5 Simple Steps to Read Tarot with Confidence

Tarot Certification – A Personal Experience with Sun Goddess Tarot

By July 25, 2012Tarotpreneurs

blog-20120725-tarot-certification-a-personal-experience-with-sun-goddess-tarotI first met Joanna when she asked to be part of the Free Tarot Readings page here at Biddy Tarot. She was eager to try out her skills, but she wanted to be very clear that she was still in the process of getting certified as a Tarot reader. She was working hard to attain her Certified Professional Tarot Reader (CPTR) status with the Tarot Certification Board. (Update (Dec 2013): The Tarot Certification Board is no longer in operation.)

Getting certified as a Tarot reader is a hot topic. Some say it’s a good idea, some steer well clear of it. Personally, I’m happy with having a professional membership with the Tarot Guild of Australia which required me to pass an exam, submit a Tarot reading record and do a test reading with another professional member. But, it’s totally up to the individual.

So, today I’m handing over to Joanna who will share her personal experience in obtaining Tarot certification. Over to you, Joanna…


Raising The Bar On My Tarot Reading Skills

When I started embracing the wonderful world of tarot, I made a decision to take the learning process a step further in the hope that I could improve the readings that I do for my clients daily.  I have recently gone through a difficult month obtaining my three certifications from the Tarot Certification Board of America.  This blog post chronicles my experience obtaining my certification and serves to encourage fellow tarot readers interested in raising the bar on their tarot reading skills to get themselves certified.

How I Got Started

When I was introduced to the wonderful world of tarot through a class conducted locally here in Singapore, I had my heart and mind prized open to what my tarot teacher termed “metaphysical science”.  Two months after graduating from that advance tarot class, reading for family and friends with accuracy was not enough for me.  I was increasingly intrigued and my voracious appetite for greater knowledge about the world of tarot led me to search for ways to take my skills a step further.  I discovered the American Tarot Association (ATA) and the Tarot Association of the British Isles (TABI).  As a member of the former, I was introduced to the Tarot Certification Board of America (TCBA) and the Free Tarot Network (FTN).  I never looked back since.

What’s The Point Of Getting Certified?

The TCBA was purpose-built to upskill tarot readers like us, depending on our goals. It aimed to raise the standard of tarot readers to legitimize the tarot community.   Some tarot readers may just want to read casually for friends, and do it well.  Some may want to make a career out of it by reading professionally.  And there are some who might want to mentor or teach tarot readers who are at the beginning of their journey with their tarot cards.   Whatever goals you have, TCBA’s different levels of certification are created to meet these goals.  They are, Certified Apprentice Tarot Reader (CATR), Certified Tarot Reader (CTR), Certified Professional Tarot Reader (CPTR), Certified Tarot Consultant (CTC), Certified Tarot Master (CTM), Certified Tarot Instructor (CTI) and Certified Tarot Grand Master (CTGM).

A Difficult 2 Weeks Preparing For CPTR Examinations

My desire to better my skills and knowledge to attain the goal of ultimately teaching and mentoring prospective tarot readers was what drove me to TCBA.  In the first two levels of certification examinations (CATR and CTR), I not only had to display a basic knowledge of tarot card meanings both upright and reversed but I had to also demonstrate my ability to do a reading with a spread of 1 to 7 cards.  That sounded pretty easy for me, until I started to work on achieving my CPTR qualification.  I swear, I had to nurse a 3 – day migraine due to mental fatigue after that experience ( I rationalized it as my brain’s difficulty in getting started after years of having left school) but what a wonderful experience it was.  And here’s why.

According to the TCBA website (, I was required to supply the examiner with the following:

  • my own personal code of ethics
  • demonstrate how I use my code with my clients
  • demonstrate how I handle troublesome or impossible questions and situations
  • explain how I intend to teach, mentor, or assist prospective tarot readers in how to read tarot card
  • verify that I have performed a minimum of twenty-five professional quality tarot readings
  • rephrase at least three improper or impossible questions and then answer them to the satisfaction of my examiner
  • demonstrate a high level of competency using tarot spreads using up to twelve cards

While the entire process sounds daunting, particularly for tarot readers like me who are relatively new with the art, it was necessary and definitely applicable to our day-to-day efforts of performing meaningful readings for our clients.

