Sexuality Educator Requirements
The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) has established that the following educational and experiential activities will meet the requirements for Sexuality Educator Certification.
I. Membership in AASECT
The applicant may hold Professional, Retired, or Life Membership in AASECT.
II. AASECT Code of Ethics
The applicant will have read the AASECT Code of Ethics. By signing the certification application form, the applicant agrees to be bound by the AASECT Code of Ethics.
III. Academic and Professional Experience
The applicant will have earned an academic degree from an accredited college or university recognized by the Council on Post-secondary Accreditation and acquired professional experience as follows. Only coursework from accredited institutions and/or AASECT approved or sponsored courses will be accepted to fulfill content requirements for certification.
A. Bachelor's degree plus four years of professional experience as a sexuality educator. A minimum of one thousand (1,000) hours (cumulative), of professional experience as a sexuality educator, in not under two (2) years and not over five (5) years prior to certification, will be documented by the applicant.
– OR –
B. Master's degree plus three years of professional experience as a sexuality educator. A minimum of one thousand (1,000) hours (cumulative), of professional experience as a sexuality educator, in not under two (2) years and not over five (5) years prior to certification, will be documented by the applicant.
– OR –
C. Doctoral degree plus two years of professional experience as a sexuality educator. A minimum of one thousand (1,000) hours (cumulative), of professional experience as a sexuality educator, in not under two (2) years and not over five (5) years prior to certification, will be documented by the applicant.
D. Applicants from outside the United States must document equivalent academic and professional experience.
For each year of professional experience, a minimum of one hundred (100) participant/ educator contact hours providing sexuality education must be documented. These hours are part of, not in addition to, the one thousand (1,000) hours required.
IV. Activities That Qualify as Professional Sexuality Education Experience
Professional sexuality education experience may be paid or volunteer and may include classroom teaching at the elementary, secondary, and higher education levels. It also includes education for groups of children, adolescents, or adults, training for professionals, and outreach and education in community-based, healthcare, corporate, and faith-based settings.
Examples of professional experience include, but are not limited to:
A. Participating in professional development seminars, training, conferences, and courses.
B. Designing and conducting workshops, courses, and seminars.
C. Contributing to the sexuality education literature; developing curriculum.
D. Planning and administering programs.
E. Delivering educational interventions that may be lectures or other forms of group interactive learning, as well as one-on-one (participant/educator) education sessions. Sexuality educators teach and train about a range of topics, including, but not limited to, sexual health; sexual and reproductive anatomy and physiology; family planning, contraception, and pregnancy/childbirth; sexually transmitted infections; gender identity and roles; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues; sexual function and dysfunction; sexual pleasure; sexual variation; sexuality and disability; sexuality and chronic illness; sexual development across the lifespan; sexual abuse, assault, and coercion; and sexuality across cultures.
V. Human Sexuality Education: Core Knowledge
The applicant will have completed a minimum of ninety (90) clock hours of academic coursework in sexuality education, covering general knowledge in the Core Knowledge areas listed below. Of these ninety (90) clock hours of Core Knowledge, seventy-five (75) hours may be earned through eLearning. Education should be from an accredited university or college, may include some AASECT CE Credits, or be a combination of both academic coursework and AASECT CE Credits.
When documenting the ninety (90) hours, it is expected that the applicant document at least three (3) clock hours per content area listed under Core Knowledge. [one (1) clock hour = sixty (60) minutes] The remaining hours can be spread as desired among the core areas, with a maximum of twenty (20) hours in any one area.
Coursework from accredited academic institutions will be accepted to fulfill content for AASECT Certification. AASECT sponsored or approved CE credit courses will also be accepted to fulfill content required for AASECT Certification. All other professional CE credit courses and/or trainings will count for one half (1/2) of full AASECT sponsored or approved courses/trainings. Acceptance of coursework, AASECT sponsored/approved CE credits or non-AASECT sponsored/approved CE credits is at the discretion of the AASECT Certification Committee member reviewers.
Note: For credits from AASECT sponsored or AASECT approved CE programs (one (1) CE = one (1) AASECT credit). For credits from non-AASECT sponsored or non-AASECT approved CE programs (two (2) CE credits = one (1) AASECT credit).
