Going global with certification is a topic of interest to many, but few resources exist to guide efforts. Here's an article that's not new, but provides timeless advice. Don't forget to click on the links at the end too - one covers legal issues to consider. (Caveat: you may need to be an ASAE & The Center member to view.)
Also important to realize, there is an important distinction between a U.S. association offering a credential to an international audience and one offering global credentialing. The former occurs much more often. In this case, a U.S.-based association creates a credentialing program based on U.S. practice and standards and allows individuals in other countries to apply. In this case, those individuals will be required to know the U.S.-based terminology and standards even if they do not apply to them. In addition, the program likely won’t cover some terminology and standards important to practice in their country.
In contrast, a truly global credentialing system studies the practice in every country where the certification will be offered, identifies the universal standards that apply to all, and creates the program based on these universal standards. This, as you can imagine, is usually not an easy task for most professions since terminology, practice standards, and regulations often differ significantly by country.
The differences often lead associations to hybrid approach, including 1) creating the U.S.-based program first and later adopting other versions of it for use in other countries and 2) working with several nations to identify the universal set of standards, but then allowing individual countries to add standards to accommodate their local practice requirements.
It can be helpful to distinguish the program types using the following terminology:
- A national program is one that is based on standards that were developed and adopted by one country, yet individuals from other countries are allowed to apply for the credential.
- An international program is one that is based on standards that were developed and adopted by one country and applied to other countries.
- A global program is one that is based on universal standards collectively identified by all the countries involved.
- A multinational program is one that is based on a combination of universal and local standards. Representatives from different nations collectively define a universal set of standards, but they reserve the right to supplement those standards with ones that reflect their local conditions
National certification programs that allow international applicants are fairly common. However, how they handle international applicants can vary. Reciprocity and equivalency are forms to be familiar with:
- Reciprocity is mutual recognition by two countries of each others standards and/or requirements.
- Equivalency is the determination that a country’s standards and/or requirements are of equal content and quality of those of another country.