How Do Credentials Differ?

There is a great deal of confusion in the marketplace about the various types of credentials, how they differ, and the appropriate use for each. This graphic depicts the elements of certificates, certifications, degrees, and licenses. Select a credential below to see more details, or view this link to see a comparison of all four credentials.

Awarded by
Education and training providers, employers, labor unions, and industry associations
Awarded for
An exam at the end of a training or education course or a one-time assessment
Education/ knowledge/skills
Time to complete
Variable, generally less than 2 year
Time and renewal requirements
Often no time limit, no renewal requirement
Revocation process
Cannot be revoked
CNC Machinist, Zurich Insurance Apprenticeship
Standards for accreditation
ANSI/ASTM E2659-18, a globally recognized American National Standard
* There are many types of certificates. Some examples include: certificates of participation, certificates of achievement, certificates of completion for apprenticeship, and assessment-based certificates. Refer to this graphic for further information on different types of certificates.”
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