Certification vs. Certificate
07, July 2017 - By Elizabeth Johnson
One of the most frequently-asked questions that AHLEI staff members receive is, “What’s the difference between certification and a certificate?” So, to assist you and to help avoid confusion, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.
How do you receive it?
Certification: Results from an assessment process
Certificate: Results from an educational assessment process
Who is it for?
Certification: For individuals
Certificate: For individuals
Is professional experience required?
Certification: Typically requires some amount of professional experience
Certificate: Typically earned by a student, not tied to professional experience
How is it awarded?
Certification: Awarded by a third-party, standard-setting organization
Certificate: Awarded by educational programs or institutions
What does it indicate?
Certification: Indicates mastery/competency as measured against a defensible set of standards, usually by application or exam
Certificate: Indicates completion of a course or series of courses with specific focus; is different from a degree granting program
How is it developed?
Certification: Standards set through a defensible, industry wide process (job analysis/role delineation) that results in an outline of required knowledge and skills
Certificate: Course content set a variety of ways (faculty committee; dean; instructor; occasionally through defensible analysis of topic area)
What do you receive upon completion?
Certification: Typically results in a designation to use after one’s name (CHA, CLM, CFBE, CHRM, CLS, CLSD, CMHS, etc.); may result in a document to hang on the wall and a lapel pin to wear
Certificate: Usually listed on a resume detailing education; may issue a document to hang on the wall
Are there ongoing requirements?
Certification: Has on-going requirements in order to maintain; holder must demonstrate he/she continues to meet requirements
Certificate: Is the end result; demonstrates knowledge of course content at the end of a set period in time