ABCs Accreditation


Credit: SalvoPhoto

IABC has accredited communicators since 1973 through a rigorous process including assessment of professional portfolios and a written and oral exam. As of 2014, there are 1001 ABCs globally within IABC’s membership. Our ABCs are the senior subject matter experts that we count on to:

  • Participate on international Blue Ribbon panels for the Gold Quill Awards.
  • Mentor others at the entry and mid-career level of the communication profession.
  • Serve in key leadership roles within the organization, leading key initiatives that advance the profession.
  • Contribute their knowledge and expertise of strategic communication through committees.
  • Help us keep the grass roots levels of our organization at the chapter and regional levels healthy and productive.

While IABC formally closed its Accreditation Program in 2013, the foundation that is now in place to move forward toward ISO certification for communication professionals is a lasting legacy that will continue to increase competencies in the industry for generations to come.

We believe that attaining an internationally recognized standard based on a common understanding of key principles and job competencies defined by research will elevate the role of strategic communication as a key contributor to business results. We’re committed to broad consultation within the industry, with IABC members and communication professionals around the world who want to make a difference to the organizations and clients that they serve.

Over the past several years, we have conducted broad research to determine the needs of communication professionals throughout all stages of their career, and build a global foundation for this program. We have identified Global Standards — four distinct career paths and related job competencies. In partnership with a professional credentialing consultant, we’re working toward a certification program that will help the communication profession evolve to the next level.

“The accreditation process has already helped me to work more strategically and to be more focused on the way I do things. I’m a stronger communicator all around.”

–Clay Adams, ABC / Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


What is an Accredited Business Communicator (ABC)?

An Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) is a proven communication professional. The ABC is a brand of distinction carried by about 10 percent of all IABC members.

Accreditation through IABC represents a personal commitment to the profession. It demonstrates a professional ability to successfully manage and perform tasks essential to effective communication.

Meet IABC’s Accredited Business Communicators

Accredited communicators have:

  • At least nine years of combined college and practical experience in the profession
  • A broad platform of communication skills and strategic application
  • Demonstrate the ability to deliver tangible results against business needs
  • Experience providing communication counsel to others

IABC’s ABC community is vibrant and filled with senior professionals who know how to get the job done in ways that deliver results that matter—everything you’d expect from a senior member of your team.


Top reasons to hire an ABC

When you hire an ABC, you are investing in a professional who can align strategic communication with the needs of your business and your audiences. ABCs are master strategists and big picture thinkers who:

  1. Plan and deliver meaningful communication programs contributing to organizational goals in ways you can measure against business performance indicators.
  2. Are experts at interpreting research as an input to inform strategic communication planning and implementation.
  3. See your business through the eyes of your audiences, and carefully analyze their needs, expectations and communication preferences.
  4. Know how to get to the heart of the matter with the right approach, the best channels and effective communication tools.
  5. Will ensure high-quality production within budget, focus on key messages and manage communication programs to deliver optimal results.

ABCs bring energy, know-how and commitment that help organizations solve business issues and take advantage of opportunities to grow. They are capable communication professionals who think strategically and deliver compelling and creative insights that build reputation and motivate audiences to behave in ways that benefit the organization.

If you’re looking for a communication professional who knows the business, has a broad scope of experience and meets rigorous international standards hiring an ABC could be among the best business decisions you make.

For questions or comments, please email


The Path Forward

ABCs hold a place of honor within IABC and the International Executive Board (IEB) is grateful for the gift of knowledge, expertise, and countless hours contributed to the program over the years by thousands of volunteers. We salute those who have served on committees and task forces, those who have graded portfolios and exams, those who have mentored accreditation candidates at the chapter and regional levels, and those who have pursued accreditation.

Marketing and recognition

IABC has created a dedicated section of its website to build a home for stories, memories and materials that captures a proud legacy in our history and celebrates the members who have proudly achieved the designation over the years. We will also undertake the following initiatives:

  • Continue showcase ABCs and continue to add to the spotlight over time
  • Place a letter to employers on both the ABC section of our website and IABC’s job board letting them know that an ABC is a proven professional who has demonstrated his or her experience, expertise and abilities to meet a global standard. We believe that hiring ABCs assures hiring managers that they have selected communication professionals who know the business, have broad depth of experience, have worked many years in the field and have met international standards
  • Use “ABC-preferred” for our own communication positions and encourage hiring employers to do the same
  • Continue to recognize outstanding ABCs through the Rae Hamlin award, given annually at World Conference
  • Through the Council of Regions and Leader Letter, encourage our chapters and regions to recognize ABCs at meetings and events

Expanded involvement and contributions

IABC will:

  • Support a formal mentorship program offered by ABCs
  • Offer invitations to serve in leadership and influencer roles within IABC
  • Encourage ABC involvement to help build awareness and support for the new certification program
  • Actively seek ABCs to participate in Gold Quill Blue Ribbon panels and apply for key leadership positions within the association

Integrated professional development opportunities

IABC will:

  • Offer continuous professional development, including business leader programs, programs with partnering post-secondary institutions, and opportunities to contribute to published material.
  • Align ABC professional development needs with IABC’s new business leader career path and the IABC Academy.

Broadened networking opportunities

IABC will:

  • Host ABC receptions annually at World Conference
  • Identify potential social responsibility causes for ABCs, and consult to determine what causes make the most sense and are aligned with IABC Foundation activities including student initiatives and IABC Academy programs.

For ABCs

Being an Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) is a mark of professional and personal achievement for today’s communicators.

Letter to Potential Employers


As you consider selecting a communication professional to serve your organisation, you should know why choosing a candidate with an ABC (Accredited Business Communicator) designation makes all the difference.

The ABC is bestowed by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). It serves as a mark of excellence—and one that is not easy to achieve. Worldwide there are only just over 1,000 ABCs, out of many thousands of candidates, who were able to successfully complete the rigorous evaluation process.

Based on a Global Standard of Excellence and the IABC Code of Ethics, the ABC process evidences the submission of two outstanding portfolios (work plans and samples) graded according to IABC’s seven-point scale of excellence, as well as a comprehensive exam, strictly proctored and thoroughly evaluated by world-class communication professionals.

Process aside, the reason an ABC rises above all other candidates is because of their proven knowledge of strategic communication and the unparalleled value they can offer to an organisation.

The ABC candidate you are considering has a deep understanding of the communication profession and instinctively knows what it means to do outstanding work. They have the know-how to use strategic communication to lift an organization to a new level of success.

Choosing an ABC means that you are selecting someone at the top of their game. Most important, it means that you have an opportunity to apply their superior knowledge and expertise where you need it most.

Quite simply, when you select an ABC, you are choosing from among the very best. That’s what makes the difference.

Sincere regards,

Russell Grossman, ABC
2014-15 IABC Chair

Keeping Your ABC Status

Successful candidates retain their accreditation as long as they’re current IABC members. If you become unemployed and can’t maintain IABC membership, you may keep using the designation “ABC” or “IABC Accredited” while seeking employment. You won’t be listed as an active accredited member by IABC world headquarters but can tell prospective employers that you were accredited.

Your accreditation certificate may be used as proof of accreditation. If IABC membership is renewed within two years, you’ll automatically be returned to the active accredited member file.

Replacing ABC Certificates & Pins

Please contact the Recognition Department at IABC World Headquarters.