Become an Illinois Certified Nursery Professional
A voluntary, professional certification program for owners and employees of nursery, landscape, and garden center firms.
Sponsored by the Illinois Green Industry Association

The ICN Pro Program—Get With a Positive Approach!

Professional certification is one of the most important steps an individual can take to demonstrate knowledge and commitment to his or her career. Certified individuals are able to stand before their peers and the public as examples of excellence in the Green Industry. Certification reflects achievement and establishes professional credentials. The IGIA wholeheartedly believes that the ICN Pro Program will give certified individuals, as well as the companies that employ them, the opportunity to increase their knowledge and ability to perform to or to exceed set standards while enhancing the overall image of the Green Industry Profession. Having a well-informed staff with a positive self-image results in better service to customers. This can lead to repeat customers, and a strengthened reputation for the company.

The ICN Pro Manual and Certification

The ICN Pro Program offers qualified candidates a manual for study and use as a reference tool on the job. The manual covers a variety of subjects including retail sales, care of nursery stock, fertilizers and landscape design. The skills and knowledge needed to serve the public will be proven by a written exam, which now covers general information detailed in the ICN Pro manual; and plant, insect and disease identification. Successful candidates are awarded an ICN Pro certificate and the right to advertise ICN Pro status on letterhead, business cards, clothing, etc. Other promotional materials also will be provided. Access the Manual

Taking the Exam

The ICN Pro exams are held at various times throughout the year and at various locations across the state. The ICN Pro exam consists of a General Standards exam and two areas of specialization: woody and perennial.  When you register to take the exam, you must choose if you will be testing for the woody or perennial specialty designation.  You cannot test for both on the same day.

Applicants have one hour for each part of the exam:
1. General Standards - 100 multiple choice questions 
2. Part II (Woody or Perennial) - multiple choice and matching questions
3. Part III (Woody or Perennial) - Plant and Pest ID: You will be asked to list both the common and botanical name of each plant from sample photos.

All of the information covered on the exams is detailed in the ICN Pro study manual. The exams test individuals on information in the exam chapters, plant identification, and pests and diseases. It is a paper exam given in parts.  You will have breaks throughout the exam.  You will be notified of test results by email within two weeks of taking the exam.


Enrollment in the program is voluntary.

  1. To become certified, an individual must: 
    1. Be the owner or officer of a green industry firm; 
    2. Have been employed by a green industry firm for a total of 4,000 hours; or 
    3. Have been employed by a green industry firm for 2,000 hours and have successfully completed two full years of classroom study in a recognized, college-level horticultural program.
  2. Successfully pass the ICN Pro examination.
  3. Pledge in writing that should their certificate ever be revoked for whatever reason, they will not display any distinguishing emblems, titles, or in any manner whatsoever imply that they are an Illinois.


  1. ICN Pro application forms may be obtained from the IGIA office and or may be completed online.
  2. An application form must be filed with the IGIA office.
  3. ICN Pro exams will be offered at throughout the year at various locations throughout the state. Applicants will be notified of test dates and locations.
  4. All applicants must meet the eligibility requirements prior to taking the exam.
  5. A minimum score of 70 is required on each part of the exam. An average score of 75 is necessary to pass the exam.
  6. Certification will be finalized by the IGIA after review of exam scores and verification of eligibility requirements.
  7. If a candidate fails the exam, they may be re-examined until successfully completing the exam. A nominal fee will be charged. Re-examination must be done within three years for scores from previous tests to transfer. 
  8. If a candidate is denied testing or fails to receive certification, they may appeal the decision to the IGIA Executive Director.
  9. Certification must be renewed every year. This is based on accrual of continuing education points, or re-taking and passing of the ICN Pro exam.

ICN Pro Exam Dates


ICN Pro Application Form