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What is Credentialing?

Credentialing has two purposes. First, it continues to professionalize the enlisted force by providing up-to-date industry-recognized credentials in an airman’s AF job. Second, it provides a way for airmen to prepare for civilian life by ensuring that they are ready for work in the civilian sector. There are many aspects to credentialing including certifications and licenses. In addition, there a variety of agencies that provide credentialing. Some are at the National level while others are State or industry driven. Credentialing is important because:

  • Federal, state, or local law may require specific credentials to legally perform some jobs.
  • Employers may choose to hire only employees who have certain credentials, or to pay those employees more.
  • Credentials may improve an employee's prospects for promotion.
  • Credentialed Service Members demonstrate to prospective civilian employers that their skills are on par with their civilian peers.
  • Civilian credentialing can contribute to military career development, and may be accepted for self-development requirements and in performance evaluations.

The two basic types of credentials are:

  • Licensure – Governmental agencies—federal, state, or local—grant licenses to individuals to practice a specific occupation, such as a medical license for doctors. State or federal laws or regulations define the standards that individuals must meet to become licensed. Licenses are typically mandatory.
  • Certification – Non-governmental agencies, associations, and even private sector companies may grant certifications to individuals who meet predetermined qualifications. These qualifications are generally set by professional associations (for example, National Commission for Certification of Crane Operators) or by industry and product-related organizations (for example, Novell Certified Engineer). Certification is typically an optional credential, although some state licensure boards and some employers may require certification. For many occupations, more than one organization may offer certifications.

Basic Requirements for attaining a credential

Credentialing boards determine the requirements for licensure and certification. Typically they require a combination of the following:

  • Education
  • Training
  • Work or professional experience
  • Examinations
  • Other unique job-related requirements

For some credentials, boards may have requirements related to:

  • Residency
  • How recently the training or experience took place
  • Periodic renewal, typically every one to three years
  • Continuing education requirements or reexamination requirements associated with renewal

State-Specific Requirements

While most certifications are national (have the same requirements in every state), requirements for occupational licenses vary by state. Not all states license the same occupations and for those that do, requirements can differ substantially. If you hold a license in one state but plan to relocate to another state, you need to find out if that state requires a license for your occupation and if it recognizes your license.

Some states will give consideration to individuals licensed in another state. For example the licensing board may:

  • Recognize licenses granted by other states as equivalent, called “reciprocity.”
  • Issue a license based on the individual having met similar requirements out-of-state, called “endorsement” or “license by credentials.”
  • Credit equivalent out-of-state training, education, and examinations.

Even if a state recognizes another’s license, airmen may still need to take an exam or pay a fee. Check with the state licensing board to find out more about the specific requirements.

More information on state licensing board contact information can be obtained from the “Licensed Occupations” section of the U.S. Department of Labor’s America’s Career Information Network.

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