PR practitioners need accreditation because there is no form of licensing available. Firms and clients will be more willing to hire a practitioner if they are accredited. The Public Relations Society of America formed its Universal Accreditation Program in January 1998. Accredited practitioners can use the initials APR after their names,which signifies that they are accredited in public relations.
Since this program began, more and more businesses are specifying that they want to hire only accredited PR professionals. To become accredited, a practitioner must be a member of PRSA or a partner organization. They must also have at least five years of paid, full-time experience in the professional practice of public relations, or in the teaching or administration of public relations courses in an accredited college or university. The practitioner must also pass an oral and written exam. If they pass, they are accredited for life.
As part of the Maintenance of Accreditation Program, the accredited practitioner must accumulate a certain number of "points" in continuing education, professionalism or service categories. Clients hiring accredited PR practitioners know they are hiring someone who practices knowledgeable and ethical public relations. The accredited practitioner maintains an ongoing education in the field and is committed to working at the highest level possible.