FAQs

FAQs

FAQs

New Applicants


May I complete on-line Therapeutic Recreation coursework or enroll in a Therapeutic Recreation certificate program?

Yes, you may qualify to sit for the NCTRC exam by completing on-line coursework. If a degree program is in another area of study (not in Therapeutic Recreation/Recreation) you may use the Equivalency Path A or Equivalency Path B application process ONLY. The equivalency path process requires paid professional work experience (not an internship). Please note that an academic internship completed via a certificate program will not be accepted when the Equivalency Path option is selected.

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Can NCTRC review my coursework before I apply for Professional Eligibility?

Yes, the Pre-Application Coursework Review process may be used to determine whether or not you meet current certification coursework requirements before submitting a formal application. Please create a profile via the MY NCTRC LOGIN link on the NCTRC website home page and select Pre-Coursework Review (OPTIONAL PROCESS) under the 'Application to Become a CTRS' section. You will receive an email notification identifying completion of the review process. You may then access the coursework review results by logging into your dashboard profile page and clicking on the application details.

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May courses completed from programs such as Massage Therapy (certificate programs), be utilized toward required support coursework?

All coursework must be assigned college credit from an accredited College or University and must appear on an official College or University transcript. The Pre-Application Coursework Review process may be used to determine whether previously completed coursework will qualify.

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For professional work experience may I submit the employment verification form with my application in order to expedite the process?

The completed and signed Employment Information Release and Authorization form may be uploaded to the Professional Eligibility online application under the 'Paid Work Experience' section with the signature of the human resource designee.

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What is the cost to take the NCTRC Exam as a new applicant?

The exam registration process may be completed once your Professional Eligibility application review is complete and you have been granted Exam Qualified status (you will receive an email regarding your status). The exam fee is $325.

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How long will it take to find out if I am approved to take the NCTRC exam?

You will receive notification by email of your application review decision approximately 4-6 weeks after your application is received by NCTRC.

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Do I need to send transcripts from every college I attended, even if the credits were transferred into the college I graduated from?

Yes, transcripts from all colleges/universities must be included. The only guarantee that all your coursework will be reviewed is to make sure every transcript is submitted with your application.

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How should the official transcripts be sent to NCTRC?

Transcripts must arrive within 2 weeks of application submission. Each transcript must include registrar signature and seal to be considered official. Transcripts may be delivered electronically directly from the university registrar to nctrc@nctrc.org or the official hard copy may be mailed to the NCTRC mailing address. Transcripts from all colleges/universities must be submitted for coursework and/or degree review.

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Can I apply while awaiting degree confirmation or with my internship in progress?

Yes, you may apply for professional eligibility review after completion of the following conditions:

  1. Enrollment in a degree program pertaining to Therapeutic Recreation/Recreation Therapy as defined by the current NCTRC standards.
  2. Completion of a minimum of 90 credit hours toward degree attainment.
  3. Completion of all required coursework other than the internship requirement, as defined by the current NCTRC standards.
  4. Submission of an official academic transcript denoting the completion of the above requirements.
Applicants completing the above option of the Academic Path application process will be awarded NCTRC certification and the CTRS certificate upon demonstration of the following:
  1. Successful completion of the NCTRC exam.
  2. Completion of an internship experience in accordance with NCTRC Standards.
  3. Academic degree attainment as documented by an official academic transcript.

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For the academic path, what requirements do I need to complete for an acceptable internship?

You will need to complete a minimum 560-hour, fourteen (14) consecutive week internship in therapeutic recreation services that uses the therapeutic recreation process as defined by the current NCTRC Job Analysis and under the supervision of both academic and agency internship supervisors who are NCTRC CTRS certified. Make sure you complete at least 20 hours per week and no more than 45 hours per week. The primary CTRS Supervisor must be employed at least 30 hours a week at the agency with at least 50% of the job duties in TR services. The CTRS Supervisor must be certified for a minimum of one year prior to supervising an internship student. Please review and verify 'Initial Certification Date' and 'Annual Expiration Date' of prospective agency supervisor prior to start of internship.

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How does one become certified as a CTRS?

