Licensure vs. Certification: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between licensure and certification is that licensure ensures a minimum level of competency to practice in a profession whereas certification recognizes additional skills or areas of expertise.

Before we move to more differences, let’s first understand Licensure and Certification:

  • Licensure: Licensure is a legal obligation that requires individuals to meet certain qualifications and pass specific exams in order to practice in a particular profession or occupation.
  • Certification: Certification is a voluntary process that is granted by a professional organization to individuals who have demonstrated a certain level of expertise in a particular field.

Now, let’s get to Licensure vs Certification:

Major differences between Licensure and Certification

Licensure Certification
Licensure is granted by the state or a governing authority. Certification is granted by professional organizations or associations.
Licensure typically involves passing a standardized exam and meeting certain educational and training requirements. Certification often requires continuing education and professional development programs to maintain a certified status.
Licensure is required for a narrow scope of professions or occupations such as doctors, lawyers, and nurses. Certification is available for a wider range of professions and occupations such as project management, HR, and skilled trades.
Licensure is usually governed by specific rules and laws that dictate how the profession or occupation is practiced. Certification is governed by the professional organizations or associations that grant them.
Licensure usually requires a fee to obtain. Certification also requires a fee but it is generally lower and covers the costs of testing, renewal, and maintenance.

So, these are the main differences between the entities.

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