Certificate vs Certification
Often the question is asked, "What's the difference between earning a certificate and certification?" To clarify the distinction between certificate and certification a comparison chart has been provided below.
|Results from an educational process.
||Results from an assessment process.
|For both newcomers and experienced professionals alike.
||Typically requires some amount of professional experience
|Awarded by educational programs or institutions.
||Awarded by a third party, standard-setting organization.
|Indicates completion of a course or series of courses with specific focus; is different than a degree granting program.
||Indicates mastery/competency as measured against a defensible set of standards, usually by application or exam.
|Course content set a variety of ways (faculty committee; dean; instructor; occasionally through defensible analysis of topic area).
||Standards set through a defensible, industry-wide process (job analysis/role delineation that results in an outline of required knowledge and skills).
|Usually listed on a resume detailing education; may issues a document to hang on the wall.
||Typically results in a designation to use after one's name (C.P.H., C.H.E.S.); may result in a document to hang or keep in a wallet.
|Is the end result; demonstrates knowledge of course content at the end of a set period in time.
||Has on going requirements in order to maintain; holder must demonstrate he/she continues to meet requirements. C.E.U.'s are continuing education units. For example, RN's and other allied health professionals are required to complete annual C.E.U.'s to keep their licensure.
|Provides the basis and gateway for achieving a degree.
||No relationship with attaining higher education or degree.
The terms certification and credentials and designation are also often confused or used incorrectly.
- Credentials attest to someone's knowledge or authority. Credentials can be a degree earned, e.g., M.P.H. and/or a list of published papers.
- Certification is a process that results in credentials.
- A designation simply refers to the letters someone uses after their name (M.D., Ph.D., C.P.A.).