All candidates must have knowledge of the following as they relate to sexual health and pleasure:
A. Ethics and ethical behavior.
B. Developmental sexuality from a bio-psycho-social perspective across the life course.
C. Socio-cultural, familial factors (e.g., ethnicity, culture, religion, spirituality, socioeconomic status, family values), in relation to sexual values and behaviors.
D. Issues related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity: heterosexuality, issues and themes impacting lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual people; gender identity and expression.
E. Intimacy skills (e.g., social, emotional, sexual), intimate relationships, interpersonal, relationship and family dynamics.
F. Diversities in sexual expression and lifestyles, including, but not limited to, polyamory, swinging, BDSM, and tantra.
G. Sexual and reproductive anatomy/physiology.
H. Health/medical factors that may influence sexuality, including, but not limited to, illness, disability, drugs, mental health, conception, pregnancy, childbirth & pregnancy termination, contraception, fertility, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infection, other infections, sexual trauma, injury, and safer sex practices.
I. Range of sexual functioning and behavior, from optimal to problematic, including, but not limited to, common issues such as: desire discrepancy, lack of desire, difficulty achieving or maintaining arousal, sexual pain and penetration problems, and difficulty with orgasm.
J. Sexual exploitation, including sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.
K. Cyber sexuality and social media.
L. Substance use/abuse and sexuality.
M. Pleasure enhancement skills.
N. Learning theory and its application.
O. Knowledge of professional communication skills used with clients, students, and colleagues.
P. History of the discipline of sex research, theory, education, counseling, and therapy.
Q. Principles of sexuality research and research methods.
It is expected that the applicant document at least three (3) clock hours [one (1) clock hour = sixty (60) minutes] per content area listed above (A-Q). The remaining hours can be spread as desired amongst the seventeen (17) core areas, with a maximum of twenty (20) hours in any one area.
Education should be from an accredited university or college, may include some AASECT CE Credits, or be a combination of both.
VI. Sexuality Education Training
The applicant shall have completed a minimum of sixty (60) clock hours of training in how to effecitvely carry out (do) sexuality education. Of these sixty (60) hours of Specialty Training in Sexuality Education, thirty (30) hours may be earned through eLearning. The remaining thirty (30) hours (non-eLearning) must be in-person learning [synchronous eLearning does not apply for these remaining thirty (30) hours].
A portion of these hours in sexuality education training may be in general education (e.g., undergraduate or graduate courses in theory and methods of education), but at least thirty (30) hours must be in sexuality education. Sexuality education training may have been obtained through academic credit courses, workshops, or practicum experiences.
Applicants are required to document at least three (3) hours in each content area listed below, with a maximum of twenty (20) hours in any one content area A – E below.
A. Sexuality education training will include, but is not limited to: theory and methods of general education (including curriculum development, delivery, and evaluation).
B. Theory and methods of sexuality education (including curriculum development, delivery, and evaluation).
C. Ethical issues in sexuality education.
D. Theory and methods of approaches to sexuality education with specific populations (e.g., youth, older adults, couples, ethnic/ cultural/ faith-based populations, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities).
E. Theory and methods of different approaches to sexuality education delivery (e.g., small group work, one-on-one education, large group lectures or interaction, online delivery or use of other electronic means).
Note: The difference between the requirements in Human Sexuality Education (V) and Sexuality Education Training (VI) is that the education requirement in V is directed at general knowledge about human sexuality, while the training requirements in VI are directed at specific skills in sexuality education. The two categories of requirements are sufficiently different. Therefore, documentation is necessary in each.
VII. Attitudes and Values Training Experience
The applicant will have participated in a minimum of ten (10) clock hours of structured group experience in which the major focus is on a process-oriented exploration of the applicant's own feelings, attitudes, values, and beliefs regarding human sexuality and sexual behavior [e.g., a Sexuality Attitude Reassessment (SAR)]. The applicant must have been an attendee in the SAR and not been functioning as facilitator or co-facilitator in any capacity.
Such training may not be personal psychotherapy or an academic experience in which the primary emphasis is on cognitive information. It is strongly recommended that this experience occur early in the applicant's training to be most beneficial.
It is strongly preferred that the SAR be AASECT sponsored or approved. The applicant will submit, in English, a one-page comprehensive statement of his/her professional philosophy and goals of sexuality education, including how the SAR affected that philosophy.
