20+ Difference between Certification And Licensure (Explained)

In the realms of testing and professional practice, certification and licensing are two terms that are often confused with one another. Consequently, they may be understood differently depending on the context.

In addition, they are distinct from one another even though they often complement one another or come in sequential order. Health care, engineering, law practice, and accounting are just a few examples of fields that often need formal training and authorization from the government.

Comparison Between Certification And Licensure

Issued byIn many cases, certification is not awarded by a government body but rather by a private agency, company, or organization. Two excellent examples of this type of board are the boards that regulate the practice of dentistry and registered nurses, respectively.On the other hand, to get a license, one must first acquire it through an organization or agency that is linked with the government.
AuthorityMost of the time, certification will originate from a private organization rather than a public one. One example would be a non-profit organization recognized as an expert in a given field, such as a nursing association.Physicians, nurses, or other healthcare vocation occupations generally receive a state or federal government license. Although a government may also issue certificates, licenses are nearly never issued by regulatory bodies that are not part of the government.
RequirementWeb development tools and techniques are not complicated to learn and are easier to start with. Web developers generally create and work in developing client-server architectures. Web developers generally create and work in developing client-server architectures.A thorough and really in-depth understanding of methodologies, philosophies, and tools that make good software is required. Web developers generally create and work in developing client-server architectures. Web developers generally create and work in developing client-server architectures.
PurposeCertification in any field is optional; therefore, if you don’t have it, you may still run your firm as long as you have the right licenses. But if your competitors aren’t certified in the same areas, you may have a better chance of winning bids thanks to your certifications.Obtaining one of these credentials is required by law, and various government departments and organizations provide it. Our licensing specialists are here to answer any questions you may have about obtaining a business license, including what kind of licenses your company needs, how to apply for a license, and how often licenses must be renewed.

Major Differences Between Certification And Licensure

What exactly is Certification?

Certification is a written assurance, permission, or official representation of an act, event, or legal formality.

Depending on the profession and regulation, the phrase may also refer to a non-governmental corporation, institution, or organization recognizing persons who meet established standards. The institution, such as a medical school or CPA college, sets the criteria. Voluntary Certification is not required to perform a profession. 

Key Differences: Certification

  • This credential may be earned in various medical, legal, and business fields. 
  • The requirements that one must fulfill to be qualified for the certification change are based on the area of specialization in their work.
  • Issued by commercial or non-governmental organizations or institutions and by the government under specific situations.
  • The pursuit of certification is in no way required in any capacity.
  • Certifications in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and First Aid on top of the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential (from the American Red Cross).

What exactly is Licensure?

The term “licensure” refers to the process by which an individual receives official approval to practice a specific profession or operate a particular type of business.

It can also refer to the formal procedure by which a government agency authorizes citizens to engage in a particular line of work. This is often done by confirming that the candidates have completed an appropriate educational program.

Key Differences: Licensure

  • A government agency grants an obligatory certification to recognize its holders as legally licensed professionals in their respective fields.
  • Those who are qualified to practice their profession lawfully are referred to as “legally licensed professionals” in this context.
  • It may only be granted by an institution, organization, or entity of some type that is associated with the government.
  • It is necessary to get a license.
  • In addition to Licensed Professional Counselor (PLC) status, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) status is also required (LCPC)

Contrast Between Certification And Licensure


  • Certification- The term “certification” is often used in the context of the business sector to describe a non-mandatory badge of accomplishment that proves to customers, clients, and potential employers that the bearer has shown competency in a certain field.

    Opportunities to obtain professional Certification are available in various fields, including the medical, legal, and financial industries.
  • Licensure- On the other hand, a license is a legally binding document that validates the holder’s position as a qualified professional in a certain area.

    This document is granted by a specified government agency or body and is issued by the government itself. The person with this certificate has shown that they are qualified to promote themselves to others as an expert on their study topic.


