- Date: 1538
- 1 : a restriction in meaning or application : a limiting modification <this statement stands without qualification>
- 2 a obsolete : nature
- b archaic : characteristic
- 3 a : a quality or skill that fits a person (as for an office) <the applicant with the best qualifications>
- b : a condition or standard that must be complied with (as for the attainment of a privilege) <a qualification for membership>
Professional certification, trade certification, or professional designation, often called simply certification or qualification, is a designation earned by a person to assure qualification to perform a job or task. Many certifications are used as post-nominal letters indicating an earned privilege from an oversight professional body acting to safeguard the public interest.
Certifications are earned from a Professional society and, in general, must be renewed periodically, or may be valid for a specific period of time (e.g., the life-time of the product upon which the individual is certified). As a part of a complete renewal of an individual's certification, it is common for the individual to show evidence of continued learning — often termed continuing education — or earning continuing education units (CEU).
Powerful forces—-the professionals themselves—-work to keep certification substantial and worthwhile. Most certification programs are created, sponsored, or affiliated with professional associations and trade organizations interested in raising standards. Even those programs completely independent from membership organizations enjoy association support and endorsement...
The growth of certification programs is also a reaction to the changing employment market. Certifications are portable, since they do not depend on one company's definition of a certain job. Certification stands about the resume and the professional reference by being an impartial, third-party endorsement of an individual's professional knowledge and experience. Certification allows individuals to participate in their own professional destiny.
It is important to note that certifications are usually earned from a professional society or educational institute, not the government. If a demonstration of ability or knowledge is required by law before being allowed to perform a task or job, this is referred to as licensure. In the United States, professional licenses are usually issued by state agencies. The assessment process is often similar, even the same; certification and licensure differ only in terms of legal status.
Certifications are very common in aviation, construction, technology, and other industrial sectors, as well as health care, business and finance. In USA, the Federal Aviation Administration regulates aviator certifications.
The National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA) is a US-based organization that helps certification bodies, primarily in healthcare and related fields, by providing them with information on the latest trends and issues of concern to practitioners and organizations focused on certification, obtaining licenses, and human resource development. Many members of the Association of Test Publishers (ATP) are also certification organizations.