To be awarded the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential, the candidate must meet the eligibility requirements and pass a knowledge-based exam. When the candidate is awarded the CTRS credential, it serves as evidence that the individual, through knowledge and experience, has met NCTRC’s CTRS Certification Standards. The award of the CTRS credential is a limited license to use the titles of “Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist®” and “CTRS®” subject to NCTRC’s Certification Standards. Candidates are eligible to register for the NCTRC certification exam if they are in compliance with NCTRC’s Certification Standards and they have been found by NCTRC to meet all professional eligibility requirements through either the academic or equivalency path.

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How do I complete the Professional Eligibility Application?

Please create a username and password via the MY NCTRC LOGIN link on the NCTRC website home page. Once your profile is created you may access the Professional Eligibility Application (New Applicants ONLY) under the 'Applications to Become a CTRS' portion of the dashboard profile. The application review fee is $100 if ALL certification requirements including degree are complete. If your degree has not been awarded on the date of your application please select the Academic Prior to Degree Path, review fee $125. The review fee is non-refundable.

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Will I be notified if there is information that is missing from my application?

You will receive notification via email regarding your application status. You will be placed in 'Need More Information' allowing the opportunity to add information to your application. Please be sure to review the Application Comments section of your application to determine information requested.

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I have passed the exam and have now completed my internship and degree. What is the next step?

If you applied under the Academic Path Degree Path you must return to your Professional Eligibility Application and enter your internship and degree information. NCTRC will require an official final transcript from the registrar with internship credit and degree posted.

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The Exam


If I take and pass the NCTRC exam and become certified, may I begin to earn continuing education credit toward Recertification?

Yes. You may begin to earn continuing education hours for your 5 year certification cycle once you have successfully completed the exam for certification and become certified. Please note that it is important to be sure that you have submitted all required documents if your application path was prior to degree being awarded. You will not be granted CTRS status until all required documents are received and reviewed.

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How can I prepare to take the NCTRC exam?

Go to Exam Preparation Tools for exam content resources and study aids on computer based testing. Review the NCTRC Standards information on the Exam, including the Exam Content Outline. The list of exam references is helpful for further information.

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What is the NCTRC exam fee and where can I find the application?

The current fee is $325.00. You may access the Exam Registration Form by logging into your dashboard profile page via MY NCTRC LOGIN and selecting the appropriate Exam link.

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When can I register to take the exam for Recertification?

You may register to take the last exam prior to your Recertification due date. If you do not pass the exam, your certification will become inactive. You will have a two year time period in which to take and pass the exam through the Reentry program.

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When do I need to apply to take the NCTRC exam?

There are deadlines for filing applications before each exam. Please check the scheduled exam windows for more information. Please note that the Professional Eligibility Submission window is the allotted time frame for application submission and review of your application. Once you are notified that you have gained Exam Qualified status you will be emailed instructions related to the exam registration process.

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When do I receive my exam score?

You will receive an unofficial pass or fail score notification at the test center. Official score reports will be emailed from Prometric.

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How do I select the test site for the exam?

Prometric is NCTRC’s partner for delivery of computer-based tests. Up-to-date Prometric Test Center locations are published on the website. You may take the NCTRC exam at any Prometric Testing Center provided there is space available. You will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) via email from NCTRC upon confirmation of your registration eligibility. When you receive your ATT, visit www.prometric.com/nctrc or call 1-888-999-3926 to make your appointment. It is the applicant’s responsibility to confirm their test site.

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What are the specific dates the NCTRC exam is given on?

Typically, the NCTRC exam is offered six times throughout the year utilizing a two-week testing window for each exam administration. Please visit Exam at the NCTRC Website for more information.

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How do I apply to take the NCTRC exam?

In order to register to take the NCTRC exam you must first be granted professional eligibility status, having met the NCTRC Certification Standards. You may also complete the exam for Recertification (only the exam that is scheduled prior to your expiration date) or for Reentry (within two years of Recertification expiration date).

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Can I take the exam prior to earning my degree?

If all required coursework is complete (as recorded on official transcript) and you are awaiting completion of internship and/or award of degree you may apply selecting Academic Path Prior to Degree. Internship information and final transcript will be requested once the exam has been completed. Applicants choosing Academic Path or Equivalency Paths must have ALL coursework requirements and degree complete upon submission of application. Please check with university registrar to be sure that the degree will be posted on the date the application is submitted.

