Do you know the difference? 

In today’s certification-crazy world, it is important for those of us certified through ICCI to understand the salient differences between certificates and certification. I hope this will help clarify any misunderstandings between the two and serve as an informative explanation that you can use to showcase your valuable credential.

A recent article of note published by The American Society for Training and Development (Knapp & Naughton) tackles the question "Aren’t certificate programs and certification really the same thing?"   


  • A certificate is something earned from a learning event.  The purpose of the learning event is to provide instructions and training so the learner may acquire specific knowledge, skills or competencies in a given area.
  • A certification is a credential awarded that validates learning has already occurred.  A completed certification program is issued by a recognized certifying body in a particular discipline is usually results in conferring an acronym such as CMF, NCC or PMP in recognition of that achievement.

These distinctions are extremely important because the current professional landscape is flooded with many certificate and certification programs. This flood has muddied the waters considerably, confusing both the professional seekers and the constituencies they serve. 

Having achieved a certificate, say, in Neuro-Linguistic Programming in no way certifies the recipient in that discipline. It merely says that the individual has participated in a learning event about NLP. Likewise, receiving a certificate in Career Coaching in no way certifies one to be a Career Coach.

Certification in a particular discipline takes into consideration all learning, experience, skills and competencies acquired that meet a given standard it says to all stakeholders that a professional has achieved a level of competency beyond a learning event - that they have moved beyond learning about the discipline to a much deeper knowledge, experience and skill base and adhere to standards prescribed in that given industry.  

Such it is with certification through ICCI. By being certified through the Institute, your prior learning, in-depth experience and competence in the career management profession is recognized and validated. Unlike learning programs where certificates are earned, ICCI certification cannot be bought.

Additionally, by being certified through ICCI, you have obtained an internationally-recognized certification that is the umbrella certification for the career management industry. This means you don’t have to seek certification in every sub-area of the career management profession. Because ICCI certification is experience and competency-based, demonstrated through a professional portfolio and assessed by leaders in the industry, your expertise in the field is recognized and validated.

You can be assured that you hold a distinguished and select credential with your certification from ICCI.


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