By Brad Kelechava
Over the years, customers and other interested parties have sought out the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) for certifications, certificates, food handlers’ cards, and other services in the credentialing arena. However, ANAB does not offer any of these services but as an accreditation body plays an integral role in instilling trust and integrity in certificate issuing organizations.
“Accreditation” and “Certification” are often used synonymously, and while related and equally important in the conformity assessment system, the two terms mean quite different things. It is essential to understand the difference between the two terms to use them appropriately. In the conformity assessment process, you can find accreditation at the very top, with organizations being accredited to provide certificates or certification of persons, processes, organizations, services, and products.
What is Certification?
Certification of products, processes, services, personnel, or management systems demonstrates conformity to the requirements of a specified standard. There are different types certifications, such as:
- Third-party assurance that all or part of a management system conforms to the requirements
- A type of credential that requires a standard-setting body to assess an individual’s competence
- Analysis of relevant job requirements, identifying knowledge and skills the individual requires. For example, personnel certification bodies determine an individual’s competencies through adherence to ISO/IEC 17024.
What is a Certificate?
A certificate is another common type of credential that is issued when an individual completes a training or education program and attains achievement of associated learning outcomes. Certificates are also issued when organizations or products meet specified requirements of standards such as ISO 9001.
Click here to learn about the Difference Between Certification and a Certificate.
What is Accreditation?
ISO/IEC 17000:2020 defines accreditation as:
“third-party attestation related to a conformity assessment body, conveying formal demonstration of its competence, impartiality and consistent operation in performing specific conformity assessment activities.”
With this, accreditation denotes both a status (conformity to a specific standard) and a process (a commitment to continuous improvement). While certification bodies provide certification of products, personnel, or management systems to demonstrate conformity to the requirements of a standard, accreditation gives formal recognition that a body or person is competent to conduct specific tasks.
What is Distinguished Accreditation vs. Certification?
Since accreditation instils trust in certification bodies and certification ensures competencies in individuals, you can understand the differences between the two by looking at the designation. If you know who is receiving the designation and who us giving it, you can easily determine whether it is a certification or accreditation.
Simply put, accreditation legitimizes certifications and certification legitimizes the individual, organization, service, or product.
Find an ANAB-Accredited Certification Body
Accreditation is relevant to those who are seeking certification. Knowing that a certification body is accredited can be an essential factor when it comes to choosing a certification body. The third-party attestation of the competence of the certification body promotes confidence in the services provided.
ANAB is the largest multi-disciplinary accreditation body in the western hemisphere, with more than 2,500 organizations accredited in approximately 80 countries. Accreditation from ANAB instils a high level of trust that is passed down to any individual receiving a certification from an ANAB-accredited body. Refer to the ANAB directories below to find accredited certification bodies:
About the author
Brad Kelechava is the senior manager of online marketing at the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).