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CTRS Annual Maintenance


What can I do if I believe my annual maintenance payment has not been received and/or processed?

If you have not received confirmation that your payment has been processed within a reasonable period of time, please contact NCTRC. Please confirm that you have completed the online application process including "checkout". You may wish to confirm with your bank or credit card to be sure the payment has posted. It is always advisable to make a copy of mailed application forms and save check or money order receipts for your records. It is important to contact NCTRC promptly so that we may insure that your renewal will be updated in a timely manner.

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What if I cannot locate the individual I am searching for on the Verification Page of the NCTRC website?

Please be sure to use either a last name OR certification ID number in your verification portal search (not both). Confirm the spelling and/or numbers entered in your search. NCTRC requires certificants to regularly update changes in their name and address, but occasionally, such changes are not reported to NCTRC. If name change has not been reported, the CTRS may not be found within the verification portal. Contact the NCTRC office, as our staff may have additional resources to identify a certificant. Additionally, our staff may request your assistance if we believe the individual you are searching may be using the “CTRS” or “Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist” designations in violation of NCTRC’s trademark rights. You should not assume that the individual is violating NCTRC’s trademarks or that the individual’s certification has been suspended, revoked, or sanctioned. NCTRC does not include information related to current or past disciplinary sanctioning on the verification page.

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If I don’t receive notification from NCTRC, am I still required to complete the CTRS annual maintenance process by my annual expiration date?

Yes, you are required to complete the annual maintenance renewal process each year of your five year certification cycle in order to keep your certification active. NCTRC will no longer be mailing application forms. You will receive an emailed annual maintenance reminder beginning at least eight weeks prior to your expiration date. For this reason it is of utmost importance to provide an updated or preferred email address to NCTRC.

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What is the difference between Annual Expiration Date and Recertification Due Date?

The Annual Expiration Date is the date by which a CTRS must submit the annual maintenance application and fee. This renewal process must be completed each year within the five-year CTRS Certification cycle. An active CTRS is eligible to:
• Use the designation “CTRS” and “Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist”
• Serve as a supervisor for a proposed internship requiring an active CTRS
The Recertification Due Date is the date by which a CTRS must submit the recertification application and fee. This renewal process must be completed every five years and in accordance to the NCTRC Recertification standards.

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What if I need a written verification?

If a written verification is required, please email the following information to NCTRC: Person you wish to verify by first and last name, the certification number, name of the individual requesting the verification, position of the individual requesting the verification, name of the agency, mailing address of the agency (street, city, state, zip code), telephone number with area code of the individual requesting the verification, whether or not you would like an email or fax verification, and reason for the verification. Please email this information directly to NCTRC at NCTRC@NCTRC.org.

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How do I complete the online Annual Maintenance Application and submit my renewal payment?

Please visit the NCTRC website, select MY NCTRC LOGIN and select Reset Password to access your existing account in the Login box. Provide the information requested on the following page within the required fields and submit. Please be sure that NCTRC has your current preferred email address. If your email address has changed, please email NCTRC so that we can update your record. Once you have been emailed a new user name and password (a case sensitive letter and number combination), you may login to your dashboard profile page. Begin the process by updating your Profile information. Then proceed to the Annual Maintenance Renewal under 'Applications for the CTRS' to submit the renewal fee. The Annual Maintenance Renewal link will become available about 3 months prior to your annual expiration date.

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What is the current annual maintenance renewal fee?

The current annual maintenance renewal fee is $80. If the renewal fee is past due there will be a reinstatement fee of $25 added to your payment.

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I have submitted my online Annual Maintenance Application. Why haven’t I received my updated credentials in the mail?

To respond to certificants’ requests for immediate access to an updated certificate, NCTRC adopted a new business process that allows certificants to print their own certificate directly from the MY NCTRC LOGIN portal. Please go to the Dashboard Profile and print your updated certificate by selecting CTRS Certificate. The NCTRC office will mail certificates upon initial certification, recertification every 5 years, and upon request. Cards will no longer be issued based on reported lack of use by certificants.

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What should I do if my annual maintenance application is now past due?

If your annual maintenance application is past due, you may follow the instructions to complete the Annual Maintenance Application. You will be assessed a $25 reinstatement fee as well as the annual renewal payment (s) of $80. You may wish to contact the NCTRC office if you have questions regarding annual expiration date and recertification due date, including fees that are due.

