Requirements for Certification

General Information for Professional Certification Applicants

To receive the right to use the designation “P.Phys.” or “phys.” from the CAP, the applicant must:

The right to use the designation “P.Phys” or “phys.” will be granted by way of licence from the CAP, which owns the designation. Individuals who do not receive the right from CAP will not be able to use the designation, and the CAP has the right to pursue legal action for its unauthorized use. Successful applicants will receive a Certificate suitable for framing.


Proof of honours bachelor or higher degree in physics or a closely-related discipline must be provided. (A certified transcript or similar document forwarded directly to the CAP by the university’s Registrar is preferred.) If you do not possess such a degree, your background education will be reviewed by the CAP’s Professional Certification Committee (PCC).


You must have completed, or be about to complete, three years of recent physics-related work experience after graduation. Work experience will be considered physics-related if it uses physics directly or significantly utilizes the modes of thought (such as the approach to problem-solving) developed in your education and/or experience as a physicist, in all cases regardless of whether the experience is in academia, industry, government, or elsewhere. Management of physics related work qualifies, and so does appropriate graduate student work. The PCC will evaluate your physics-related experience based on the following criteria:

  • competent application of physics principles and/or modes of thought;
  • practical experience;
  • management skills, where applicable;
  • communication and interpersonal skills ;
  • understanding of the social implications of physics.


You must provide the names of two people who are in a position to confirm that you have the experience necessary to qualify, and who have agreed to provide written reports summarizing your skills and experience directly to CAP. These reports must address technical competence, written and verbal communication skills, ability to apply physics principles or modes of thought, management skills (where applicable), and interpersonal skills. One referee must be your current supervisor(s), unless sound reasons are provided as to why this is not appropriate. If you do not have a supervisor (for example, you are self-employed or retired), please contact the CAP’s Executive Director to make alternative arrangements. For applicants from outside Canada, one referee should normally be a Canadian physicist of international stature.

Experience Résumé

A résumé must accompany your initial Application for Certification. It must include the following information: dates (year/month) of employment, self-employment, education (specify whether full- or part-time); names of employers, universities etc. and their locations; a description of physics-related experience in each position; and dates when you were not employed, self-employed or enrolled in an educational program, and the reasons. When describing your experience,please explain how you applied physics principles or modes of thought. Also describe your practical experience, your project management experience, if any, and examples of how you applied your communications skills. For applicants from outside Canada, please include a note which details your collaborations with Canadian physicists, if any.

Professional Practice Examination

The Application for Certification will be reviewed by the CAP’s PCC. If the academic background and experience criteria have been met, or will shortly be met, the applicant must pass the Professional Practice Examination (PPE)*. The examination is given only once a year, normally during the third week of January, by the physics departments at Canadian universities. For applicants outside of designated examination sites, it may be possible to establish alternate locations provided the proposed arrangements are suitable to, and approved by, the Professional Certification Committee. Further details can be obtained from the CAP’s Executive Director.

*Notwithstanding the above, you can be exempted from the Professional Practice Examination if you have practiced physics for at least seven years and provide a detailed description of your professional accomplishments which clearly demonstrate that the PPE is not necessary. Two references, that address the specific criteria detailed on the form for Application for Exemption, are required. The CAP’s PCC will determine whether exemption is warranted.

Should you believe that you qualify for exemption, it is recommended that you submit the Application for Exemption and all supporting documentation with your original application for certification. You should also consider asking any references to submit a letter which addresses how you meet both the criteria for certification and for exemption. Failure to do so will result in delays in the processing of your application.


The applicant agrees that the CAP and its directors, officers, employees or agents shall not be liable for any hurt, loss, damages, expenses, or embarrassment caused or alleged to have been caused to the applicant or to any trustee, officer, director, employee, or agent of the applicant no matter how arising, including, but not limited to, any hurt, loss, damages, expenses or embarrassment arising by reason or in respect of: a) a ruling on this application made by the CAP’s Professional Certification Committee; b) a ruling by the CAP’s Applications’ Appeal Committee; c) any report submitted to the Professional Certification Committee.


The licence to use the designation is valid for a period of five years, provided the licensee remains a member in good standing of the CAP and pays the annual certification fee (currently $20 plus GST/HST). After five years, the licence is renewable upon proof of continued physics-related experience. Failure to renew CAP membership or pay the annual certification fee will result in an automatic revocation of the licence. In addition, the licence may be revoked should the licensee be found guilty of professional misconduct or the like.

Full details of the professional designation process using the links on the left of the page. Questions may be directed to the CAP’s Executive Director.