What is the Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) Certification Program?
10 U.S.C. Section 384
requires the Department of Defense (DoD) to establish a Security Cooperation Workforce Development Program (SCWDP) which manages the Security Cooperation
Workforce (SCW) certification program. The SCWDP purpose is to ensure a certified, professional DoD SC workforce. The Defense Security Cooperation
University (DSCU) administers the SCW Certification Program which includes mandatory training, SC experience, and continuous learning.
Why was the SCW Certification Program established?
A certified, professional SC workforce is critical to the United States National Defense Strategy. The Department of Defense
(DoD) established the SCW Certification Program in response to The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 enacted
10 U.S.C. Section 384, “Department of Defense Security Cooperation Workforce Development.” Section 384 requires the establishment
of the DoD Security Cooperation Workforce Development Program (SCWDP) and identifies professional certification as a mandatory
element of the program.
Who must be certified?
All members of the Department of Defense (DoD) Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) are required to obtain an appropriate
security cooperation (SC) certification, and they must maintain certification as long as they remain in an SC position.
10 U.S.C Section 384(h) 1-6 defines the DoD SCW as:
- Members of the armed forces and civilian employees of the Department of Defense working in the security cooperation organizations of United States missions overseas.
- Members of the armed forces and civilian employees of the Department of Defense in the geographic combatant commands and functional combatant commands responsible for planning, monitoring, or conducting security cooperation activities.
- Members of the armed forces and civilian employees of the Department of Defense in the military departments performing security cooperation activities, including activities in connection with the acquisition and development of technology release policies.
- Other military and civilian personnel of Defense Agencies and Field Activities who perform security cooperation activities.
- Personnel of the Department of Defense who perform assessments, monitoring, or evaluations of security cooperation programs and activities of the Department of Defense.
- Other members of the armed forces or civilian employees of the Department of Defense who contribute significantly to the security cooperation programs and activities of the Department of Defense by virtue of their assigned duties.
Which Billets/positions are exempt from Security Cooperation Workforce Development Program (SCWDP)?
The following categories of billets/positions are exempt from Security Cooperation Workforce Development Program (SCWDP) certification requirements:
- Members of the armed forces and DoD civilian employees in operational units engaged in intermittent, occasional, or incidental interactions
with the security establishment of a foreign country, not substantially accountable or responsible for achieving a purpose or purposes
defined by Title 10 of the United States Code, Section 301 (10 U.S.C. 301).
- DoD attorneys, since they are subject to separate professional licensing requirements. However, SC training opportunities should be
extended to attorneys when such training is relevant to their duties, and SC-related training may be made mandatory at the discretion
of the supervising attorney.
- Private sector employees providing services/support under contract with the DoD, although there may be SC-related training
requirements associated with the functions that some contractors perform in support of DoD SC programs and activities. Those
requirements should be articulated/delineated in the contract terms.
NOTE: There may still be SC-related training requirements associated with the categories of positions listed above.
Those requirements will be identified by the individual DoD components or in other DoD guidance.
Are DoD employees not in an SC position and/or contractors eligible for certification?
Only members of the Department of Defense (DoD) Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) as defined in 10 U.S.C. 384(h) have certification requirements. Personnel who are not in a DoD SCW position cannot be certified, but they can still register for and complete training. Online distance learning is generally available to all. However, registration for resident courses is prioritized per the position below:
Priority for registration of resident courses:
- DoD personnel assigned to Key SCW Positions taking a course that is required for certification.
- DoD personnel assigned to Key SCW positions taking a course that is not required for certification but that is deemed necessary by the DoD Component based on the developmental needs of the person to fill the Key SCW position.
- DoD personnel not in Key SCW positions taking a course required for certification.
- Locally Employed Staff taking a course requested by the relevant Combatant Command.
- Contractors taking a course required by the terms of the contract.
- DoD personnel assigned to SCW positions (but not to Key SCW positions) taking a course for any other purpose.
- Interagency partner personnel.
Certain non-SCW personnel perform important SC functions but are not part of the statutory SCW including, but not
limited to, civilian employees of the United States Coast Guard, foreign service nationals, and locally employed staff.
Those personnel are not eligible for certification under this program. Instead, DSCA may grant them a certificate of
equivalency when they meet the training and experience requirements for certification in a particular AoC and certification level.
A certificate of equivalency documents that the individual meets the mandatory training and experience requirement for certification in a particular AoC and certification level. While not an SC certification per se, a certificate of equivalency will have commensurate value within the SCW equivalent to the statutory certification required under this certification program.
What are Key Security Cooperation Workforce positions?
Key Security Cooperation Workforce billets or positions are those with duties and responsibilities that require the incumbent to issue guidance, make decisions, or direct security cooperation (SC) activities that directly affect the execution of SC programs or activities.
Key SC positions and billets are inherently governmental. There is no grade or rank requirement and no specified nor prescribed certification level for Key SC positions.
What are the program’s certification levels and areas of concentration?
There are three standard levels of certification intended for GS-15/O-6 and below.
There is an Executive-level certification option for security cooperation (SC) executives (including members of the Senior Executive Service,
general officers/flag officers, GS-15/O-6 in key SC positions, and E-9).
