14 Credentialing

Relating competencies to formal credentials, micro-credentials, and professional designations

High level context: Recognizing achievement of competencies is an integral piece of many occupational designations and ongoing professional development.


Who: Professional association or licensing body

What problem: Skill and competency profiles from different jurisdictions vary in both scope and language, making it difficult to compare similar credentials.

What context: We need to ensure that those working in our profession have a consistent set of competencies in order to practice professionally.

This will help: By providing a validated approach and structure for developing a competency framework that is linked to both formal credentials and ongoing professional development needs.

Who: College or university teams (curriculum developers, teaching and learning centres, faculty, continuing education leaders, Deans)

What problem: We don’t know how to map our competencies together and how to categorize them in a way that will make sense to grant administrators.

What context: Preparing a grant application to develop multiple micro-credentials that ladder into regular programming.

This will help: By providing a structure to map existing competencies to and demonstrate relationships between them.

A common use for competency frameworks is in defining and relating competencies to licensing requirements and professional designations, which include both formal credentials (such as those issued by a college/university, or regulatory body) and required ongoing professional development (such as endorsements or micro-credentials).

Stucturally, this use of a competency framework is based on workplace and job roles, but the linkages to credentials may vary greatly. In some cases, there are prerequisite educational requirements or credentials that precede entry into an occupation, and these may not necessarily be captured in the competency framework. In other cases, entry to practice has no formal credential requirement, and competencies are developed through a combination of formal learning and on-the job experience.

How competencies are applied in both of these situations are similar, in that there are generally a set of common competencies that apply to a range of activities, or include behaviours expected across the occupation. There is also a work activity/task based structure that identifies the competencies used for different roles and areas of specialty, and in many cases there is a requirement for ongoing re-certification or licensing to ensure currency in the field is maintained.

Relating competencies to credentials


  • Identify any pre-requisite training or certification requirements. These may or may not be linked directly to competencies within the framework.
  • Identify the scope of the different credentialing pathways – are you looking to issue credentials based on the achievement of specific competencies, or are you looking to link external credentials to competencies within the framework?
  • Are there requirements for re-certification and/or continued professional development?
  • Are there endorsements or specialties that could be best defined by micro-credentials or digital badges?
  • What is the relationship between the credentials and work activities – are credentials being based on the ability to perform specific activities, or a range of activities? If so, then what are the competencies required?





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eCampusOntario Open Competency Toolkit Copyright © 2021 by Dennis Green and Carolyn Levy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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