Q: I have met many people in the senior care industry that claim to have a certificate in this (enter anything here) or have a certification in that (enter anything here). What is the difference between a certificate and a certification, and how can that help me to determine a person’s level of experience in the field of senior care? Marjorie from Lawrenceville, GA

A:  I would say the majority of the families that I have worked with are “new” to the world of senior options and are typically feeling very apprehensive about their own “lack” of knowledge.  Some experts will present a level of education, title, certification, or a certificate in a related field of study to promote their ability to speak intelligently about the industry. This is not atypical of the senior field – but, as the population ages, the amount of “experts” and care providers will be on the increase.

So, to clarify this claimed expertise, I will attempt to further discuss two words that are used quite interchangeably – but are not the same – Certificate and Certification.

A certificate is typically resulting from an educational process – which is usually a course or a series of courses with a specific focus as decided upon by the particular educational institution offering a certificate. This certificate can be provided to anyone who fulfills the course requirements – whether they are new to the field or experienced professionals in the field.  This is allowed to be placed on a resume as detailed education and deems that a person demonstrates knowledge of the course content at the end of a set period of time when completing the requirements of the certificate.

A certification typically results from an assessment of a person through a third party or standard setting organization. To receive a certification, one typically has to have a certain level of mastery/competency as measured against a defensible set of standards. This assessment of person is typically through an application process proving professional experience, proof of license or degrees held, and/ or provided exam passed. The standards are set by the particular industry and the person has on going requirements to maintain the certification – such as continuing education within the specific certification field. This will allow a person to use a designation after one’s name as evidence of their credentials through a particular organization.

Best of Luck,


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *