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Certifications are earned from a Professional society and, generally, need to be renewed periodically, or may be valid for a specific period of time (e.g. the life-time of the product upon which the individual is certified). As a part of a complete renewal of an individual's certification, it is common for the individual to show evidence of continual learning — often termed continuing education — or earning continuing education units (CEU).

It is important to note that certifications are usually earned from a professional society, not the government. If a demonstration of ability or knowledge is required by law before being allowed to perform a task or job, this is referred to as licensure. In the United States, professional licenses are usually issued by state agencies. The assessment process is often similar, even the same; certification and licensure differ only in terms of legal status.

Certifications are very common in aviation, construction, technology and other industrial sectors, as well as health care and finance. In USA, the Federal Aviation Administration regulates aviator certifications.

The National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA) is a US-based organization which helps certification bodies, primarily in health care and related fields, by providing them with information on the latest trends and issues of concern to practitioners and organizations focused on certification, obtaining licenses, and human resource development. Many members of the Association of Test Publishers (ATP) are also certification organizations.

Types of certifications

There are three general types of certification. Listed in order of development level and portability, they are: corporate (internal), product-specific, and profession-wide.

Corporate, or internal certifications, are made by a corporation or low-stakes organization for internal purposes. For example, a corporation might require a one-day training course for all sales personnel, after which they receive a certificate. While this certificate has limited portability - to other corporations for example - it also is the simplest to develop.

Product-specific certifications are more involved, and are intended to be referenced to a product across all applications. This approach is very prevalent in the information technology (IT) industry, where personnel are certified on a version of software or hardware. This type of certification is portable across locations (for example, different corporations that use that software), but not across other products.

The most general type of certification is profession-wide. In order to apply professional standards, increase the level of practice, and possibly protect the public (though this is also the domain of licensure), a professional organization might establish a certification. This is intended to be portable to all places a certificant might work. Of course, this generalizability increases the cost of such a program; the process to establish a legally defensible assessment of an entire profession is very extensive. An example of this is a certified public accountant, who would not be certified for just one corporation or one piece of accountancy software, but for general work in the profession.

Areas of certification

In accountancy

Accountants are the accountancy and financial experts which are legally certified in different jurisdictions to originally worked only in public practices, selling advice and services to other individuals and businesses, but today in addition many work within private corporations, financial industry and government bodies. There are many professional bodies for accountants throughout the world, some of them are legally recognized in their jurisdictions.

  • British qualified accountants
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (ACMA or FCMA),
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA or FCCA)
  • Chartered Accountant (FCA, CA or ACA)
  • American qualified accountants
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
  • Certification in Control Self Assessment (CCSA)

There are non-statutory accountancy qualifications which are established by the industries, such as:

  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Chartered Cost Accountant (CCA) designations from the American Academy of Financial Management (AAFM)
  • Certified Fraud Examiner by the ACFE

In aviation

Aviators (Aviation Pilots) are certified through theoretical and in-flight examinations. Requirements for certifications are quite equal in most countries and regulated by each National Aviation Authority. The existing certificates or pilot licenses are:

  • Private pilot (PPL)
  • Commercial pilot (CPL)
  • Airline Transport Pilot (ATPL)

Licensing in these categories require not only examinations but also a minimum of flight hours. All categories are available for Fixed Wing Aircraft (airplanes) and Rotatory Wing Aircraft (helicopters). Within each category, aviators may also obtain certifications in:

  • Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)
  • Multiengine aircraft
  • Turbojet Engines
  • Jet Engines
  • Experimental aircraft
  • Amphibious aircraft
  • Seaplanes

Usually, aviators also must be certified in their log books for the type and model of aircraft they are allowed to fly. Currency checks are obligatory as well as regular medical check ups with a frequency of 6 months, 12 months, or 36 months depending on the type of flying permitted. An aviator can only fly if holding:

  • A valid pilot license
  • A valid medical certificate
  • Valid certifications for the type of aircraft and type of flight.

