Accreditation Vs. Certification: Key Differences

accreditation vs certification differences

Accreditation and certification are often used synonymously due to their similar processes, but it is essential to note the differences between these important compliance terms. They both set the quality guidelines for industry products and services and provide proof of an organization or individual’s integrity, compliance, and rigor. 

Why Are Accreditation And Certification Often Confused? 

Many different terms and phrases are used in the world of compliance and business. For anyone outside of the industry, the language may be confusing. Some words are seemingly synonymous but have very different meanings. Certification and accreditation are terms used by credentialing authorities in the evaluation of a product, person, or process. While they are similar attestations, they should not be used as synonyms. 

Accreditation is a voluntary process where an agency is evaluated for compliance based on certain criteria. It is the formal recognition of the competency of these specific standards. It is both a process and a credential. This type of recognition is based on specific base activities, rather than all of the activities in an organization. An independent third party provides the endorsement of the product, service, or process. For example, a business that is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has met its established standards. Accreditation adds value to a business by providing integrity to its goods and services. The initial evaluations usually involve submitting a self-evaluation report, authorization by an independent board, and site inspection by a team of experts. 

Also accreditation requires continuous compliance with the established criteria and is often accomplished through regular assessments of the organization. Individuals and private sectors are normally not able to become accredited. 

Certification is a written assurance of the conformity of a product, person, service, or process based on a set of established requirements. These criteria are provided by a form of audit, education, assessment, or external review. A third party verifies the compliance of the organization or individual. Certification is based on all company activities in a given industry. This process is voluntary, but sometimes regulatory bodies require certification to provide a specific service. 

To become certified, an individual must meet eligibility requirements and pass an exam. Certificants may be required to pursue further education or retesting to maintain the certification. Technician certification is another example of this recognition in the construction materials testing industry. Product certification is a common type of certification that provides proof that a product is manufactured using a particular process or has met certain standards when subjected to testing. 

Accreditation Vs Certification 

It is critical to note the key differences between certification and accreditation for companies and customers alike. While they seem similar, both quality assurance checks have distinct definitions, procedures, and outcomes. Read on to learn the specific differences and similarities between these two compliance terms. 

How Are Accreditation And Certification Similar? 

Accreditation and certification are both voluntary processes. They both require a third party to verify the compliance of an organization. Ongoing testing and maintenance are required for individuals and companies to maintain these recognitions. They both assure that the requirements of particular standards are met for different services and products. Accreditation and certification enable regulatory bodies to avoid expensive and time-consuming assessments. They help to reduce costs and maintain quality. Accreditation and certification are used in different types of industries such as education, health, science, business, and non-profit. 

What Is The Difference Between Accreditation And Certification? 

Accreditation is typically considered to be a more significant type of recognition than certification. Certification bodies often hold accreditation as an attestation to their competency to perform their duties in the field of certification. Accreditation is given to companies, organizations, or institutions, while certification is typically provided to an individual. The base activities for accreditation are based on specific activities, while certification is based on all of the company activities. It is important to note that accreditation and certification are also different from other quality assurance terms such as licensure and authorization. 

Comparing Accreditation And Certification 


• Accreditation is a voluntary process where an agency is evaluated for compliance against a set of established guidelines. 

• Accreditation involves the endorsement of a product, service, or process by an independent third party. 

• Types of accreditation include educational accreditation, accredited registrar, and an accredited investor. 

• Base activities for accreditation are based on specific activities, rather than all of the activities of an organization. 

• Accreditation is awarded to an organization, institution, or company. 


• Certification is a written assurance that verifies an organization's or individual's compliance. 

• Certification involves the endorsement of a person, product, service, or process by a third party. 

• Types of certification include diving certification, cyber security certification, and digital certification. 

• Base activities for certification relate to all company activities in a given industry. 

• Certification is the process of endorsing an individual’s knowledge or skills. 

Conclusion: Importance Of Accreditation And Certification 

Learning the differences between accreditation and certification helps organizations and individuals recognize the importance of both of them. It’s essential to know the difference between accreditation and certification as they are two different compliance terms that should not be used interchangeably. 

While they share some attributes, accreditation and certification have distinctive meanings, processes, and outcomes. Accreditation and certification are both voluntary processes that require a third party to assess compliance. Assessments and ongoing testing are typically required to maintain these compliance awards. Accreditation is provided to an organization, institution, or company, while certification is given to an individual. Base activities vary between the two; accreditation focuses on specific activities, while certification is based on all company activities. 

Accreditation and certification provide professional benefits to individuals, companies, institutions, and organizations. Companies showcase the quality and safety of their products or services and maintain a competitive edge by obtaining accreditation or certification. Certified professionals gain an objective measure of their expertise and authority within their industry. By learning about the difference between accreditation and certification, consumers can make an informed decision before purchasing a product or trusting a service professional. They can buy from brands that align with their values. Certifications help companies increase the earning potential of a product, service, or process, while accreditation provides assurance on the compliance of the organization, reducing the need for specialist assessment personnel.

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