The Value of Certification
Certification is essentially the process of assuring the public that a specified quality or standard has been achieved or exceeded. Certification is a method used as am informal way all around us nearly every day; for example: when a product has the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, it means that the item has been attested to meet the standard set for it. When an individual is professional certified or registered the implied innuendo is that person has met professional standards and is educationally prepared and competent to practice within their scope of practice for the profession.
The professional certification process utilizes a formal activities to identify and acknowledge individuals who have met an accepted pre-determined standard. This standard includes specific educational preparation, competency in clinical practice and an examination of the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform the job. When an individual meets the standard by successfully passing a certification examination, he or she receives specific certification from a recognized certifying agency.
Professional certification is a voluntary process by which a non-governmental professional organization grants recognition to an individual who has met certain qualifications. It is a credential which attests that the individual has demonstrated a certain level of mastery of a specific body of knowledge and clinical skills within the relevant field of practice. Certification should not be confused with either licensing or accreditation. While each involves some type of evaluation and the awarding of some type of recognition, they are quite different from one another and the terms should not be used interchangeably.
The credibility, validity and integrity of the certifying agency determines whether the agency’s certification means anything to the public, and therefore, ultimately, its value. Accordingly, certification agencies may seek out recognition by an outside agency that will, in turn, attest to the certifying agency as having met pre-determined standards. Generally, these standards involve the qualification requirements to take the exam, whether the exam meets accepted psychometric standards for exam development, the administration of the examination, methods of scoring the test results, how the agency is administered, and if its rules are fair.