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Working Definitions of Non-Degree Credentials

GEMEnA has developed the following working definitions of industry-recognized certifications, occupational licenses, and educational certificates. To maintain consistency with federal statistical data, GEMEnA encourages those who collect information on the attainment of these credentials to align such collections with these definitions. To the extent that these definitions are used as the basis for legislation, regulation, accountability systems, and administrative data systems, users will be able to compare results to nationally-representative data.

Certification: A credential awarded by a certification body based on an individual demonstrating through an examination process that he or she has acquired the designated knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform a specific job. The examination can be either written, oral, or performance-based. Certification is a time-limited credential that is renewed through a recertification process.

License: A credential awarded by a government agency that constitutes legal authority to do a specific job. Licenses are based on some combination of degree or certificate attainment, certifications, assessments, or work experience; are time-limited; and must be renewed periodically.

Educational certificate: A credential awarded by an educational institution based on completion of all requirements for a program of study, including coursework and test or other performance evaluations. Certificates are typically awarded for life (like a degree). Certificates of attendance or participation in a short-term training (e.g., 1 day) are not in the definitional scope for educational certificates.