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Can Certificates be Required?

I received a question yesterday about the ASTM E2659 Standard Practice for Certificate Programs and thought others might benefit from hearing the answer.

The question was related to the clause: (1) The certificate issuer shall not state or in any way imply that certificate holders are certified, licensed, accredited, or registered to engage in a specific occupation or profession.

The question asked if it was a violation of if if the certificate is required to practice a certain aspect of a profession?  The answer is no.  This clause prevents a certificate issuer from making misleading and confusing claims about the type of credential granted.  The certificate issuer should state that a certificate is issued for the attainment of a training program's intended learning.  They should not state the certificate holder is certified or licensed (or anything other than that a certificate was issued) since those credentials are not the outcome of a certificate program.  However, if attainment of a certificate is required by some entity for individuals to act in a certain role, that is a different issue and is fine.  An certificate issuer can state what what the role of the certificate is since these are truthful and not misleading statements.

As real life examples, two of organizations that recently had their certificate programs accredited by ANSI operate under this scenario. FDA’s “New Hire Investigator Training Certificate” is required to become an FDA Investigator and the US Army’s “CP 12 Safety Professional Certificate” is required to become a Safety Officer in the US Army.