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New Workcred Video Demystifies Different Types of Credentials


Learn the Difference Between Certifications, Certificates, and Licenses

In a new Workcred video, "Differing Types of Workplace Credentials," executive director Roy Swift, Ph.D., illuminates various types of credentials - including certifications, certificates, and licenses - to help people understand how they differ, and appropriate uses for each.

"Did you know that according to a recent study, there are more than 738,000 workforce credentials in the United States?," Dr. Swift asks in the video. "It's no wonder consumers are confused about what credentials to choose, what the different types of credentials are, and how they differ." He explains that the word "credential" is frequently confused with "certification" and "certificate," but it is actually an umbrella term that encompasses both and other types of credentials.

Certifications are generally created for high-stakes examinations in areas such as health, safety, and finance where attainment of a certification is often required in order to obtain a specific job or position. Certifications are based on a scientific study of the job or practice, and an examination is used as a third-party, independent judgement that the individual has the competencies required. Notably, certifications are time limited and include recertification. Procedures are also in place to revoke the certification for incompetence or unethical behavior.

Certificates, on the other hand, are generally associated with training or educational courses, and are "good for life," meaning they carry no time limit or renewal requirement. An exam at the end of the training or educational course measures the knowledge and skills learned, but a certificate cannot be revoked for reasons of incompetence or unethical behavior.

Licenses are awarded by government agencies for meeting requirements of an occupation, and have legal ramifications associated with them.

The video is the latest of many resources that Workcred has created for its Knowledge Center to increase understanding of the credentialing system. Since its launch in 2014, Workcred has been working to connect and educate stakeholders to create a more integrated and effective credentialing system. Workcred's mission is to strengthen workforce quality by improving the credentialing system, ensuring its ongoing relevance, and preparing employers, workers, educators, and governments to use it effectively.

Learn more specifics about how credentials work by watching the video, "Differing Types of Workplace Credentials" or visit


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


[email protected]