Code Of Ethics As An Important Foundation For A Tarot Reading Consultancy

The code of ethics is the critical foundation of a tarot reader’s practice.  Thankfully, I had already set up a full fledged tarot consultancy by this time, Sun Goddess Tarot, and did have a self-drafted code of ethics which I adhered to.  And mine went like this:

1) I will only speak the truth from what I have read in the cards

2) I will not judge you whatever the outcome of the reading may be

3) I will provide my sincere advice in the hope that you can uncover possible solutions to your situation

4) I will not accept questions related to lottery or other luck-based games

5) I will not offer any advice outside the scope of my expertise including financial, legal, religious and medical advice

Besides, my membership with ATA and TABI also bound me to their respective codes of ethics.

Demonstrating Proof Of Reading Experience

sungoddesstarotI can understand now, why the log of at least 25 readings was important to the process because robust tarot reading experience was necessary to make the certification process more meaningful.  In fact, the certification process had been useful in reminding me of how I should be applying my code of ethics to the readings that I do for clients everyday.

Being able to articulate my mentoring goals and explaining with conviction how I could mentor my peers was also an important step in the process.  At that time, I could relate my experience of helping beginner tarot readers who had contacted me with requests to re-interpret their card spreads either to affirm their accuracy or to provide alternative perspectives.

Dealing With Difficult Questions

I can assure you that in my experience reading for my clients, I had often come across a question that seems perplexing at first glance, unfocused or may border on a request for medical or legal advice.  I can easily rephrase some unfocused questions, or refuse a reading for one that borders on a request for medical or legal advice.  However, my experience of being tested on rephrasing difficult questions  has helped to raise my confidence in dealing with them more effectively.  I learnt to put myself in the shoes of the querant and manage responses with more empathy.

Designing A 12-Card Spread

When I was asked to do a reading using a 12-card spread, I went into a bit of a panic because I was never taught to read using a 12-card spread before.  I have learnt a few spreads in my time, like the basic horse shoe spread, the Celtic Cross, and the past, present and future spread. But a spread with 12 cards was not easy, so  I had to make a decision at that time to quickly design my own spread.

My 12-card spread went like this.

  • Card 1 – Self
  • Card 2 – Situation
  • Card 3 – Feelings
  • Card 4 – Thoughts
  • Card 5 – Past influence
  • Card 6 – Present impact
  • Card 7 – Start doing
  • Card 8 – Stop doing
  • Card 9 – Development
  • Card 10 – Outcome
  • Card 11 – Obstacles
  • Card 12 – Advice

The Value of A Tarot Mentor

Now, at that time, as I had applied to be a reader on the Free Tarot Network, I had to simultaneously undergo rigorous training.   For this purpose,  I was assigned with an experienced and qualified mentor.  It was a fantastic learning curve for me, because the FTN mentor was dedicated in helping me read not only accurately, but also more intuitively.  The skills I learnt had helped me with my CPTR examinations.

Interested in Getting Certified?

Here are my top tips for getting certified as a Tarot reader:

1)  For tarot readers at the beginning of their journey, focus on getting more opportunities to read for actual clients, beyond family and friends.  The experience will go a long way to helping you respond to the more difficult questions that the CPTR examinations require a reader to respond to.

2)  The tarot community is also  generous with help and advice.  Play an active part in the various tarot associations either locally or around the world.  Subscribe to popular tarot blogs.  Search the internet for other professional tarot readers’ websites.  Not only do you get a wider perspective on the subject from experienced tarot readers around the world,   they are also ever ready to support you through your journey, if you ask for help and advice.

What’s After The CPTR for me?

I have decided to further hone my skills with my clients, and build an abundance of experience doing different type of readings either in person, online, via phone, Skype, Facebook or at events.  I also want to practice doing multiple spreads preferably self-designed according to what my intuition tells me.  Once I have built that experience and confidence, I plan to complete the next level of certification, CTC, which requires me to write my own curriculum for teaching the 22 major arcana cards and demonstrate that I can attribute the 78 cards to another esoteric or occult paradigm, as well as justify their particular attributions. It sounds daunting already.

I love tarot with all my heart because of the limitless opportunities it brings.   While the certification had helped raise the standard of my tarot reading skills,  my experience reading for actual clients had helped hone my  intuition and improve confidence in my skills.  At the end of the day, what’s important in this business is that we remain true to putting our clients’ interest first.

