A Guide To Certificates, Certifications, and Licenses

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Without a doubt, good education helps people find good jobs. In a market crowded with graduates in different fields, having educational credentials shows hiring managers that you have the background, skills, and knowledge required to do the job well.

When looking for education options, note that there are different credentials one can get other than a degree. Here are three notable credentials that get confused with each other.


Certificates get awarded by vocational schools and colleges. The main beneficiaries are students who may have completed the coursework of a certificate program. This happens within a shorter time frame than with academic degrees. Even though students will need to earn grades to get a certificate, they do not have to pass any serious exams.

As it is with college majors, the certificates earned are peculiar to the institutions where they are earned. You may get a graduate or undergraduate certification, depending on which program you go for. Even though certificates are some form of academic credential, they aren’t academic degrees.

Some examples include the Physical Therapy Assistant Certificate and the Certificate in Machine Learning.


Even though certificates and certifications sound alike, they aren’t the same. Certifications get awarded by companies, professional associations, and independent organizations. Certifications represent a standardized credential that certifies an individual for work in a particular industry. Certifications often include both exam and education requirements.

Even though certifications are applicable for industry standards, they aren’t often compulsory for work in certain fields. However, some certifications may be needed for professional development. There are certain industries in which you can get jobs without such certifications.

The certification’s quality and strength depend on the authority, credibility, and standard of the organization awarding it. Some certifications are very hard to get, while others are less difficult. Some examples include Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and Certified Public Accountant (CPA).


Licenses get issued by state governments after a professional has met exam and educational requirements. There is an added rule to some licenses, such as completing a certain number of work hours. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, and some states share similarities. Some examples of licenses include Licensed Cosmetology and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

What Is the Use Of These Credentials?

Certifications have several uses, such as developing a special skill or the provision of job-specific training for roles, such as a dental hygienist. Certificates add strong skills to your resume, but they aren’t enough to find work in some industries.

Also, in certain industries, certifications help you do business. Licenses get issued by government agencies and are compulsory in the fields where they are needed. Before you seek a license, make sure you meet the exam and educational requirements.

Certification vs. Certificate

Certificate programs do not result in certifications, but they prepare students for certain careers. Sometimes, certificate programs serve as exam preparation for certain professional certifications. Certification is proof that you have met the industry standard or passed an exam, while the certificate is proof of education.

License vs. Certification

Licenses and certifications come after degrees and certifications. You need the education to be able to prepare for a certification exam. You need education and qualification exams to get a professional license.

Concluding Thoughts

Certificates, licenses, and certifications all have their unique importance. Knowing how each one affects your career and educational aspirations will better guide you on the right path.

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