NALMS Professional Certification Program

Contact Chris Mikolajczyk, NALMS Professional Certification Program Lead, at cmiko@princetonhydro.com
or the NALMS office at info@nalms.org.

NALMS Profile of the Professional Certification Program

The North American Lake Management Society's mission is to forge partnerships among citizens, scientists, and professionals to foster the management and protection of lakes and reservoirs for today and tomorrow.

The Certified Lake Manager (CLM) and Certified Lake Professional (CLP) program has been established to aid this mission through the identification of individuals who have exceptional training and experience in lake management, thereby establishing themselves as valuable participants in the mission of NALMS.

A lake manager or professional is a person who is directly involved in the comprehensive management of a pond, lake, reservoir or other bodies of water and its watershed and makes decisions which affect the quality and uses of the body of water. This person will be primarily responsible for implementing appropriate measures and/or for making recommendations to the governing management body.

A certified lake manager or certified lake professional is an individual who has satisfied the NALMS requirements intended to properly prepare that person to perform the above duties with maximum competence. CLMs/ CLPs establish themselves as both knowledgeable and experienced professionals by meeting the requirements.

All applications must be submitted to the NALMS office, along with a check for the appropriate fee, as follows: 

Attn: CLM/CLP Program, North American Lake Management Society, 
PO Box 5443, 
Madison, WI 53705

Click the links below for:

The NALMS Mission and Certified Lake Managers

It is the mission of NALMS to promote better understanding of lakes, ponds, reservoirs, impoundments and their watersheds as ecological units. In encouraging protection, restoration and management of these water bodies, NALMS promotes the exchange of information about lake management and public awareness and support; NALMS also provides guidance to public and private agencies involved in lake management, identifies needs and encourages research on lake ecology and watershed management.

The Certified Lakes Manager (CLM)/Certified Lakes Professional (CLP) program has been established to aid this mission through the identification of individuals who have exceptional training and experience in lake ecology and management, thereby establishing themselves as valuable participants in the mission of NALMS.

Lake Manager Certification

A lake manager is a person who is directly involved in the comprehensive management of a pond, lake, reservoir or other body of water, and its watershed, and makes decisions that affect the quality and uses of the body of water through management recommendations and implementation of those recommendations. This person will likely be primarily responsible for making recommendations to the governing management body regarding the implementation of a management program and for supervising or conducting that implementation.

A Certified Lake Manager is an individual who has satisfied the NALMS requirements intended to properly prepare that person to perform the above duties with a maximum of competence. By meeting the requirements, CLMs establish themselves as both knowledgeable and experienced professionals working with lakes. To gain certification, an individual must demonstrate training and expertise through a specified combination of education and experience. To maintain certification, a CLM must continue learning through the acquisition of Continuing Education Units (CEUs). This is best accomplished by participation in NALMS programs, but continuing education and training from alternative sources is recognized with proper documentation. While initial certification requires substantial commitment on the part of a potential CLM, NALMS places a high premium on continuing education for re-certification; the program is not just a stamp of approval for previous training and experience, but a vehicle to ensure that the highest standards of professional awareness and performance are maintained.

Lake Professional Certification

A lake professional is a person who is directly involved in the comprehensive management of a pond, lake, reservoir or other body of water, and its watershed, and provides critical technical or socio/economic data used in making decisions that affect the quality and uses of the body of water. This person may be more specialized, governing management body or its representative (such as a CLM or implementation coordinator).

A Certified Lake Professional is an individual who has satisfied the NALMS requirements intended to properly prepare that person to perform the above duties with a maximum of competence. There is no difference in the educational requirements for CLM and CLP, professional experience/function determines which certification is appropriate. By meeting the requirements, CLPs establish themselves as both knowledgeable and experienced professionals working with lakes. To gain certification, an individual must demonstrate training and expertise through a specified combination of education and experience. To maintain certification, a CLP must continue learning through the acquisition of Continuing Education Units (CEUs). This is best accomplished by participation in NALMS programs, but continuing education and training from alternative sources is recognized with proper documentation. While initial certification requires substantial commitment on the part of a potential CLP, NALMS places a high premium on continuing education for re-certification; the program is not just a stamp of approval for previous training and experience, but a vehicle to ensure that the highest standards of professional awareness and performance are maintained.

The Benefits of Becoming a CLM/CLP

In addition to the personal satisfaction of achieving the pinnacle of professional development in lake management, CLM/CLPs are entitled to special consideration within the NALMS organization, including recognition on the NALMS website and use as the primary resource for references and referrals. CLM/CLPs also receive a plaque and a lapel pin that identify them to their colleagues.

Earning the CLM/CLP Designation

The Requirements

There are two essential components in the CLM/CLP program: education and experience. The educational requirement has two elements: obtaining at least a four-year undergraduate degree (B.S., B.A. or equivalent) and acquisition of at least 6 credits in each of 5 categories and 14 additional credits in one of these categories (the CLM/CLP’s “major”). Categories include:

