Certification Vs Certificate. What's The Difference?

Have you come across this question? “I just completed a program on a specialty area of my profession, can I use the word “certified” as part of my title for such specialty?



To assist our audience in understanding and avoiding confusion regarding this topic, let’s discuss in depth the difference between certification or being certified, and a certificate granted for the completion of a program that issues a certificate.

What is Certification: 

Certification is the additional testing that qualified professionals undertake on a regular basis to validate their competencies and experience.  Certification is important because it provides ongoing validation of specialty knowledge, skills, and experience. 

What Certification Means:

Certification demonstrates the competencies required by a national or international board that oversees the certification program. 

The professional must demonstrate the competencies required by undertaking an initial examination and further examinations every few years or by developing a portfolio.

 Certification provides ongoing validation, it supports continuing education and up-to-date skills.   

What is a Certificate: 

A certificate results from an educational process for newcomers and experienced professionals. It is awarded by educational programs or institutions often for-profit. It usually indicates the completion of a course or series of courses with a specific focus or specialty. The content of the education is determined by the specific provider or institution. 

Disclaimer: This information is provided in an attempt to heighten sensitivity, increase awareness, and enhance judgments on this topic. We encourage our audience to contact their legal advisor and regulatory body to learn more. CompanyOn does not represent or speak on behalf of any regulatory body. 

At CompanyOn, we’re committed to supporting our community of solo practitioners, no matter where they are in pursuing professional independence. If you are interested in a particular topic you would like us to discuss, please let us know at [email protected].

Related Resources:

British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives

College of Nurse of Ontario

College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta

College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta

College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba

College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Manitoba

Canadian Nurses Association

Canadian Nurses Protective Society

Canadian Association of Foot Care Nurses

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