Becoming a Subject Matter Expert (SME)

Why should I become an SME?
There are lots of reasons to become an SME for NICET. Here are just a few:

  • Network with your colleagues.
  • Earn Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points.
  • Influence and contribute to the layout and content of NICET certification programs.
  • Become closely affiliated with widely recognized and respected emblem of excellence within the engineering technology community.
  • Receive recognition from peers and other industry professionals.
  • Increase your knowledge about certifications, specifically what goes into making the exams.
  • Gain additional industry knowledge.

What are the requirements for becoming an SME?
To become an SME, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Significant experience in the certification practice area.
  • Extensive and current knowledge of the certification practice area.
  • The support of your employer to attend in-person workshops (usually two to three days in length) and follow-up online sessions (usually two to three hours in length).

Additionally, other eligibility requirements may apply based on program needs, because each certification program is unique.

How do I become an SME?
Typically, there are two ways to apply:

  • Submit your name, your NICET Certification number, the program for which you want to volunteer, and your preferred contact information to tech@nicet.org.
  • Fill out a program-specific recruitment survey, made available on our website (www.nicet.org), our Facebook page, and various discussion boards on LinkedIn.

You will be contacted by NICET's development staff if your application is approved and you are chosen to participate in a session.

How long does the application and review process for becoming an SME take?
Once recruiting for a specific program begins and a completed application is received, the review will take up to two weeks. Please note: If NICET is not recruiting specifically for your program at the time of your application, NICET will confirm receipt of your application, but NICET may not review your application until recruitment for that program officially begins.

Do I have to sign the Confidentiality Agreement?
Yes. All SMEs are required to sign a confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement. This document protects the integrity of NICET's certification exam and the certification program as a whole. In summary, the agreement states that volunteers will not disclose any exam content to anyone, unless authorized by NICET.

Will I be able to conduct training for colleagues and other industry members while I am an SME?
SMEs must agree not to be directly involved in the preparation and/or delivery/distribution of any educational offering or instructional materials relating to the NICET certification program for a period of at least two years after designing, creating, editing, reviewing, and/or approving content for an exam. In many cases, SME involvement with training courses and materials could lead to "teaching to the test," which is viewed as a conflict with the Confidentiality Agreement.

NICET does not wish to discourage individuals who may be mentoring others in the industry from volunteering. However, to ensure the security of its exams, NICET must confirm that SME applicants' training activities do not create a conflict of interest with participation in test development activities.

If you are unsure about whether your training/mentorship activities pose a conflict of interest, simply contact NICET at tech@nicet.org.

Will I have to promise to never take a test or apply for a certification?
No. NICET does not ask volunteers to abstain from taking the exam permanently. In some cases, when NICET is updating a test, recruiting is limited to those individuals who already hold the certification at that Level. However, in many other cases, recruitment is not limited in that way. Other subject matter experts (SMEs) could be invited to participate if their experience exceeds the work history requirement for the certification Level. In those cases, the volunteers may be required to abstain from taking the exam for a period of time. The waiting period will vary based on the certification and the circumstances.

How much will it cost me?
In some cases, NICET may be able to reimburse SMEs for travel expenses (e.g., airfare and hotel expenses) related to attending in-person meetings. Additionally, for those individuals who are not in a position to travel, NICET hosts web-based/online development sessions. However, NICET prefers that all SMEs attend at least one in-person workshop before partaking in virtual sessions.

What's a typical day?
There are two commonly used volunteer activity structures: in-person workshops and virtual meetings.

  • In-person workshops are usually held at the NICET offices in Alexandria, VA.
    • These workshops will last 2 to 3 days, and run 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
    • Detailed training is provided on the first morning of the workshop. (It's important to arrive promptly.)
    • Dress is business casual.
    • NICET provides lunch for the SMEs and usually provides dinner on the first night of the workshop.
  • Virtual meetings are typically 2 to 3 hours in length.
    • Depending on the nature of the work for the virtual meeting, there may be as few as two meetings and as many as ten or more.
    • These meetings will usually take place within a one- to three-month time frame.
    • Please note: For training and security purposes, NICET prefers that all volunteers attend at least one in-person workshop before participating in virtual meetings.

The NICET Development staff does its best to schedule all in-person workshops and virtual meetings at times that are most convenient for the volunteers.

Where are the meetings held?
Typically, in-person workshops are held at the NICET offices in Alexandria, VA.
Meanwhile, SMEs can attend virtual meetings from the comfort of their own homes or offices. Please note: NICET asks that all SMEs use discretion and ensure that their location is private.

How can my company get more involved?
NICET encourages companies to support volunteer SMEs by providing the time off from work to attend in-person workshops and virtual meetings, assisting with the travel costs associated with in-person workshops, etc. In some cases, companies have hosted NICET test development workshops, arranging for meeting spaces, Internet connectivity, meals, and discounted hotel rates for traveling SMEs. While NICET greatly appreciates organizations that support our volunteer SMEs, we cannot provide specific financial incentives to those companies as it risks a conflict of interest.

What kind of volunteer opportunities exist? What will I be signing up for?
Volunteer activities vary according to two important factors: (1) the volunteer group which you serve, and (2) the program's stage in the development or maintenance cycle. Here are just a few samples of volunteer activities:

  • Practice analysis development: SMEs analyze the practice area's job tasks to identify content to be covered by the exam.
  • Assessment Design: SMEs lay out the test content and determine the program's experience criteria.
  • Item development: SMEs write test questions and develop any related photos/illustrations and other graphics.
  • Item review: SMEs review and approve exam content.


If none of these FAQs answered your question, please e-mail NICET or search again. Questions related to your personal progress toward meeting a certification requirement must be directed to NICET by telephone. Please call 888-476-4238 or 703-548-1518.

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