Credentialing and certification are terms that are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinct difference between them. Credentialing is the process of verifying an individual's qualifications to perform a certain job or task. It is usually done by organizations such as educational institutions and employers in order to ensure that the person they hire has the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to do the job. Certification, on the other hand, is a program or certificate given by a third-party organization that indicates an individual has met certain criteria within a field or specialty. Certified individuals are granted special privileges such as access to exclusive professional networks or higher pay grades. Certification also serves as a way for employers and organizations to recognize an individual's expertise in a particular area. In sum, credentialing verifies that an individual is qualified for a job while certification acknowledges and rewards the mastery of certain skills or knowledge within a field.
Examples of certification organizations are the Project Management Institute (PMI) and Microsoft. PMI offers project management certifications that signify a higher level of expertise in the field of project management. Similarly, Microsoft awards certifications to individuals who demonstrate proficiency in their Microsoft products.
In contrast, examples of credentialing organizations are academic institutions or employers. Academic institutions grant credentials such as diplomas and degrees to students who have met the requirements of their courses. Employers also credential applicants by verifying their qualifications, including educational background and experience.
Credentialing and certification both attest to an individual's knowledge or experience in a particular field, but they serve different purposes. Certification acknowledges mastery in a certain area while credentialing verifies an individual's qualifications for a job. Therefore, it is important to understand the distinction between the two in order to apply for the right program or position.