  • Technical water resources (lake) science: A CLM/CLP should have an understanding of the elements and functions of aquatic systems. This includes training in disciplines directly related to aquatic science or engineering, and could include such courses as water chemistry, taxonomy of aquatic organisms, physiology, water treatment, or lake management.
  • Technical watershed (land) science: A CLM/CLP should have an understanding of watershed features and processes which affect lakes. This includes training in the technical aspects of watersheds, and could include such courses as soil science, wetlands science, taxonomy of terrestrial organisms, land use planning, watershed management, or erosion control.
  • Communications: A CLM/CLP must have the ability to communicate concepts, findings and recommendations to interest groups and governing organizations. This includes training in a variety of communication modes, and could include courses in speaking, writing, computer science, education, or media presentation.
  • Business and Management: A CLM/CLP will need to comprehend the business and management aspects of lake and watershed management to be effective. This includes knowledge of the principles of business and management, and could include courses in economics, banking, accounting, personnel management, or business planning.
  • Policy, Legal and Governmental Aspects: A CLM/CLP should have a working knowledge of the governmental and legal frameworks under which we function and be familiar with the policies that affect lake management. This includes familiarity with the processes for formulating and implementing laws and regulations, and could include courses in organizational structure, political science, environmental law, or governmental processes. Internships may be particularly appropriate in this category.
  • The experience requirement involves a minimum of two years of employment in a position that meets the description of a lake manager or lake professional. Direct involvement in the management of lakes is considered essential, although there is some flexibility in what qualifies as “direct involvement”. The essential element is clear participation in the process whereby lake needs are assessed and programs to meet them are developed and/or implemented. It is not considered sufficient to simply supply general, non-technical information for use by others, pass on the recommendations of others for implementation, or to operate equipment used in implementation. Qualifying lake manager experience should include involvement in nearly all phases of a project, although prospective CLMs do not necessarily have to be in charge of any phase. Qualifying lake professional experience should include involvement in the appropriate technical phases of a project pertinent to his/her specific expertise, although prospective CLPs do not necessarily have to be in charge of any phase.
Meeting the educational requirements

After obtaining the required college degree, there are three distinct approaches whereby one may satisfy the educational requirements of the CLM/CLP program:

  1. Course work from an accredited institution of higher learning (typically associated with a degree
  2. Continuing education units (CEUs) as approved by the NALMS Certification Board
  3. Credit for experience or on-the-job training as documented by the applicant and approved by the NALMS Certification Board.

1. Course work from an accredited college or university is accepted at the credit level listed on an official transcript, providing that the applicant received a grade of C or higher. Transcripts for all such course work must be provided with the application, and applicants are required to partition the appropriate courses among the five educational categories in which education must be demonstrated, using the form provided in the application package.

2. Where course work from a degree program is insufficient to meet the educational requirements of the CLM/CLP program, approved CEUs may be substituted. The acceptability of CEUs and the amount of credit to be awarded is dependent upon a review of documentation submitted by the applicant to the NALMS Certification Board in cases where CEUs have not been pre-assigned by that Board. Prospective applicants are urged to submit detailed supporting documentation for CEUs for which credit is requested, such as a detailed course or workshop description, a program, a syllabus, and/or copies of relevant materials. Evidence of attendance is also required. CEUs are normally pre-assigned for all qualifying NALMS-sponsored activities, in accordance with the following guidelines:

Category: Service to NALMS or its Affiliates (Annually) CEUs
  • Serving on a committee 0.6
  • Chairing a committee 1.0
  • Chairing a symposium session of NALMS 0.2
  • Presenting a paper at a NALMS-sponsored conference 0.4
  • Serving as a National or Chapter officer of NALMS 1.0
  • Teaching a NALMS-approved workshop 0.8
Category: Authorship
  • Sole author of a peer-reviewed journal article 1.0
  • Co-author of a peer-reviewed journal article 0.6
  • Author of LakeLine article (or other approved publication) 0.8
Category: Classroom Education
  • Course work with assigned CEUs As assigned
  • Approved workshops As assigned
  • Approved symposium sessions As assigned

CEUs are assigned in advance for most NALMS events for which CEUs are offered; 0.2 to 0.4 CEUs are typically awarded for a day of specifically approved symposium sessions, while 0.6 to 0.8 CEUs are often offered for full day workshops. The general guideline is 1 CEU for each 10 hours of real contact time.

Educational opportunities outside of NALMS will be assigned CEUs by the Certification Board upon submission of appropriate documentation.

Applicants must fill out the provided form for partitioning of CEUs among the five educational categories in which training is required. This form is virtually identical to the partitioning form for course work from an accredited institution, and is intended as a supplement to it.

There are several restrictions on the acquisition and use of CEUs to meet the educational requirement of the CLM/CLP program:

  • No multiple credit is granted for similar publications.
  • Publications must be submitted for review.
  • Evidence of service accomplishments must be documented for approval.

3. Where course work and CEUs are still insufficient to satisfy the educational requirements, the applicant’s experience may be substituted if it is clearly relevant and illustrates competence in the educational categories where deficiencies remain. This option is intended primarily for those with extensive experience through a lake management career, while most likely having attended college at a time when current environmental curricula did not exist. It may also be useful for those who gained their business or organizational experience through years of running a business or working within an institutional framework. To be awarded educational credit for work experience, the applicant must submit clear documentation of how the educational requirement has been met through experience. It is not sufficient to merely note a number of years of activity in the field; documentation should provide information necessary to convince the Certification Board of the applicant’s qualifications in any educational area for which sufficient course work or CEUs are lacking.

Fee structure

The application fee for either the CLM/CLP designations is $250. All applicants must be NALMS members or submit a membership application and fee with their application for CLM/CLP approval. A check or money order, made payable to NALMS, must be submitted with the application. If either the CLM/CLP designation is not granted, $200 will be refunded.