IVF is now a routine medical subspecialty. In the early 1980s, IVF was successfully established by clinical teams that incorporated collaboration with research scientists skilled in laboratory culture methods. In the absence of any opportunity for professional training in these methods, the laboratory aspects were subsequently undertaken by personnel from a variety of backgrounds, frequently with experience not specialised for laboratory IVF. As a result of this situation, the scientific aspects were learned either on an "apprenticeship" basis, or by self-education. Since the mid-1990s, assisted reproduction/IVF has experienced a revolution in biotechnology such that its success is even more dependent upon updated scientific knowledge and expertise.

Today's embryologists require a foundation to prepare for and adapt to the new technologies, understand the relevance and application of advances in cell biology and genetics and apply good clinical practice. It is essential that those dedicated to achieving high professional standards should be able to obtain certification that demonstrates their level of expertise and knowledge. The establishment of clinical embryology as a professional status and standards on an international basis has thus become imperative. In line with this, ESHRE’s Executive Committee in 2006 under the guidance of former chairman Arne Sunde set up a group to define a scheme for certification of clinical embryologists. The aim was to certify competence of clinical embryologists working in IVF and to develop a formal recognition for embryologists. This group has been formalised as an ESHRE subcommittee (EmCC, Embryologists’ Certification Committee), working in close collaboration with both the Executive Committee and the SIG-Embryology.

The system provides two levels of certification: one for senior level clinical embryologists and one for clinical embryologists.