep a record of CEU activity for proof.
- Other recorded webinars are offered by Safe Kids and some states. Links to these recordings can be found here.
- Newsletters/Manuals/Journals (in print, online or hard copy)
- Reading a newsletter may qualify for CEUs; check with the publisher to be sure. In general, a subscription is typically worth 1 CEU per year. Examples include Safe Ride News and SBS News; CPS Express does not qualify for CEUs. The CEU isn’t earned until the full year of issues has been read. Therefore, a subscriber to a bi-monthly or quarterly newsletter does not earn the full CEU at the point of subscribing, but rather when the last issue of the full year has been received/read. Save the subscription receipt as proof of this CEU. No quiz is required; subscribers are expected to read all issues.
- Some professions have industry journals that may qualify for CEUs. Check with Stephanie Heitsch ([email protected]) to confirm.
- Certain manuals can be used to earn CEUs by taking a quiz. For example, on this website, under the CEU tab, find quizzes for the LATCH Manual and School Bus Safety Handbook. A score of 80% must be earned on these online quizzes to qualify for 1 CEU each. Save the score notification document as proof in case of an audit. NOTE: For this type of CEU, quizzes are designed to verify that continuing education has occurred. The quiz taker must access and use the manual associated with the quiz. Do not attempt the quiz without having the manual available.
Entering CEUs: From a CPST’s profile page, select Add/Review CEUs. Then select Enter Hours (on the first screen example shown below) and then the type of CEU activity (described above and listed as options 8a–8d in the second screen below).
Be prepared with the information needed to complete the entry, including the date(s) involved, the type of activity, a short description, a URL (if online), the presenter (if applicable), and the Event ID (if pre-approved).
Sample Screen #1
Sample Screen #2
CEU Audits: After entering the information, be sure to save all proof documents for CEUs for at least 3 months after the recertification deadline. Within this time window, a CPST’s name may be randomly selected for a recertification audit, which focuses exclusively on CEUs. This is not scary, like an IRS audit! It simply requires the CPST to submit documents that verify the submitted CEUs have been earned. Documentation might include stamped programs from in-person events, emailed certificates from webinars or quizzes, or paid receipts for journals or newsletters. NOTE: Other aspects of recertification are not audited.
Difficulty Finding/Completing CEUs?: CEU options are not intended to be a time or financial burden, and SKW strives to assist all techs in finding them easily. To assist with this, SKW has posted a helpful guide here.
Instructors Only: Teaching Hours
A CPST-I, in addition to CPST activities, must also log at least 20 hours teaching approved segments of the CPST certification course. Up to 10 hours may be completed teaching the standardized Recertification Training.
Teaching Hour Alternatives: Like the seat check sign-off alternatives, this option ended on December 31, 2022.
When all activities are complete and the CPST is within 4 months of the recertification deadline, a Recertify button will be provided under Recertification/Action. All techs will have an option to use a credit card or check. Techs affiliated with an organization account will also be offered purchase order and e-voucher options. Find more information about how to make payment here.
A receipt will be provided by email. To find a receipt after the fact, look under Payments after selecting Activities & History under the Actions sidebar on a CPST’s profile page.
Completing payment for recertification up to 4 months prior to the deadline does not reset a tech’s recertification date earlier. The next certification deadline will still be 2 years from the current certification deadline.
After you’ve recertified, download a copy of your CPST Wallet card right away. Use this card to reinstate your account for using the National Digital Car Seat Check Form (NDCF)—be sure to do this prior to your expiration date so you won’t be locked out of your NDCF account! To update your account with your new proof of certification, go to www.carseatcheckform.org and log in. Then click on My Account at the top right, click “Edit” under your name, and then scroll down to “Tech Certification.” Click “Remove” to remove your old card and then upload the PDF file of your new card. Be sure to click “Save” before exiting.
- Cass Herring, Certification Advisor ([email protected])
- Wardell Bonner, Sr. Customer Service Assoc. ([email protected] or 202-875-6330) Assistance recertifying, managing a course, or paying a fee (roster issues)
- Stephanie Heitsch, Certification Associate ([email protected]) Questions about pre-approvals for CEUs
- Debbie Landoskey, Quality Assurance Specialist ([email protected]) Questions about CEU audit