How to Become a Certified Dementia Practitioner

Do you work with patients or clients who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? Then the Certified Dementia Practitioner ® is a certification you should consider obtaining! This blog post will cover the details you need to know to become a Certified Dementia Practitioner ®.

What is a Certified Dementia Practitioner?

The Certified Dementia Practitioner ® (CDP®) represents those health care and front line staff who have an in-depth knowledge in dementia care. They have received specific training, met certain requirements, and applied for certification through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners (NCCDP).

The CDP® is not a license or a requirement to work with those with dementia. Rather it is a certification for those who want to go above and beyond in the care they provide. This credential reflects a commitment to the field by the individual and organizations who support it.

Certified Dementia Practitioner

Who is Eligible to Become a Certified Dementia Practitioner?

What’s unique about this certification is that it’s open to so many different professions! Of note, this certification is specifically for practitioners who live in the United States. If you live outside the United States, check out to the International Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners!

CDP® certification is open to all eligible health care and front-line staff including:

  • Administrators
  • Assistant Administrators
  • Dementia Unit Managers
  • Nurses
  • Nursing Assistants
  • Home Health Aides
  • Personal Care Assistants
  • Activity Professionals
  • Therapeutic Recreation
  • Social Workers
  • Dietitians
  • Physical Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Speech Therapists
  • Physicians
  • Alzheimer’s coach
  • Dementia Consultants
  • Dementia Trainers
  • Alzheimer’s Coaches
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Educators
  • Professional Patient Advocates
  • Geriatric Care Managers
  • Certified Senior Advisors
  • Administrators
  • Health Care Educators
  • Nurse Educators
  • Consultants
  • Music Therapists
  • Art Therapists
  • Chiropractors
  • Pharmacists
  • Pharmacy Consultants
  • Etc.

These individuals typically work in the following areas:

  • hospitals
  • nursing homes
  • assisted living
  • home care agencies
  • hospice agencies
  • Life Plan Communities
  • Independent Living Communities
  • adult day care
  • senior centers
  • senior living communities
  • associations
  • management companies
  • government agencies
  • Etc.

There is a list of professions that the CDP® is NOT for. These professions can definitely complete the trainings offered through NCCDP, but they cannot receive certification.

Professions NOT eligible include: Bus Drivers, Security Guards, Maintenance Workers, House Keepers, Laundry Workers, Bed Makers, Unit Ward Clerks, Business Office Staff, Human Resources Staff, Schedulers, Receptionist, Secretaries, Administrative Assistants, Dietary Aides, Kitchen Staff, Transporters, Medical Records Staff, Central Supply Staff and others.

caregiver and CDP

How do I Become a Certified Dementia Practitioner?

In addition to being one of the eligible professionals listed above, there are requirements you must meet in order to become a CDP®. If you noticed, this credential covers a wide variety of professions. As such, there are four different tracks for individuals pursuing certification.

Regardless of your track you will need to:

  • Have at least 1 year of experience in a geriatric health care related field
  • Complete a 7-hour seminar through NCCDP (you do this BEFORE you apply!)
  • Complete your application
  • Commit to adhering to the Code of Ethics
  • Pay the associated fees

Here is a brief breakdown of the tracks- they basically vary by your profession and the work you do.

  • 1 Track: Nurses or Health Care Professionals
  • 2 Track: Those with a GED or High School Diploma
  • 3 Track: Those with a Graduate Degree
  • 4 Track: Those with No Licenses or Certifications

The application goes into great detail on what the tracks include. Be sure to review it to make sure you qualify!


How Much Does the CDP® Cost?

If you are pursuing the CDP® on your own expect to pay around $230 for initial certification. Be aware that if you attend a training further away you will be incurring additional costs for travel (i.e. gas, food, maybe even hotel).

Here is the cost breakdown

  • CDP® application (for initial & renewal): $135
  • Required Seminar training (initial only): $195

Note: There is a corporate discount rate for group CDP® applications! Get your whole facility on-board. Not only are you getting the certification to show you and your facility truly care, you’ll save some money in the process!


How Long Does the CDP® Last?

This certification is good for two years. If you want to be re-certified you need to complete 10 hours of continuing education and simply reapply. The CDP® renewal paperwork is found online and costs the same as the initial application. Note- you do NOT have to complete the training again.


When and Where do I take This Seminar?

The seminars are offered all over the United States! You can check out their up to date calendar of seminars presented by NCCDP and their approved instructors here. Make sure you are looking at the “Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care” seminar date/times.

If you can’t find a seminar near you, don’t worry! You still have options to become a CDP®. According to the NCCDP website if you live more than 2 hours away from a live seminar, you can qualify to take the seminar online. Or better yet, contact NCCDP about bringing a seminar to your facility!


What Does the Seminar Cover?

The Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care Seminar is required for anyone looking to obtain the CDP®. The seminar lasts at least 7 hours and may be longer to include a lunch period.

Per the NCCDP website, the modules covered in the seminar include:

  • Over view of Dementia / Alzheimer’s Disease: Diagnosis, Prognosis and Treatment
  • Tests and Evaluations used for Dementia
  • Communication
  • Feelings and Repetitive Behaviors
  • Wandering, Hoarding and Paranoia and Hallucinations
  • Sundowning
  • Intimacy, Sexuality, Aggressive Behaviors and Catastrophic Behaviors
  • Depression and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Personal Care; Pain, Nutrition, Bathing, Dressing, Toileting, Eating, Swallowing and Sleep Disturbances
  • Activities & Alzheimer’s Disease Calendars
  • Environment: Changes that make a difference
  • Staff and Family Relationships
  • Stress and the Caregiver
  • Multicultural Considerations
  • Pastoral Care and Preparing for End of Life

After your seminar be sure to hold onto your certificate of attendance! You’ll be submitting this with your application.


Is There a Test?

Dementia RibbonNo and maybe kind of… let me explain. The CDP® is a certification and not a credential (which is typically associated with a huge exam you have to pass). For this certification, you have to meet the qualifications of the application and then complete the 7-hour seminar.

While an exam is not required, some seminar instructors may choose to give an exam to make sure you understood the course. Nothing scary though! You just show up and take the seminar then think of the exam as a “knowledge check” (if one is even included).

Note that you will complete an evaluation after the seminar, but this piece isn’t an exam.


Other certifications offered through NCCDP

But wait, there’s more! I wanted to make sure that you were aware of these certifications. NCCDP offers several other certifications, more specific to the individual profession:


OK! That was a lot of information and I hope that you now understand how to become a Certified Dementia Practitioner ®. Let’s re-cap!

Thank you caregivers

Steps to become a CDP®:

  • Be in a qualifying profession
  • Have at least 1 year of experience
  • Complete an approved seminar
  • Compete an application
  • Pay the fees

Best of luck as you pursue this important certification. Thank you for the service you provide to a very special population that deserves the very best care we can offer. If you are considering this certification and have read this far- it shows how much you care. Thank you.

And if you want to learn more about food and nutrition for those with dementia, check out my blog post Nutrition Care: A Design for Dementia.


NOTE: I am in no way associated with NCCDP. I just think this is a cool certification and want to make it easy for you to take the leap in getting certified. Please refer to NCCDP website for the most current information. You can contact NCCDP at (877) 729-5191 or email using the Contact Form.



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