  • Certification– Because businesses and other professional institutions are allowed to establish their own standards for certification renewal, the process of keeping a certification current is subject to a significant level of variety.

    Several certifications may be kept current, provided that the information being supplied is accurate.
  • Licensure- Although the guidelines for renewing a license might vary from state to state, most states follow a procedure that is either annually or biannually repeated.

    Before the process can be finished, you will typically be required to submit a renewal application, pay a renewal fee, and provide evidence that you have satisfied any criteria regarding continuing education. Before the procedure can be finished, you may be asked to provide evidence that you have met any criteria regarding continuing education.


  • Certification- A professional who has been awarded a certification has demonstrated to the general public, as well as to potential clients, customers, and members of the general public, that they have attained the standards that have been set for their area of expertise or profession. This can help attract potential clients, customers, and members of the general public.
  • Licensure- On the other hand, licensing is granted to establish a legally enforceable definition of which individuals are permitted to use the title of a licensed professional within a certain sector and industry.

    This definition is provided to protect the public from unqualified individuals. This safeguards the general public from those not meeting the requirements. This is done to ensure everyone in the general populace stays safe.


  • Certification- Certificates risk becoming useless or obsolete when best practices in an industry shift and new technologies are developed.

    Check with the various organizations so that you can maintain your current level of credentialing. In the future, you could learn that you must complete more training to keep your certification.
  • Licensure- Continuing education is often required in architecture, engineering, and construction professions. Because of the rapid pace at which industries evolve, it is essential for company owners and staff to keep abreast of new developments and be knowledgeable about industry standards.

    Your secretary of state may provide you with information on the criteria for your continuing education and the locations where you can earn credits toward satisfying those needs.


  • Certification- Certification is nearly always done voluntarily, meaning getting it is not often required to operate in a certain field. This is because Certification is almost always done voluntarily.

    This is because Certification is virtually never carried out on any basis other than one that is voluntary. Again, this is because Certification is nearly never carried out.
  • Licensure- On the other side, acquiring a license is required, and until you do so, you won’t be allowed to work in some sectors, such as the healthcare industry. If you don’t have a license, you won’t be able to work in certain fields.

    If you don’t have the right Certification, then you won’t be able to get work in such fields. Some occupations need licenses, and if you don’t have one, you won’t be able to be employed for such employment.


  • Certification- The Illinois Board of Examiners (ILBOE) requires anybody who wishes to become a certified public accountant to take and pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam and the Ethics Examination administered by the AICPA.

    When this occurs, the applicant will be given a certificate number by the ILBOE; nevertheless, they will not really be licensed until the number reaches its end of validity.
  • Licensure- The board requires that candidates pass the AICPA Ethics examination and all four sections of the Uniform CPA exam to be certified as a public accountant.

    In addition to this, each person must have the certificate number that ILBOE issues. Before the IDFPR issues a license number, applicants must provide the organization with all required documentation and fulfill all of the criteria for licensure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you’re wondering, “What’s the difference between a license and a permit?”

While the government grants both licenses and permits, they serve distinct purposes. A general contractor, for instance, may legally do business thanks to their contractor’s license.

However, each construction project still requires the contractor’s permission from the relevant authorities.

Are certificates valuable?

You definitely have financial goals in mind, one of which is to increase the amount of money you bring in each month.

There is evidence in the form of statistics that points to a link existing between the acquisition of certifications, the improvement of one’s abilities, and the achievement of bigger salary rises.

Can certifications earn you a job?

Earning a certificate might help you land a job in the industry of your choice or move up the ranks of your current employer.

You might also get a certificate to augment your education, prepare yourself for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or both. Certain occupations and states need the possession of a certain certification to be considered for employment.

Why is it so vital to have a license regarding the patient’s safety?

The process of obtaining a license assures that all individuals who are granted licenses to practice medicine have achieved the base level of expertise necessary to protect their patients’ health and safety.

If a person wants to engage in professional activities in more than one state, they must get licenses from all of those jurisdictions.

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