Types of Certification
It is recognised that there are 3 general types of certification.
These types of certification, in order of their development level and portability, are:
Corporate or internal certifications are made by a corporation or organisation for internal purposes. For example, a corporation might require all new staff to undertake a half day induction training course at the commencement of employment to ensure they are aware of the company specific Occupational Health and Safety policies and procedures. After completion of this training they may be required to take a short written or verbal test to demonstrate their acquired level of knowledge and understanding. The employee then may receive a certificate that they have to provide to their immediate supervisor before they are permitted to start work.
This type of certificate is usually the simplest to develop but generally has limited portability to other corporations because the policies and procedures for OH&S vary from organisation to organisation.
Product-specific certifications are generally more complex because they are intended to be referenced to a product across all applications.
This approach is very prevalent in the information technology (IT) industry, where personnel are certified on a version of software or hardware. This type of certification is portable across locations (for example, different corporations that use that software), but not across other products.
The most general type of certification is profession-wide. In order to apply professional standards, increase the level of practice, and possibly protect the public (though this is also the domain of licensure), a professional organisation might establish a certification. This is intended to be portable to all places a certificant might work. Of course, this generalisation increases the cost of such a program; the process to establish a legally defensible assessment of an entire profession is very extensive. An example of this is a certified public accountant, who would not be certified for just one corporation or one piece of accountancy software but for general work in the profession.
Professional certification, trade certification, or professional designation, is more generally referred to as certification or qualification, and is earned by a person to assure that he/she is qualified to perform a job or task.
There are two general types of professional certification: some are valid for lifetime, once the exam is passed. Others have to be recertified again after a certain period of time. Also, certifications can differ within a profession by the level or specific area of expertise they refer to. For example, in IT Industry there are different certifications available for Software Tester, Project Manager, and Developer. Similarly, the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology offers three certifications in the same profession, but with increasing complexity.
Certification does not refer to the state of legally being able to practice or work in a profession. That is licensure. Usually, licensure is administered by a governmental entity for public protection purposes and certification by a professional association.
The other most common type of certification in modern society is product certification. This refers to processes intended to determine if a product meets minimum standards, similar to quality assurance.