Recently Google changed their certification guidelines to be a Certified Partner. To become individually certified, a person has to manage an account for a period of time, and pass two tests: fundamental search, and advanced search. A Certified Partner has to have more than one Certified Individual and manage a higher spend. Under the old rules, to be a Certified Partner, the spend threshold was $100,000 in spend over 90 days. This has been reduced to $10,000 over 90 days, which I think is wrong. The idea for being a certified company, I think, is that it should show a certain level of management, more indicative in the higher spend. For the record, as of 8/23/2010, we managed $858,856.57 in media spend for clients in the last 90 days. Between Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Facebook we manage approximately $4.5 million in annual spend on behalf of our clients. (Updating this in 2013, we now manage close to $20 Million per year)
Under the new rules, the tests are harder, and you now have to get a higher score to pass (85% and 80% respectively on the two tests). In the old days, you had to get 70% on the one test, which was still pretty hard, or at least stressful.
All the staff managing paid placement (SEM / PPC) are certified and have passed the new set of tests. This of course makes us a Google AdWords Certified Company, which we have been since 2007. Our other staff focuses on SEO, reporting, link building, writing, and other elements that don’t require them to take these tests.