There seem to be regular misunderstandings between words and their meanings. The words ‘certified’, ‘certificate’, and ‘certification’ are words I see regularly misused, especially in requests for proposals, LinkedIn profiles, and resumes. Unfortunately, as with so much in the English language, there are no easy boxes to put these in, but the differences are really important.
One of the things I regularly see is in reference to something like the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP). Far too often, RFPs request personnel who are ‘HSEEP certified’. There is no certification for HSEEP. To be certified, according to Oxford, means that someone is ‘officially recognized as possessing certain qualifications or meeting certain standards’. People who complete HSEEP training are provided with a certificate of completion. A certificate of completion is simply documentation given by a training provider indicating that someone has completed the requirements of a course (attendance, participation, maybe an exam), but is not intended to speak to their qualifications, therefore it is not a certification.
Certifications are credentials that should be provided by independent bodies indicating that someone has met a certain slate of standards. To be certified in something digs deeper. I am a Certified Emergency Disaster Professional (CEDP), which is a credential provided by the International Board for Certification Services and Management (IBFCSM). To become certified I had to demonstrate experience, education, and competence; and I must affirm continued competence through continuing education.
Colleges also have certificate programs, such as the one I’ve helped develop and have recently started teaching for Herkimer College. A certificate program is a specific type of academic program with a more concise set of requirements compared to a degree program.
If you are writing RFPs, developing your LinkedIn profile, or updating your resume, please be sure to properly represent credentials and qualifications.
© 2022 Tim Riecker, CEDP