Skip to main content

Become an ECA

girl sitting at desk writing on paper
Demonstrate your knowledge in the fundamentals of equity compensation with our newest designation, the Equity Compensation Associate. Become qualified to address equity compensation taxation, plan design, law, and accounting with equity plan participants.

Equity Compensation Associate (ECA)
 is the CEP Institute's new designation for individuals in equity compensation. An ECA is qualified in the fundamentals of equity compensation taxation, plan design, law, and very basic accounting, and can address these topics intelligently with equity plan participants.

The ECA designation is for individuals interacting with equity plan participants, whether working at a company that issues equity compensation, an equity plan services organization, or a wealth management firm, and for individuals who intend to become a CEP. For those who do not need full CEP certification, an ECA designation it is a way to demonstrate knowledge of equity compensation fundamentals.


Registration for the November 2023 ECA exam will open July 1st.
Click Here to create your account. 



An ECA is qualified in the fundamentals of equity compensation taxation, plan design, law, and very basic accounting, and can address these topics intelligently with equity plan participants.

The ECA exam is also the first test in the Certified Equity Professional (CEP) exam series. It is a prerequisite for continuing on to the other two exams that lead to the CEP designation. 

The ECA exam is the first of the three tests that lead to CEP certification. An ECA has demonstrated basic knowledge of equity compensation, in particular plan design and administration and taxation of different grant types. 

A CEP has demonstrated deep knowledge of the tax, accounting, corporate and securities law, and plan design and administration that would be expected of a professional in charge of a company's equity compensation plan or a service provider who must understand all aspects of a plan. 

An ECA is a prerequisite designation to a CEP.

The ECA exam focuses on an understanding of the different forms of equity compensation, including:

  • the ability to differentiate between types of equity compensation;
  • a working knowledge of equity compensation terminology;
  • the ability to read and interpret plan documents;
  • an understanding of transaction types and securities law requirements; and
  • a basic understanding of equity compensation accounting.

All of the CEP Institute’s exams are self-study. The exam itself is computer-based and open book, so we recommend preparing accordingly. We estimate preparing for one exam requires 40-50 hours of study time.

The CEP Institute updates all study materials on an annual basis. All study materials are emailed to candidates once they register. The materials, sent via PDF, will also be searchable via PDF and keyword. You are more than welcome to download/print/save any of the PDFs provided to you. However, you will not be able to access those versions of the PDFs (with any notes made) during the exam. The PDFs provided to you during the exam will be identical to the PDFs provided in the study materials, and will be searchable by keyword. This eliminates the need for pre-written notes, and will hopefully make the process of finding information in each test much simpler and faster. 

The ECA exam is administered via Pearson VUE testing centers and via ProctorU, a remote proctoring system. This allows candidates to test either in person at a testing center, or remotely from the comfort of their home. After registering through our CEPICONNECT System for their exam, registrants will receive an email from Pearson VUE/ProctorU, allowing them to select a testing date and time within the allotted testing window. To create an account or register for a new exam, please login here. 


ECAs are required to do 30 hours of Continuing Education every two years. The continuing education requirement can be satisfied by sitting for the CEP Level 2 and Level 3 exam or the Advanced Equity Compensation Accounting Certificate exam. For those not continuing on to the other CEP exams, the necessary hours can be acquired at industry conferences, NASPP and GEO chapter meetings, educational sessions offered by service providers, as well as recorded CEP Institute Symposium sessions and webinars.