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Recertification / Reentry


How can I regain my certification if I am not working for a few years and my certification expires?

NCTRC's Reentry Program is designed for individuals whose certification recently expired. Individuals may register to take the NCTRC CTRS certification examination, without needing to meet the current educational and experiential requirements for initial certification. Reentry certification eligibility is for candidates who were CTRS certified within two years prior to their application for reentry; and who apply for reentry eligibility to take a CTRS certification examination that is scheduled to be administered within the two years immediately following expiration of their CTRS certification.

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What option do I have if I do not have enough continuing education and work experience before the end of my five year certification cycle?

CTRSs can register and take the last scheduled exam prior to their recertification expiration date to meet recertification requirements.

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May I complete ALL of my continuing education hours through online, correspondence or teleconference methods?

Yes, NCTRC will accept continuing education that is provided in alternative methods as long as the education meets the Recertification Requirements as outlined in the NCTRC Standards.

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Which continuing education sessions will NOT be accepted toward recertification?

Certain continuing education will not be accepted toward NCTRC Recertification. This includes CPR, First Aid, Infectious Disease Control, Life Saving, and Activity or other Skill courses. Activity courses refers to a program which is primarily teaching you how to perform a certain activity (Examples include Gardening workshop, Adapted waterskiing, Arts & Crafts, and computer software classes). Such courses are not considered related to the Job Analysis Knowledge Areas and are not reflective of continued professional competence unique to therapeutic recreation. The final option for being assured that your continuing education credit will count toward NCTRC Recertification is to submit the application early. NCTRC accepts Recertification applications up to 12 months prior to the end of your five year cycle. If you submit even 6 months early, you will be notified if you have not met the requirements, and you can then earn additional continuing education credit and submit a second application before your certification expires.

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How do I know if the continuing education that I have completed is going to be accepted by NCTRC?

NCTRC offers an approval process for pending or completed continuing education hours prior to the submission of a formal recertification application. NCTRC’s Continuing Education Approval Process allows certificants to submit continuing education prior to recertification to determine whether it meets current recertification requirements. This process will allow for early confirmation of continuing education to individuals who are not certain if previously completed education will count towards NCTRC Recertification requirements. This application may be found on your dashboard profile page under Application for the CTRS; Continuing Education Approval Process (OPTIONAL PROCESS) The standards require that a CTRS upload an official document (not a copy) documenting continuing education credit which indicates your name, attendance date (which must be within your 5 year cycle), title of the course or program and contact hours (it does not have to awarded in CEU credit). If the CTRS is unable to obtain such a document, then the sponsor or instructor of the program must provide a written statement including all the necessary information mentioned above, on agency letterhead. The title of the course or program, as listed on the official document, is critical to whether it can be utilized toward NCTRC Recertification. The title must relate to one of the Job Analysis Knowledge Area Items. In order to match the title with the Items, the title must be clear and reflective of the program. If it is not, you will need to obtain and submit the program brochure with descriptive information. You will need to review the Job Analysis Knowledge Areas in its entirety. You can access the Knowledge Areas on our website or by contacting our office. An example of matching the information would be if you attended a workshop titled “Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease and its symptoms.” This topic can be applied under The Job Analysis Knowledge Area, Foundational Knowledge (FKW), where Item #13 “Cognitive/developmental disorders and related impairments (e.g., dementia, …) shows a match.

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Do I need to work full-time in TR to meet the recertification requirements?

Full-time work experience in TR is not necessary to complete the recertification requirements. Along with the 50 hours of continuing education, a CTRS must have 480 hours of TR work experience to meet recertification requirements. There is not a specific hour requirement each year.

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I have received a reminder for the NCTRC exam. Does this mean I am required to take it?

NCTRC sends reminders as a courtesy. Please disregard the reminder if you do not plan to complete the exam for recertification.

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Does NCTRC track my continuing education hours?

NCTRC does not track continuing education hours, including CEU’s awarded at professional conferences or workshops. A certificate or transcript must be acquired and maintained by the certificant for future submission if selected for the audit process on the Recertification due date. Certificants may upload and save records of continuing education to the Recertification - Education and Experience application available on the dashboard profile at MY NCTRC LOGIN.