VIII. Field Work or Practicum Training Experience in Sexuality Education
Supervised sexuality education experience is the crux of AASECT Certification. It is in the educational milieu in which competency is demonstrated. The applicant shall have completed a minimum of providing one hundred (100) hours of supervised sexuality education. Sexuality education shall have been conducted in one or more settings such as the following: college and universities, public schools, professional schools and religious institutions, on-line formats, human service agencies, or community and public health clinics.
Field work or professional training experience should include but not be limited to:
A. Development of an educational/learning philosophy.
B. Curriculum and syllabus development.
C. Direct observation of teaching/training activities by AASECT Certified Supervisor.
D. Discussion and development of pedagogic styles and strategies.
The Sexuality Educator Supervisor will review and evaluate the applicant’s ability to:
A. Assess educational needs.
B. Define goals and objectives.
C. Match teaching strategies with proposed outcomes.
D. Design and effectively use instruments which assess the performance (knowledge, behavior, attitude changes) of program participants and program effectiveness.
E. Utilize evaluation feedback.
F. Apply educational research findings.
G. Access and use other human and material resources.
H. Implement and effectively utilize educational methodologies which address the cognitive and affective dimensions of sexuality.
Individuals beginning supervision toward AASECT Sexuality Educator Certification must be members of the organization at the time the supervision contract begins.
The applicant will have completed a minimum of twenty-five (25) hours of supervision with an AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator Supervisor. These twenty-five (25) hours may be individual or group supervision, with a minimum of twelve (12) hours of individual supervision. Individual supervision means one-to-one supervision. The minimum duration of the supervision will have been at least twelve (12) months.
In order to open a file for the Sexuality Educator Supervisee, a Supervision Contract outlining the plan for supervision and signed by both Supervisor and Supervisee, will be submitted to the AASECT office and approved by the Practitioner Supervisor Certification Committee PRIOR to commencement of individual or group supervision. All contracts should follow the format presented under AASECT Guidelines for Supervision and include all the documents required for contract.
Supervision hours accrued prior to or without a contract on file in the AASECT office will NOT count toward certification. Contracts are necessary for individual and for group supervision. Supervision should occur with some regularity once initiated (e.g., once a week or twice a month for a minimum of one hour per supervision session and a maximum of four hours per session). The Supervisor will review and evaluate the applicant's academic preparation, professional experience, and educational/facilitation skills. Through observing the provision of a sexuality education program developed and implemented by the applicant, the Supervisor will seek to determine the Supervisee's ability.
Group supervision by phone or web meeting should have no more than four (4) people per one-hour meeting to enable multiple people to present issues if needed and to offer time for questions. If two supervisors meet together in person to do group supervision, they may have five (5) – eight (8) supervisees in a group, due to greater interaction and observation made possible within a live setting. These larger group sessions should generally not extend longer than two (2) hours each.
The following do not meet the Supervision requirements:
- Supervision with a family member or a significant other.
- Supervision with a colleague with whom one is involved in a business partnership.
- Management or administrative meetings with an organizational director or executive.
X. Application Process and Approval Process
To submit by mail:
In addition to the appropriate application fee ($300), which is non-refundable, the candidate will submit one copy, in English, one-sided (no binding or staples) of the following:
A. Completed formal AASECT Sexuality Educator Certification Application, signed and dated.
B. Copy of official transcript. Transcript may be scanned into the application and does not need to be in a sealed envelope (Item III).
C. Copy of license, certification, or proof of membership in one of the approved disciplines or professional organizations (Item IV).
D. Official transcripts, attendance certificates, syllabi, etc., documenting ninety (90) hours of education in the designated Core Knowledge areas of human sexuality (Item V).
E. Official transcripts, attendance certificates, syllabi and other credible evidence documenting sixty (60) hours of training in sexuality education that includes the designated areas of focus (Item VI).
F. Official documentation of participation in a structured group experience focusing on sexual attitudes and values e.g., a SAR (Item VII).
G. Endorsement form letter(s) from supervisor(s) certifying a minimum of one hundred (100) hours of supervision of providing sexuality education.
H. Endorsements must be received from the following persons on the appropriate forms:
1. An AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator Supervisor attesting to the applicant's supervised clinical work.
