Upward Mobility Program (For Current State Employees)

The Upward Mobility Program is a joint venture between CMS and AFSCME to help fill certain targeted titles. CMS administrates this program. State employees enrolled in the Upward Mobility Program gain elevated contractual rights when bidding on Upward Mobility Target titles, as well as additional pathways to change career fields within the State of Illinois. Employees can work toward advancement in the following major career paths: Data Processing, Office Services, Accounting, Human Services, Criminal Justice, and Nursing. Depending on the targeted title, Upward Mobility candidates will either need to take a test or obtain a specific degree or license. In cases in which current employees do not have the required degree or license, the Upward Mobility Program will help cover a portion of the tuition costs when funds are available. Covered tuition and fees are paid directly to the schools by the State of Illinois. Employees have paid time off to take an Upward Mobility proficiency test, and partial time off to attend classes when necessary. Once all requirements are met, employees receive an Upward Mobility grade notice and are placed on a separate eligibility list, which gives them special consideration in the filling of vacancies.


The Upward Mobility Program is open to certified AFSCME-represented employees currently employed with the State who are interested in career advancement in targeted job titles. Employees also must have completed their probationary period with the State and be in certified status.

Targeted Job Titles

There are three types of job titles in the Upward Mobility Program: certificate, credential and dual.

  • Dual titles include positions for which employees are required to take a written proficiency exam OR obtain a degree or license (a combination of certificate and credential). Vacancies for dual titles are filled using the same priorities as are used for certificates.
  • Certificate titles include positions for which employees are required to take a written proficiency exam prior to enrollment in specific courses. The exam will identify which classes, if any, are required. Upon completion of the required course work, employees are retested to ensure they possess the necessary knowledge and skills required for the position. When proficiency is demonstrated in all segments of an exam, the employee is issued a certificate.
    • A certificate gives an employee priority for the next vacancy in that title in any agency. When more than one employee with a certificate applies for the job, seniority prevails in accordance with contract provisions.
  • Credential titles include positions for which employees must hold a specific degree or license, such as Social Worker or Licensed Practical Nurse. Employees interested in applying for credential titles meet with an Upward Mobility Counselor to discuss education plans required for the chosen titles. When employees obtain the necessary degree and/or license, they are issued a credential.
    • Employees who complete the program for a credential title are considered qualified bidders for those titles.
    • Certified State of Illinois AFSCME employees under the jurisdiction of the Governor that already possess the necessary degree for an Upward Mobility credential title can submit an Upward Mobility promotional application along with their transcripts without enrolling in the program.


Interested AFSCME certified State of Illinois employees will need to sign up for the Upward Mobility Program during open enrollment via online registration. The Online Registration link can be found on the Upward Mobility Program Eligibility and Enrollment page.

Following registration, eligible employees will receive correspondence regarding the counseling process, as time permits. Once an enrollee is formally accepted into the program, they will be assigned a career counselor who assists in identifying an appropriate job title and career path. Counselors also help employees develop an education plan, specifying the necessary coursework to be completed and identifying sources where the coursework may be available.

Please note: Participants pursuing a college degree must sign a work commitment of two years in state service after the date of their last class. Employees who voluntarily leave state service without fulfilling this commitment must reimburse tuition and fees paid by Upward Mobility at an annual 7% interest rate. Unpaid amounts will be referred to a collection agency. An employee who does not enroll in a course or take a proficiency exam within 3 years will automatically be withdrawn from the program.

Upward Mobility Contact Information

Upward Mobility Program

Sangamo Building

1021 North Grand Avenue East

Springfield, IL 62702

Hotline: 1-833-452-4836

TDD: 1-800-526-0844

e-Mail: CMS.UMPCounselor@Illinois.gov

Springfield Centrex users may call:

524-1073 (voice)

785-3979 (TDD)

AFSCME Council 31

Upward Mobility Program Coordinator

615 S Second Street

P.O. Box 2328

Springfield, IL 62705-2328

Phone: 217-788-2800, Ext. 3348