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How many continuing education hours are required for recertification?

NCTRC requires completion of 50 hours of continuing education completed within the five year certification cycle (continuing education does not have to be awarded in CEU credit).

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When it is time for me to recertify, what do I need to submit?

The recertification application must be submitted by the recertification due date. NCTRC will notify certificants that are due for recertification via email approximately 60 days before the end of the five-year certification cycle (please be sure that NCTRC has an up-to-date email address). Please access your "My Dashboard Profile" at MY NCTRC LOGIN and select the Recertification - Education and Work Experience application under Applications for the CTRS. Recertification applications may be submitted no earlier than 12 months prior to the certification expiration date. Certificants may upload and save records of continuing education to their Recertification - Education and Work Experience application.

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Why have I been selected for the audit process?

Upon submission of the recertification application a random percentage of applications will be selected for audit. Certificants who are selected for audit will be directly notified by NCTRC via email. Certificants will have 15 days to submit or upload their continuing education materials for the audit process. Failure to submit the continuing education materials in a timely manner will result in a denial of recertification. If you are not selected for audit, you will not need to submit your continuing education documents.  

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Standards Changes


Have there been any recent Standards changes or updates that affect the credentialing process?

The NCTRC Standards are continuously reviewed and updated to facilitate the credentialing process and to remain current. NCTRC routinely notifies all CTRSs and educators regarding specific changes to the NCTRC Standards through email announcements and newsletter postings. The following changes to the NCTRC Certification Standards have been approved by the Board of Directors for entry level professional eligibility. 2022 CONTENT COURSE CHANGE – INCREASE IN THERAPEUTIC RECREATION CONTENT COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Effective January 1, 2022, the standard pertaining to the required number of therapeutic recreation content courses will read as follows: Academic Path “A minimum of 18 semester or 24 quarter credit hours of RT/TR content coursework. A minimum of six (6) courses in RT/TR is required and each course must be a minimum of three (3) credit hours. Two (2) of the required RT/TR courses may be taught by the applicant as a full-time educator. Content specific RT/TR coursework is recommended as part of the NCTRC professional eligibility requirements. Specific course content in the following areas: a) Assessment; b) TR Process; and c) Advancement of the Profession is highly recommended but not required for eligibility.” Equivalency Path A & B “A minimum of 18 semester or 24 quarter credit hours of RT/TR content coursework. A minimum of six (6) courses in RT/TR is required and each course must be a minimum of three (3) credit hours. Two (2) of the required RT/TR courses may be taught by the applicant as a full-time educator. Content specific RT/TR coursework is recommended as part of the NCTRC professional eligibility requirements. Specific course content in the following areas: a) Assessment; b) TR Process; and c) Advancement of the Profession is highly recommended but not required for eligibility.”

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Disciplinary Issues


How are disciplinary issues reported to NCTRC?

NCTRC considers alleged violations of the NCTRC Certification Standards a serious offense and encourages all responsible parties to contact NCTRC with any direct knowledge of CTRS professional misconduct. Alleged violations of the NCTRC Certification Standards must be submitted in writing to the NCTRC Executive Director and should identify the person(s) alleged to be involved and the facts concerning the alleged conduct in as much detail and specificity as possible. The allegations should identify by name, address and telephone number the person making the information known to NCTRC and others who may have knowledge of the facts and circumstances concerning the alleged conduct. Available documentation should also be provided to the Executive Director and the Executive Director may request additional information relating to the content or form of the allegations. Please review the NCTRC Certification Standards, Part IV: NCTRC Disciplinary Process for further information.

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Other


Do I need to report a name and/or address change?

NCTRC requires that all candidates and certificants maintain their legal name and address in the official NCTRC records. To report a name change, login to MY NCTRC LOGIN and complete the Name Change process. If you only need to change your address, you may update your contact information by logging into your profile at MY NCTRC LOGIN or you may email your requested changes to nctrc@nctrc.org.

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How do I get a new certificate and /or pin?

The NCTRC office will mail certificates and pins upon initial certification, recertification every 5 years, and upon request. To print your certificate, login to MY NCTRC LOGIN and on your Dashboard Profile, scroll down to CTRS Certificate and print your updated certificate.   Due to a lack of interest and usage by certificants, the wallet card has been discontinued. 

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