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An industry-recognized credential or certification is a verification of an individual’s qualification or competence. They are valued in the labor market and are a validation of knowledge and skill. While many are earned following high school, there are also opportunities to earn these while in high school.

According to ACTE, in 2016-2017 there were 31,286 postsecondary credentials earned by Michigan students. The Michigan Department of Education has identified dozens of credentials, certifications and licenses across various high-demand sectors that can be earned while in high school or beyond. According to Advance CTE, “depending on the type of credential they earn, workers can get a significant wage premium. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time workers with a certification or license earn a median weekly wage that is $268 higher than workers without a certification or license.”

How to Understand Credentials, Certifications and More

Industry-Recognized Certifications: Credentials awarded by a certification body based on an individual demonstrating through an examination process that he or she has acquired the designated knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform a specific job. The examination can be written, oral, or performance-based. Certification is a time-limited credential that is renewed through a re-certification process.

Educational Certificates: Credentials awarded by a training provider or an educational institution based on completion of all requirements for a program of study, including coursework and a test or other performance evaluation. Certificates are typically awarded for life (like degrees). Certificates of attendance or participation in short-term training (e.g., one day) are not in the definitional scope for educational certificates.

Licenses: Credentials awarded by a licensing agency based on pre-determined criteria which may include some combination of degree attainment, certifications, certificates, assessment, apprenticeship programs, or work experience. Licenses are time-limited and must be renewed periodically.

Educational Degrees: Credentials awarded by accredited postsecondary institutions to recognize completion of a pre-determined amount of coursework.

Certificates of Completion of an Apprenticeship: nationally recognized, industry-issued credentials awarded upon completion of a Registered Apprenticeship.

*Source: Advance CTE