Credentialing Terminology is Still Baffling
Requiring Training for Certification

Retired Status for Certification: Good Idea or Not?

The question of whether or not to create a retired class of certification comes up frequently on various electronic lists. Is it a good idea?  I'm a consultant, right, so you know my answer: IT DEPENDS. :-)

It's understandable for those retired to want to maintain their credential as a sort of badge of honor, even when they are no longer practicing. However, giving in to these demands can diminish the value of the credential.

In considering this issue, you and your Board need to consider the real purpose of the credential. Is it public protection or is it more recognition-focused? If your certification has a public protection purpose, then it's likely contradictory to waive the continuing competency requirements for any class of certificants. Bottom line, if your focus is on public protection, then you want to do your best to ensure your certificants are competent. Telling some of them they don't need to learn anymore while still holding up the same designation as others isn't consistent with the public protection focus. Many of the retired classes of certification I've seen are based on age alone. BAD idea. If you go down the path of adding a retired class, consider requiring a signature attestation that the individuals are, in fact, retired from the field that you are certifying.

Or, rather than adding a separate retired category, consider ways to make the requirements more user-friendly to this cohort. Make sure they are not unnecessarily restrictive or cumbersome. For example, do you require only traditional CE activities - such as conference attendance - which can have financial, mobility and geographic limitations? Consider what other activities you can allow that are accessible and affordable to everyone. For example, reading peer-reviewed journal articles is one activity to consider adding because it has few barriers. Or, could you offer them a discount?

On the other hand, if the purpose of the certification is really about recognition within your profession, then a retirement class has fewer implications.  Not best practice, in my opinion, but it can be done.


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