A certification documents the competence of an individual on a set of predetermined qualifications or performance standards of an industry group, agency, or association.
A certification is usually attained through the successful completion of an assessment process. This assessment can be:
- a written or computer-based examination,
- practical demonstration of a capability (e.g., fabrication of a metal part),
- compilation of a record of work-related experiences,
- or other means.
A certification is typically affirmed by a credential from a certifying organization. Such credentials usually take the form of a paper certificate, pocket or wallet card, or shoulder or pocket patch. Credentialing frequently also includes listing the recipient in a central registry maintained by the organization.
Certifications are voluntary and allow individuals to benchmark their knowledge and skill competencies for designated roles, trades, occupations, or professions. Certifications also are portable, permitting individuals to present evidence of these qualifications to employers - throughout the United States - in a language that industry understands.
It is important to research your field and/or your employer's expectations before undertaking a certification. There are some third-party verifications on certifying organizations.
The terms certification and licensure are frequently used interchangeably. For our purposes, certification differs from licensure in that occupational licenses are typically issued by a government entity and are required before an individual may work or practice in a particular occupation or profession (e.g. Licensed Practical Nurse).
For a certification to be included here, it must require either education, training, work experience, or examination; and must not be a state-required license, although it may lead to a license.
Click on an industry occupation to view its certifications.