2. A professional colleague who can comment on the applicant's professional responsibilities, professional ethics and overall ability as a sexuality educator.
3. A character reference from someone outside the applicant's immediate work setting , from someone who has known the applicant for a minimum of two (2) or more years (example: former teacher, former employer or employee, clergy member, someone with whom the applicant has had a working relationship). Do not use family members or significant others, relatives, personal friends, business partners.
The applicant should clearly mark each document in their application so that the document can easily be matched with the certification requirement to which it applies. All documentation will become the property of AASECT.
Upon receipt of a complete application package, AASECT will forward the application to the Sexuality Educator Certification Committee for review. If the reviewers have questions or need additional information, the applicant will be contacted. When all criteria are met and approved by Committee, the applicant will receive notification of the approval.
A. All certified members are required to comply with the ethical standards established by AASECT as expressed in the AASECT Code of Ethics.
B. Upon approval from the Sexuality Educator Certification Committee, the successful applicant will receive a certificate in recognition of having met AASECT requirements for certification in the area of Sexuality Education. Certification must be renewed every three (3) years. A new certificate will be sent when renewal criteria are met. (Click here for Certification Renewal Criteria)
C. Each AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator will be listed in the AASECT Membership Directory and will be eligible to receive referrals from the Headquarters Office and AASECT website.
D. Membership in AASECT will be maintained on an annual basis to retain the AASECT Certification status. If membership in AASECT lapses, certification will also lapse. (Click here to find the policy for re-instatement after certification lapse.)
What Counts as Credits Towards AASECT Certification?
The minimum requirements of education and training for Sexuality Educator Certification are:
- Ten (10) hours of SAR.*
- Ninety (90) hours of Human Sexuality Core Knowledge**; seventy-five (75) of these ninety (90) hours can be via eLearning.
- Sixty (60) hours of training specific to Sexuality Education***; thirty (30) of these sixty (60) hours can be via eLearning.
*SAR (10 hours)
It is strongly preferred that the SAR be AASECT sponsored or approved.
**Human Sexuality Core Knowledge (90 hours)
It is preferred that the ninety (90) hours of human sexuality Core Knowledge be acquired via university or college coursework. Seventy-five (75) of these ninety (90) hours can be earned by eLearning.
***Training Specific to Sexuality Education (60 hours)
Sexuality education training may have been obtained through university/college credit courses, comprehensive sexuality education programs, or AASECT approved Sexuality Education Training Institutes. A minimum of sixty (60) clock hours is required of which thirty (30) hours can be through eLearning.
Most individuals applying for initial certification will not have accomplished any of the items listed below. However, for those individuals who have done so, on a case-by-case basis, AASECT will consider accepting any of the following alternative mechanisms for meeting some of the ninety (90) hours of Core Knowledge.
- Publication of a sexually related book. The book must meet AASECT criteria as determined by the Certification Steering Committee. Each book = up to ten (10) AASECT CE Credits, depending on the subject, content, and length of the book, as determined by the Certification Steering Committee. If there is more than one book, each book has to be about a completely different sexual related topic.
- Publication of a paper in a professional journal or a chapter in a text book. The content must be about some aspect of human sexuality, and the journal or book must meet AASECT criteria as determined by the Certification Steering Committee. Each article or chapter = up to five (5) AASECT CE Credits. If there is more than one paper or chapter, each of them has to be about a completely different aspect of the sexual related topic.
- Editing of collected works, books, or journals about sexually related issues. The Certification Steering Committee will determine if the edited work meets AASECT criteria. Each edited work = up to ten (10) AASECT CE Credits. If there is more than one edited work, each work has to be about a completely different sexual related topic.
- Master’s thesis about some aspect of human sexuality. Up to ten (10) AASECT CE Credits.
- Doctoral dissertation about some aspect of human sexuality. Up to fifteen (15) AASECT CE Credits.
- Designing and conducting a sexually related training or sexually enrichment program for AASECT members (sponsored or approved by AASECT). Up to a maximum of fifteen (15) hours of presentation. One (1) hour = One (1) AASECT CE Credit.
- Designing and conducting a sexually related training or sexually enrichment program for a non-AASECT setting, or one not sponsored by AASECT. The Certification Steering Committee will determine whether the teaching experience meets AASECT criteria. Up to a maximum of ten (10) hours of presentation.