MAS Certifications Increase 48 Percent During Pandemic

Professional development and certification are valuable parts of every industry practitioner’s toolkit, and education has grown even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting economic fallout. To help its members, through June 30, PPAI has waived all education and certification fees for members and is offering 50-percent off those fees for associates. June 30 is the deadline to register without fees; coursework does not need to be completed by that date.

With a little more downtime than usual over the past several months, many industry companies and their employees have jumped at the chance to improve their skills and earn their certifications given this added incentive from PPAI.

“Education is important in every industry, however our industry is complex,” says Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, president and CEO of Cliff Quicksell Associates, and director of affiliate marketing and business development for distributor iPROMOTEu. “Technology-driven changes—from decorating techniques, fabric types, colors and product variation to product safety concerns—are dynamic and changing. I encouraged every affiliate and every manager at iPROMOTEu to get on board—and they have. I always push the affiliates to realize a professional designation and the knowledge gained from that education, if applied, is a major differentiator. Most professional organizations have a certification process. I am proud our industry does as well, and I am proud of the fact that a nice group of our managers and affiliates are taking charge and seeking their professional credentials.”

The Association’s professional development offerings have proven extremely popular in recent months, with April and May setting records for the number of certifications earned and June is on track to exceed them. Compared with April and May 2019, the same period in 2020 has seen a 14-percent increase in TAS [Trained Advertising Specialist] certificates earned, a 37-percent increase in CAS [Certified Advertising Specialist] certifications earned and a 48-percent increase in MAS [Master Advertising Specialist] certifications earned. The number of newly certified PPAI members in the industry has gone through the roof—825 individuals have earned their TAS, CAS, or MAS—since April 1.

“The courses that I have taken so far have been an enormous asset, especially in this COVID-19 era of selling,” says Julie Woodall, CAS, an account executive with HALO Branded Solutions. “Specifically, the session I took on HR in a COVID-era. I initially signed up for it to learn ‘the pain’ that my HR clients were going through with all of the new regulations and leave issues, but it taught me so much more. I finished the class full of fire, with so many ideas to make work-from-home and back-to-work initiatives successful programs for my clients who were struggling with this new reality. I won’t be looking at my COVID time as idle time. I am calling it ‘opportunity with empathy’ and I am taking very good care of my clients during a very unsure time in their careers.”

Margaret Watson, MAS, is an account executive with J.R. Enterprises/Promo Items LLC. She recently earned both her CAS and MAS certifications. She says, “I’ve been in the promotional products business for many years but learned so much from these classes. I feel like Socrates, ‘The more I know, the more I realize I know nothing.’ I never realized so much valuable information was available right at my fingertips and regret not taking advantage of it earlier in my career. I also didn’t realize how proud I’d be to complete the training and earn my designation. I think this will show clients I’m willing to go the extra mile and put forth effort to provide them better service.”

Suzanne Simpson, MAS, with Gemline in Lawrence, Massachusetts, adds, “I remember learning PPAI had opened up their education series at no charge for certification during the early days of COVID-19, when our industry was just discovering our place. Not only did my certification hours keep me engaged and focused, I always took nuggets of information from each course knowing it wouldn’t be long before we’d be back supporting our clients. PPAI’s sense of empathy and kindness will always be remembered and truly, this decision to support their members showed their embrace and continued community/thought-leadership philosophy.”

To take advantage of the education opportunities PPAI has to offer, sign up at For questions or assistance, reach out to PPAI’s professional development staff at

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