Certification VS Certificate

Certification and certificate are distinct terms in the context of education or training.

A certificate reflects the completion of a training and/or education program and the accomplishment of intended learning outcomes. Certificates are issued for life or for a specific time period. They are not generally revoked, which means they do not require ongoing maintenance or renewal.

A certification reflects attainment of established criteria for proficiency or competency in a profession or occupation and is granted upon an assessment of an individual’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. Certification is valid for a specific time period. A certification program has an ongoing requirement to maintain proficiency or competency and can be revoked if ongoing requirements are not met.


Assessment-based Certificate Program Professional or Personnel Certification Program
Provides instruction and training (non-degree granting) Assesses knowledge, skills, and/or competencies previously acquired
Goal is for participants to acquire specific knowledge, skills, and/or competencies Goal is to validate the participant’s competency through a conformity assessment system
Assessment is used to evaluate mastery of the intended learning outcomes; linked directly to the learning event Assessment is best used to assure baseline competencies and to differentiate professionals; independent of a specific learning event
Assessment content may be narrower in scope Assessment content is usually broad in scope
Awards a certificate to recognize mastery of the specific learning outcomes; it is NOT a certificate of attendance or participation, which is awarded to individuals who have attended or participated in a course or training program but did not have to demonstrate mastery of the intended learning outcomes Awards designations to recognize achievement

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