Application Process

The decision to pursue the Certified Administrator of School Finance and Operations® (SFO®) certification is an important one. The commitment to professional development and continued improvement says a lot about you to your department, your district, and the school business profession.

The Candidate Handbook provides detailed information about the program, including application process, fees, renewal, recertification requirements, use of the SFO designation, and much more.

Steps to SFO Certification

Applications must be submitted through the SFO Credential Management System. Log in to create your account, submit your application, maintain your contact information, or check your certification status.

Important note: During the online application process, candidates are asked if they would like to “opt-in” or “opt-out” of the Public Registry. Please “opt-in” if you would like your name to be listed on the SFO Public Registry site.

Candidates who are ready to take the exams and have completed the application process follow the three steps to the SFO designation:

Step 1: Take and pass SFO Exam Part 1: Accounting.
Step 2: Take and pass SFO Exam Part 2: School Business Management.
Step 3: Adhere to the ASBO International Certification Code of Conduct.

Eligibility

There are two ways to establish SFO eligibility.

1. Certification Application

Exam Part 1: Accounting. To take the accounting test, there are no eligibility requirements.

Exam Part 2: School Business Management. To receive approval to take the Exam Part 2, you must meet the following educational and experience requirements:

  • Education Requirements
    • Master’s degree in a field related to school business management plus two years of experience as a school business official with overall administrative responsibility for, or administrative experience in, the areas in the exam competencies, or
    • Bachelor’s degree plus three years of experience as a school business official with overall administrative responsibility for, or administrative experience in, the areas in the exam competencies.
  • Experience Requirements
    In addition, depending on your education level, you must have at least 24 months of overall administrative responsibility in a K–12 or community college education system in each of these school business related areas:
    • Managing accounting systems
    • Managing accounting functions
    • Conducting financial planning and analysis
    • Conducting budgeting and reporting activities
    You must also have at least 24 months of administrative experience in a K–12 or community college education system, depending on education level, in at least three of the following school business related areas:
    • Risk management activities
    • School facilities
    • Information system
    • Human resource functions
    • Ancillary services

2. Seasoned Practitioner Application

Professionals who do not meet the educational requirements, but who believe they are seasoned practitioners, can request eligibility through the seasoned practitioner application process.

The seasoned practitioner application process allows individuals who have not achieved a bachelor’s degree to submit documentation of alternative education and professional experience for review by the Certification Commission for possible acceptance in lieu of the bachelor’s degree.

To be granted the seasoned practitioner status, an applicant must have been employed as a school business official for a minimum of seven years, in accordance with experience requirements cited above, and must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Certification Commission that the applicant’s combination of education and experience is equivalent to that demonstrated by a bachelor’s degree and three years of experience as a school business official.

If you are interested in applying as a seasoned practitioner, submit the seasoned practitioner application on the SFO Credential Management System under the “Complete a Form” tab.

Once your seasoned practitioner application has been approved, you may begin the SFO application process through the SFO Credential Management System.

Deadline

There is no application deadline. Applications for SFO certification are accepted all year. Candidates take the exam at a computer-based testing center through the Pearson VUE network in the United States and parts of Canada.

Fees

SFO Fees ASBO International Member Non-Member
Application Fee $150 $225
Exam Part 1: Accounting $195 $195
Exam Part 2: School Business Management $295 $295
Annual Renewal Fee $125 $125


Once certified, the SFO annual renewal fee is $125, due when the renewal application is submitted at the end of each one-year period.

The SFO certification is valid for three years. At the end of three years, certificants are required to submit a recertification plus the renewal application. There are no additional fees for the recertification process; only the $125 renewal fee is collected.

Refer to the Candidate Handbook for special circumstances, such as exam re-takes, missed test dates, etc.

You may pay online by credit card or submit a check to

ASBO International
Certification Department
11401 North Shore Drive
Reston, VA 20190-4200

If you choose to pay by check, please note that your application will be considered pending until payment is received. Once we receive payment, we will approve your exam registration forms and you will be able to schedule your exam.