What are the different types of Credentials?

Licensure and Certification are the two primary types of credentials. Credentials can also be earned via Apprenticeships. The table below will give you an at-a-glance view of the differences between these three groups. Click the headings to learn more about the ones that interest you.

Who Issues? Optional/Required? Unique Features Key Requirements
LicensureLicensure
Licenses awarded by government licensing boards – federal, state, local Required by law in civilian workforce Requirements may vary by state May Include:
  • Education
  • Training
  • Work Experience
  • Exam(s)
CertificationCertification
Certifications awarded by non-governmental organizations - professional associations, private sector companies Optional, but may be required by licensing boards or employers Multiple certifications may exist from different organizations May Include:
  • Education
  • Training
  • Work Experience
  • Exam(s)
ApprenticeshipApprenticeship
Certificate of Completion issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship Optional, but in certain construction projects strongly incentivized by federal law Industry funded and operated – may be sponsored by single or multiple employers, with or without a union as a sponsoring partner On-the-Job Training supplemented by Classroom Instruction