Certification Maintenance FAQ

This list of questions and answers is an evolving resource. We will add, clarify, and revise content as appropriate. If you have any questions or concerns, please email [email protected].

Q: What is "certification maintenance"?

Certification maintenance ensures that editors remain up to date by engaging in and documenting professional development activities. The life sciences, the practice of editing, and the English language itself are all in constant evolution; certification maintenance allows certified editors to demonstrate that their skills and knowledge are current and relevant.

Q: How will certification maintenance affect me as a certified Editor in the Life Sciences (ELS)?

Beginning January 1, 2024, ELS certification will be valid for 5 years, regardless of when initial certification was awarded. You must keep a record of your ongoing professional development activities (e.g., courses, attendance at conferences, hours worked, volunteering, upgrade to ELS[D]), ensure that you accumulate 50 professional development points over the 5-year period, and submit your records and your fee to renew the certification for another 5 years. You can also renew your credential by retaking (and passing) the certification exam.

Q: ELS certification was created more than 30 years ago. Why is a certification maintenance program being implemented now?

Newer certification programs consider certification maintenance best practice. BELS has contemplated the possibility of certification maintenance for several years. A task force, and later a committee, conducted research on the certification programs of peer organizations and other professional groups. Their work resulted in the recommendation to the BELS Board of Directors to adopt certification maintenance as a core component of the ELS certification program, and the Board approved the program.

Q: Why is certification maintenance necessary?

Credential maintenance is a recognized component of certification programs around the world. Certification maintenance shows clients and employers that editors with an ELS credential are keeping their skills and knowledge up to date. It also encourages certified editors to engage in ongoing professional development.

Q: When will these new requirements be instituted?

The certification maintenance program will come into effect on January 1, 2024.

Q: How can I maintain my ELS certification, and who should I contact if I have questions?

Maintaining your certification is easy:

  • Take part in ongoing professional development. Courses, conferences, volunteering, mentoring, upgrading your ELS certification to ELS(D), and even working hours can all be used to count toward your certification maintenance.
  • Track and document your professional activities using the BELS certification tracker.
  • When your time for renewal comes due, submit your records and your renewal fee to the BELS office for verification. The BELS office will send you confirmation of your certification renewal for another 5 years.

If you have questions about certification maintenance, please contact the BELS office at [email protected].

Q: If I have earned the diplomate designation, ELS(D), is certification maintenance still required?

Those who have earned an ELS(D) credential must also take part in certification maintenance. However, becoming a diplomate can be used to satisfy your renewal requirements for one cycle, regardless of when the ELS(D) was earned.

Q: Where can I find professional development and educational activities to fulfill the requirements for certification maintenance?

To fulfill the requirements, you will need to earn 50 professional development points over the 5-year period. You can find examples of approved activities and their related point values on the BELS website.

Q: What is the best way to keep track and document certification maintenance activities?

To help you keep track of your certification maintenance activities, BELS has developed a certification maintenance tracker. Use the tracker to document your activities as you engage in them, and then submit a transcript generated from the tracker when your renewal is due. View a quick guide for using the tracker here.

Q: How will BELS verify that I've met certification requirement criteria?

Although BELS predominantly will rely on the honor system, we will audit 10% of renewals each year. If your renewal is audited, you will be asked to submit proof of registration or attendance, such as correspondence, payment receipts, or other related documentation.

Q: What happens if I don't maintain my certification?

As of January 1, 2024, credentials awarded by BELS will be valid for 5 years. If you do not participate in certification maintenance, your credential will expire on December 31, 2028.

Q: If my certification lapses, how can I reinstate it?

You must retake and pass the current certification examination.

Q: What if I am retiring or not working in the profession anymore? Do I still need to maintain my certification?

Certificants who retire (and therefore are no longer working as editors in the life sciences) are not expected to renew their ELS/ELS(D) credential every 5 years. Instead, they may complete this form to notify BELS of their change in employment status, and their names will be moved to the “Retired” category of the ELS and ELS(D) roster.