I've gotten some interesting feedback on my last post suggesting use of the term "acronym designation" - some through comments and some by direct e-mail. Some felt the term works. Some felt it was repetitive. Some other suggestions were:
- designation acronym
- certification abbreviation
Still others noted that "designation" or "credential" are the terms used in their fields. Regarding the latter two, I struggle with these because to me they don't distinguish the actual designation/credential from the acronym that stands for it. "Certified Association Executive" (ASAE & The Center) is a designation or credential so that doesn't solve how to address the "CAE".
Of interest, here's how the current Wikipedia entry defines credential:
"A credential is an attestation of qualification, competence, or authority issued to an individual by a third party with a relevant de jure or de facto authority or assumed competence to do so."
It cites among its examples, degrees and certifications.
So, why do we need a term to describe the intials/acronym anyway? Well, the world at large probably doesn't really care, BUT in our certification corner of the world, it does matter. It matters because we need to communicate to individuals we certify what are / are not appropriate uses of the designations and associated acronyms that they are granted use of.
In the end, of the ideas brainstormed, I actually like the reverse of what I originally suggested. I think "designation acronym" works better. You have the designation (e.g., Certified Association Executive) and its designation acroynym (CAE). That's what I'm going with for now so thanks to Ben for the suggestion. And, thanks to everyone for the ideas and discussion!
By the way, the terminology works for all of credentialing. You can have the certification designation and its designation acronym, the licensure designation and its designation acronym, etc.