- Basic-level Certification: General knowledge and understanding of SC
- Intermediate-level Certification: Focus is on developing technical knowledge and understanding of one Area of Concentration (AoC) in the context of broader SC
- Advanced-level Certification: Focus is on increased technical mastery of one AoC in the context of broader SC
- Executive-level Certification: Focus is on a broad understanding of SC and its strategic application to achieve defense and national security objectives
Each SC workforce position will be assigned one of the following AoCs:
- SC Planning, Oversight, & Execution Management
- SC Case Life Cycle Management
- Security Cooperation Office Operations & Management
- SC Execution Support Management
- SC Acquisition Management
How does a workforce member know his/her position/billet’s certification level, area of concentration, and required courses?
All workforce members should discuss this with their supervisor and visit the
Certification Center on the DSCU.mil website
to learn their individual certification requirements. Workforce members can learn more about and register for courses on the
Course Catalog page of the DSCU.mil website.
What are the training completion deadlines?
The following timelines apply for completion of certification levels:
- Basic-level Certification: One year to complete all required basic-level courses
- Intermediate-level Certification: One year to complete basic-level courses and 2 years to complete all required intermediate-level courses (3 years total)
- Advanced-level Certification: 3 years to complete basic- and intermediate-level courses, and 2 years to complete all required advanced-level courses (5 years total)
- Executive-level Certification: Three years to complete all required executive-level courses
The above timelines begin at the Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) publication date for existing SCW members or the date
a new member is assigned to a SCW position.
How do Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) members meet certification requirements?
To be eligible for certification in the appropriate SC Area of Concentration (AoC) at the appropriate certification level, a SCW member must:
(a) Complete all required training through the Defense Security Cooperation University (DSCU) or its designated affiliates
(b) Obtain one year of experience at the required level and SC AoC for their position
(c) Be in good standing with the program
SCW members must maintain good standing in the Certification Program. SCW members who complete required courses by the
course completion timeline and meet the continuous learning requirement are in good standing with the program. Once obtained,
the SCW member must maintain it by meeting continuous learning requirements and thus remain in good standing.
SCW members do not need to request to be certified. Once eligible, the status is automatically updated, and their Component
Certification Authority will see that they are eligible for certification in the
What are the Continuous Learning requirements?
Continuous learning events must be focused on security cooperation (SC)-related topics for the hours to count toward the requirement. Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) members should submit their proposed activities to their supervisor for approval. A list of appropriate topics is maintained on the Defense Security Cooperation University (DSCU) website. Completion of certification courses counts toward the requirement.
Basic-level: 20 hours of SC-related developmental opportunities every 2 years, including completion of an annual SC update course offered by DSCU.
Intermediate- and advanced-level: 20 hours of SC-related developmental opportunities every 2 years, including completion of an annual SC update course offered by DSCU. At least 12 of the 20 hours must be focused on maintaining currency in an Area of Concentration.
Executive-level: 20 hours of SC-related developmental opportunities every 2 years, including completion of an annual SC update course offered by DSCU.
Can certification expire?
Certification does not expire once achieved as long as the Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) member remains in
an SCW position and maintains good standing with the Certification Program by completing all continuous learning requirements.
What happens if a person leaves the Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW)?
Former members of the SCW are not required to maintain certification. However, those who were certified and in good
standing with the program may continue to complete continuous learning requirements if they wish.
A record of training completed for certification is maintained for all former members of the SCW. If the former member
returns to the SCW, they will retain credit for courses previously completed.
What happens if a Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) member fails to achieve certification or maintain good standing?
If an SCW member does not complete their certification requirements within the required deadlines or if they do not
satisfy the continuous learning requirements after certification, the member will not be in good standing with the
program and may be subject to adverse personnel action by their Department of Defense (DoD) Components. Certification
is a condition of employment for civilians and an order for service members. This is consistent with other DoD certification programs.
Is any of my previous security cooperation (SC) training or experience transferable?
A limited number of courses that were previously offered by the Defense Institute for Security Cooperation Studies (DISCS) are
considered equivalent to the new Certification Program courses. Personnel who completed one or more of those legacy DISCS courses
within a specified timeframe will receive credit for the equivalent Certification Program course. This process is automatic and
does not need to be requested.
The experience “clock” starts when you are entered into your SCW position in the Security Cooperation Workforce Development
Database (SCWD-D). As long as you remain in a position with the same AoC at the same or higher certification level required
for one consecutive year, you will receive credit for your experience. Members who were entered into the SCWD-D before
January 1, 2021, have their experience requirement waived and may be certified as soon as they complete their required certification courses
Is there a “test-out” option for courses?
Some Certification Program courses have a “test-out” option. This option allows experienced Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW)
members registered for those courses to take a pre-test. A member who scores high enough on the pre-test will automatically
receive credit for having completed that course without needing to take the course. If a test-out option is available for a
course, it will be indicated on the Defense Security Cooperation University (DSCU) website.
Who should I contact for more information?
If you have questions about registration please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions about certification please contact email@example.com.
Who is my Component Certification Authority (CCA)?
Please contact the Defense Security Cooperation University (DSCU) at firstname.lastname@example.org
to find out who serves as your CCA.
How do I find my SCWD-D admin?
Please contact the Defense Security Cooperation University (DSCU) at email@example.com to find out who serves as your SCWD-D admin
If I need to travel to take courses, who is responsible for the funding?
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) will centrally-fund Defense Security Cooperation University (DSCU)
courses taken by Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) members to achieve a required level of certification. If funds
are available, DSCA will centrally fund DSCU courses that a DoD component requires a SC Workforce member take, but
not required for certification. DSCA will not fund discretionary security cooperation (SC) training, non-SC training
or training taken for continuous learning credit.