Who Issues? Optional/Required? Unique Features Key Requirements
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)


Graphic reprensentation of a certificationWho Issues? 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 (e.g., Electronics Technicians Association, International Master Certified Electronics Technician) or by industry and product-related organizations (e.g., Novell Certified Engineer).

Optional or Required? Certifications are typically optional, although some state licensure boards and some employers may require certification.

Unique Features For many occupations, more than one organization may offer similar certifications. Certifications may also be “stacked” meaning that there are multiple levels of certifications. Sometimes the lower level certification is a prerequisite to the higher level. In other cases, you can pursue the higher level certification without the lower level, if you meet other eligibility requirements.

How to get more information on COOL Information on certifications related to a rating, collateral duty/out of rate assignment, or designator can be found on the COOL Summary Page in the section "National Certifications and/or Federal Licenses."

This is an official U.S. Marine Corps website
Updated: September 26, 2019