NALMS Certification Program

The aim of our Professional Certification Program is to recognize highly trained and experienced lake managers and professionals and guide their continued career and leadership development with the three-year recertification cycle. If your professional work has a direct impact on lakes, reservoirs, ponds, and their watersheds, you should look into earning a certification as a NALMS Certified Lake Manager (CLM) or Certified Lake Professional (CLP).

Early career professionals who have completed relevant academic training (bachelor’s degree or above in relevant disciplines) and just started earning full-time professional experience in lake management are encouraged to apply for provisional CLM or CLP (pCLM or pCLP). The provisional status may be removed after evidence of 3 years of satisfactory professional experience and evidence of continued education is vetted by the NALMS Professional Certification Program.

Certified Lake Manager (CLM)

The term “lake manager” generally refers to a person who manages a pond, lake, or reservoir and its watershed and makes decisions that affect the quality and uses of the waterbody. A typical lake manager is 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 NALMS Certified Lake Manager (CLM) is a highly competent lake manager who has satisfied the NALMS certification requirements in terms of scientific knowledge as well as professional experiences in direct, on-site lake management.

Certified Lake Professional (CLP)

NALMS defines a “lake professional” as a person who contributes to the comprehensive management of ponds, lakes, or reservoirs and their watersheds by providing critical technical or socioeconomic data. A lake professional specializes in one or more specific areas of lake and watershed science (e.g., taxonomic identification, wetland characterization, or research and development of new techniques) and is primarily responsible for providing expert insights into lake ecology and ecological services and making technical recommendations to the governing management body or its representatives, such as a CLM or an implementation coordinator. A lake professional is typically not responsible for lake-specific, on-site management actions.

A NALMS Certified Lake Professional (CLP) is a highly competent lake professional who has satisfied the NALMS certification requirements in terms of scientific knowledge as well as professional experiences in one or more subfields of lake science, such as aquatic pesticide application and development, fisheries technologies, field biology (e.g., taxonomic identification and habitat delineation), and water quality sampling and analyses.

What do you get when you become a NALMS CLM or CLP?


  • You will receive a framed certificate and an electronic seal (upon request) to display your expert status to your current and potential clients/customers, employers, partners/collaborators, etc.
  • Get noticed in our online CLM and CLP directory. The directory connects you with people or groups seeking help. (Viewable to the general public.)
  • Certified members are searchable in the main NALMS Member Directory. (Viewable to NALMS members only.)

Special Attention

  • NALMS leadership and staff use CLMs and CLPs as primary resources for references and referrals.

Continued Professional Growth

  • The 3-year recertification system ensures that CLMs and CLPs maintain their professional knowledge current and give back to the lake management community via service and leadership activities.

For details, please refer to the CLM/CLP handbook.
Please read this handbook carefully before beginning your application.

Certification Application        Recertification Application


Contact the Professional Certification Program Lead at