So, I’ve been working in association publications and communications for three years, and before that I was in university communications for four years. I really want to get my CAE designation, but I’m pretty sure I’m not eligible yet–and won’t be til I’m almost 40. I’m in the middle of applying for my MPA in nonprofit and association management from George Mason, which is another “before-40” goal of mine.

Yet I see people younger than me who have the credential, and clearly, I’m sensitive about the under-35-to-watch moniker because, well, I was born in 1970 and kinda missed being the under-35 anything by virtue of graduating college, finally, in 2004. (Whether or not I’m someone to watch is moot. I was a lot cuter when I was under 35, though.)

The CAE isn’t my goal as much as the MPA is, but it seems like picking up the association management certificate, being only 6 additional credits after the nonprofit track, is a good idea. I mean, when you look at the organizations I do work for—churches, associations, and higher-ed institutions—they all have related focuses and I find the strategies that work for one can often be applied across all three.

But I wish I could get the CAE first somehow, even though I’ll hit 5 years in association staff around the same time I actually finish the MPA.

Thoughts? Is the credential worth fretting over?