About Joanna

joanna-free-tarot-readingsJoanna is a marketeer by trade, and a tarot card reader by accident.  She has recently achieved a Certified Professional Tarot Reader qualification from the Tarot Certification Board of America.  A member of the American Tarot Association and the Tarot Association of the British Isles, she is also endorsed as a reader for the Free Tarot Network.

She can be contacted at or

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  • Aasheesh says:

    Amazing journey indeed.Shows her commitment and dedication for Tarot.
    I personally feel that certification is very important if you seriously want to pursue Tarot.It gives you focussed learning and also awakens your latent talent.

  • Louise says:

    Hi Joanna,

    Wow, that was a fascinating insight into what you had to do to get certification. I’m sure the process boosted your confidence though. It raises issues we don’t often think about, like our code of ethics, and the various ethical dilemmas with reading (and there are a few!). I was interested that they focused a lot of how to handle the client’s questions, how to rephrase them and so on. It’s a pretty important aspect of our work…how to ask the question in the best way.

    Thanks for sharing that Joanna, it was beautifully written too. It was very interesting to get that insight into what’s going on with the professionalism of our art.
    All the best, Louise.

  • Daniel says:

    I would love to get to a stage like that myself if only i had more time on my hands. My question to this though is, “what if you dont read reversed cards?” I have seen on Aeclectic Tarot that half of the people in a poll conducted do not read reversed cards. How would the TCBA respond to this?

    A great blog, thank you for sharing this.


    • Misha says:

      I am the Executive Director of the TCBA. I would like to take the time to say what a wonderful article that describes accurately what the certification process is like with the TCBA. This article was brought to my attention and it was a pleaure reading it.

      In answer to Daniel’s question, the testing process was designed to allow everyone to have their own individual technique etc. We are aware that plenty of people do not read reversals and we have also certified plentyof people that do not. Even though a person does not read reversals they have some sort of alternative system that they use, which is why we state: “Knows the meaning and uses of reversed cards OR can explain an alternate system that contains equivalent information.”

      Hope that answers your question.
      Misha, CTI
      TCBA Executive Director

  • Joanna says:

    Thank you all. I had as much fun writing it. Something that I need to acknowledge here is that Brigit played a critical role of inspiring me through this journey. The opportunities reading for actual clients and her blogs were part of my learning process helping to hone my skills further. And to Daniel’s question, it’s up to you whether or not you read reversed cards. What’s important is that you need to make that decision before you lay your spread. Hope this helps.

  • Kayla says:

    Thanks for the wonderful article! I’ve received CATR and CTR certifications and I’m now working with mentors at ATA and FTN to improve my skills to receive the CPTR certification. It’s a great process and it’s helped me a lot!

    • Joanna says:

      Best of luck Kayla! You’ll find the guidance very useful. And I strongly encourage you to persevere through CPTR. The whole process I feel made me a better, more intuitive reader and on hindsight, it taught me a lot more about myself and how I should be putting my querants’ needs in the forefront of everything I do. I was blessed to have a lot of help and support from the tarot community and I urge you to reach out for as much advice as you could.

  • Daniel says:

    Misha and Joanna thank you so much for responses, it gives me a positive outlook if i ever want to go down this path, i do not use reversed cards in my readings but i do have knowledge of their reversed meanings, i tend to concentrate on the querants question, body language emotions etc the cards do the rest for me. Thank you again, all the best.

    Love and light!


  • Tonja says:

    Hi Joanna,

    Thanks for posting this article. I gained my certification as a CATR earlier this year and intend on taking the exam for the CTR designation by the end of the summer. It has been and continues to be such a special journey to me. I was recently thinking I’d like to partner with a mentor to work with. Based on the information you’ve provided i’ve reached out to the Free Tarot Network. Thanks again and many blessings on your journey.


  • Leigh says:

    What an interesting article, Joanna, and very well written. It’s nice to get an inside look at the complexities of tarot certification. I applaud your dedication. Good Luck to you on your journey!

  • jackie says:

    I need to ask an important question. If someone does a reading on you or a family member without asking is that unethical? If the reading is done on a small child is that crossing the line? I recently had someone do this to (what they thought) have power over me. Is there a board that this person can be reported to? Thanks so much in advnce!

    • Brigit says:

      Jackie, that does sound unethical. You need to request the permission of the person being read on, before performing that reading. If their permissions isn’t there, then the reading shouldn’t go ahead. Of course, there are always grey areas, but in your case, it sounds like the ethical boundaries have been compromised. If the reader is part of an association, you might want to contact that association to discuss your options.

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