In business

  • Institute of Directors (IoD) administers the Chartered Director (CDir)
  • Chartered Management Institute (CMI) administers the Chartered Manager (CMgr)
  • Institute of Management Consultancy (IMC) administers the Certified Management Consultant (CMC)
  • Better Business Bureau and others administer Small Business Certification
  • International Charter
  • Certified Association Executive
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Institute of Certified E-Commerce Consultants (ICECC) Board Certifications & Designations ---- Certified E-Business Consultant(CEC), Certified Software Analyst, Project manager E-Business, Certified E-Marketing Analyst [1](ICECC)
  • Certified International Investment Analyst
  • Commodity Trading Advisor (CTA)
  • RABQSA International Quality System Auditor, Environment System Auditor, HACCAP Inspector, 6 Sigma Impelementor, Quality Management Consultant and more [2]
  • Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM)
  • American Academy of Financial Management (AAFM)
  • American Society for Quality (ASQ) Quality Engineer, Quality Manager, Quality Auditor, Software Quality Engineer, Reliability, Technician, Six Sigma and more
  • American Institute for Philanthropic Studies administers the Certified Specialist in Planned Giving (CSPG) [3]
  • Association of Professionals in Business Management (APBM) administers the Certified Business Manager (CBM) and Certified Associate Business Manager (CABM) professional designations. [4]
  • Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) is administered by the Universal Accreditation Board.
  • The National Property Management Association (NPMA) certifies Property Managers in durable, moveable and fixed asset management. This is not for buildings, real estate, or any other type of housing management. This certificaiton is for inventory, logistic, acquisition, warehouse, tracking types of personnel.
  • The International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) oversees a COP (Certified Outsourcing Professional) designation. To become a Certified Outsourcing Professional (COP) an individual must demonstrate both the practical experience and knowledge it takes to successfully lead an outsourcing initiative across its strategic, implementation and management phases. They must complete an application that demonstrates mastery of all categories of IAOP's Outsourcing Professional Standards..

In computer technology

Certification is often used in the professions of software engineering and information technology.

In economic development

The International Economic Development Council, IEDC,[1] based in Washington, D.C. recognizes economic developers around the world who have achieved a level of excellence in their understanding of the tools and programs of economic development. In order to become a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) one must sit through the exam and fulfill a number of requirements [[2]]

In language learning and teaching

TESOL is a large field of employment with widely varying degrees of regulation. Most provision world-wide is through the state school system of each individual country, and as such the instructors tend to be trained primary or secondary school teachers who are native speakers of the language of their pupils, not English. Though native speakers of English have been working in non-English speaking countries in this capacity for years, it was not until the last twenty-five years or so that there was any wide-spread focus on training particularly for this field. Previously, workers in this sort of job were anyone from backpackers hoping to earn some extra travel money to well-educated professionals in other fields doing volunteer work, or retired people. These sort of people are certainly still to be found, but there are many who consider TESOL their main profession.

One of the problems facing these full time teachers is the fact that there is no international governing body for the certification or licenture of English language teachers. However, Cambridge University and its subsidiary body UCLES, are pioneers in trying to get some degree of accountability and quality control to consumers of English courses, through their CELTA and DELTA programs. Trinity College, London has roughly equivalent programs, the CertTESOL and the LTCL DipTESOL. They offer initial certificates in teaching, in which candidates are trained in language awareness and classroom techniques and given a chance to practise teaching and receive feedback on this. Both institutions have as a follow-up a professional diploma, usually taken after a year or two in the field. Although the initial certificate is available to anyone with a high school education, the diploma is meant to be a post-graduate qualification and in fact can be incorporated into a Master's degree program.

In legal affairs

An increasing number of lawyers are choosing to be recognized as having special knowledge and experience by becoming certified specialists in certain fields of law. According to the American Bar Association, a lawyer who is a certified specialist has been recognized by an independent professional certifying organization as having an enhanced level of skill and expertise, as well as substantial involvement in an established legal specialty. These organizations require a lawyer to demonstrate special training, experience and knowledge to ensure that the lawyer's recognition as a certified specialist is meaningful and reliable. Lawyer conduct with regard to specialty certification is regulated by the states.

In logistics & transport

Logistician is the Profession in the logistics & transport sectors, including sea, air, land and rail modes. Professional qualification for logisticians usually carry post-nominal letters. Common examples include:

  • CPIM/CSCP conferred by the Association for Operations Management (APICS),
  • FCILT/CMILT conferred by The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT),
  • EJLog/ESLog/EMLog conferred by the European Logistics Association (ELA),
  • CML/CPL conferred by the International Society of Logistics (SOLE),
  • JrLog/Log/SrLog conferred by the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing (CFLP),
  • FHKLA/MHKLA conferred by the Hong Kong Logistics Association (HKLA),
  • PLS/CTL/DLP conferred by the American Society of Transportation & Logistics (AST&L)

In project management

Certification is of significant importance in the project management (PM) industry. Certification refers to the evaluation and recognition of the skills, knowledge, and/or competence of a practitioner in the field.

Project management certifications come in a variety of flavors:

  • Competence-based programs where an individual must provide evidence of actual, on-the-job performance.
  • Knowledge-based programs where an individual must pass an exam.
  • Experience-based programs where an individual must provide evidence of training or education in the field.

PM organisations which run certification programmes include:

  • Association for Project Management (APM)
  • Project Management Institute (PMI)
  • International Project Management Association (IPMA)

In security

  • ASIS International administers the Certified Protection Professional - Board Certified in Security Management (CPP)
  • ASIS International administers the Physical Security Professional, Board Certified (PSP)
  • ASIS International administers the Professional Certified Investigator, Board Certified (PCI)
  • Association of Certified Fraud Examiners administers the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
  • International Foundation of Protection Officers administers the Certified Protection Officer (CPO)

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