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Certificate vs. Certification: What’s the Difference?

According to the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), certificate programs and certification programs are designed to meet different needs. Although the terms sound similar, they are not interchangeable. The following table from their website lists the main differences between the two programs. The BCMTMS™ credential is a Certification Program as outlined in the right column in the table below.

Certificate Program
Professional or Personnel Certification Program
PURPOSE: Build capacity and recognition of a specialty area of practice or set of skillsPURPOSE: Recognize professionals who meet established knowledge, skills, or competencies
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 competenciesGoal 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 eventAssessment is best used to assure baseline competencies and to differentiate professionals; independent of a specific learning event
Assessment content may be narrower in scopeAssessment 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 outcomesAwards designations to recognize achievement
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