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When you achieve certification as an AICI Certified Image Master (CIM) you demonstrate to clients, colleagues, corporations, retailers, manufacturers, the public, and the media that you have achieved the highest level of certification in the industry. Earning your CIM indicates that you are an exceptional, dedicated consultant, have a recognized brand in the industry, and own a successful image business. This certification will give you a competitive edge in the industry and also the potential for greater earnings.

This list of Frequently-Asked Questions will help AICI Certified Image Professionals (AICI CIP) and other ambitious members to become more familiar with the Certified Image Master application process.

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  1. As a current CIP, when am I eligible to apply for my CIM?

    You are required to be a Certified Image Professional (AICI CIP) for a minimum of 5 years before you are eligible to file your CIM application.

  2. How do I apply?

    Complete a CIM Application form and submit this application and payment of $935.00 USD, if you are a member and $1,500 USD, if you are a non-member, to AICI Headquarters.

  3. What is a CIM Mentor and why do I need one?

    You must identify a CIM Mentor to assist you, as you prepare your CIM portfolio. A CIM Mentor is an AICI member who has earned her CIM. This individual will provide support throughout the application process by answering your questions, discussing options and sharing experiences. Decisions about the portfolio are made by the candidate, not by the CIM Mentor. Your CIM Mentor will view the portfolio in its entirety prior to it being submitted to HQ.

  4. How long do I have to submit my portfolio and all associated documentation, once I have sent my application form, mentor form, and payment to AICI?

    Your complete portfolio must be received by the AICI CIM External Reviewers within 365 days from the date AICI receives your application payment. Determine if you can fulfill all requirements for each section of the application before sending your application and payment to AICI, as no extensions will be granted beyond the 365-day candidacy period.

  5. Is there a specific deadline to submit my completed portfolio and all documentation, if I wish to be acknowledged at AICI’s conference?

    For acknowledgement at an AICI Conference, AICI Headquarters must receive your portfolio no later than January 31st of your candidacy year, and year of conference, so that it can be passed on to the CIM External Reviewers. This review process can take several months.

  6. What are the critical steps I need to take to be successful with my application?

    • Secure a Mentor who will help guide you through the process
    • Download a copy of the CIM application from the AICI website and read it carefully. The application is updated periodically. Confirm that you are using the most current version of the application.
    • Be in good standing with AICI and the Ethics Committee, which means your dues are up to date, your CIP certification is current, and any ethical/professional issues have been cleared.
    • Be sure all material relating to education, leadership and participation, billable hours, company branding, and consulting materials are current and meet the requirement of being within the five years immediately preceding your application date. Organize documents for each section of your application. Make sure you have complied with each section requirement. If not, determine which section/s needs your immediate attention.
    • Copy all documents that will be submitted to AICI. Keep your originals, in the event your portfolio is lost or damaged when it is mailed or sent electronically.
    • Identify early in the process who you wish to provide evaluations on your behalf and make formal requests of them per suggestions in the application. Invite people to evaluate, beyond the number required, to be sure that you have sufficient evaluations by the time you submit your portfolio.
    • Write a compelling 500-word essay: “Why I should be a Certified Image Master”.
    • Send your portfolio to AICI Headquarters a minimum of 60 days (90 days is recommended) prior to your final deadline date. This will allow time in the event you may need to make revisions to your portfolio before the final deadline.
    • If your portfolio passes the review process, be prepared to participate in a face-to-face interview before a CIM Panel, at the AICI Conference, or other venue, when it can be arranged.

  7. In reference to Section 1 of the application (Leadership and Participation), if I served on the International board or chaired an International committee more than five years ago, does it count?

    No.Tthe CIM application requires that candidates must be able to demonstrate that they have been an influential leader in AICI, the image industry, or their communities within the five years immediately preceding the application.

  8. In reference to Section 2 Professional/Personal Development and Education, I don’t think I have quite enough hours to fulfill the education requirements. Is it OK for me to send in my CIM Application to AICI HQ and take enough classes in the year before my portfolio is due to earn the class hours I need?

    Classes that are attended after your application is submitted to AICI HQ do not count. You should not submit your application, until you know that you have met all the requirements.

  9. In reference to Section 4 (Business Record) must I use the supplied work record forms or may I use my own? Without showing my financials, how do I demonstrate the 2000 hours?

    You may use the business work record forms that AICI has provided in Section 4 of the application, or you may use your own forms or spreadsheets, as long as they include a list of your client names, addresses, phone numbers and the date and number of hours of work for which you were billed.

    For corporate clients, you must include the name, address and phone number of the company, the contact person who hired you, the date and topic of the presentation/s. For multiple presentations or assignments with the same client, please indicate all dates you worked with that client.

    If your country has instigated privacy laws and you are not at liberty to publish names and numbers in your application, you will have to obtain their permission first or the permission of someone in the company.

  10. In reference to Section 5 (Proof of Fees) do I have to submit proof of every fee earned for every product and service for which I bill?

    No, you don’t have to provide AICI with evidence of every fee earned. AICI wants to see a sampling of fees earned for each category of service you offer. For example, for individual consultations, corporate consultations, speaking engagements, seminars, and product sales.

    You can show evidence of  your fees by submitting photocopies of: canceled checks, check stubs from organizations, bank deposit slips, official financial documents, official receipts, etc.

  11. In Section 3 (Professional Service Evaluations) what are some examples of strategic alliance partners that I can use to fulfill the requirement?

    Examples are: individuals who work with you on alterations, hair, makeup, retail sales. They could be a co-trainer or coach that you use or consult with on behalf of your clients.

  12. Who reviews and approves or denies my application?

    AICI hires External Reviewers who have the high level expertise and education required to evaluate CIM portfolios. For example, AICI Reviewers may be master-level coaches, communication and branding specialists, with entrepreneurial success or high-level corporate experience. A minimum of two reviewers will work on each application. If needed, a third reviewer can provide assistance.

    Your written information must clearly indicate to these high-level reviewers the reason why you should earn your CIM. These External Reviewers evaluate whether your submission is of master-level caliber.

  13. How long does it take to know if my application has been approved once submitted?

    It usually takes 60-90 days, depending on the workload of the External Reviewers.

  14. 14. If my portfolio is approved by the External Reviewers, when can I use AICI CIM after my name? When will AICI CIM be added to my name on the website?

    If your CIM portfolio reaches a pass score, you are then required to give a presentation and have an in-person interview, which you must also pass to be successful. You will be notified immediately after your presentation and interview about whether you have earned your CIM. As soon as you receive word of your success, you will be able to use the designation AICI CIM after your name, it will be added to your listing in the Membership Directory on AICI’s website.

  15. What happens if I miss the one-year deadline to submit my AICI CIM Application Portfolio?

    If you fail to submit your full application by your deadline, (365 days from the date AICI received your CIM application payment), your application will be denied. You will be required to re-submit your entire application and the fee, should you wish to reapply for CIM at a later date. Remember, you have one year from the date your fees are received by AICI Headquarters to complete the requirements of the application

  16. What happens if my CIM Application is rejected?

    As is the case of all certifications, an application does not guarantee success. When a candidate has not met the qualifications needed for acceptance, a letter will be sent to the candidate with an explanation of why the application did not meet the standard required. The candidate may reapply with a new application and fee, whenever the candidate is ready to re-submit a portfolio.

  17. What happens if I do not renew my AICI CIM certification?

    You will no longer be an AICI CIM. You will be listed in the AICI Membership Directory under non-certified members. You will no longer be able to use the designation AICI CIM, or any other AICI certification designation in any of your marketing materials, on your website, or in any correspondence.

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