Accreditation, Certification, Licensure, Registration

November 22, 2011
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  • To become certified, an individual must meet eligibility requirements and pass an assessment.
  • Certification is voluntary and the individual does not need to be certified in order to engage in a given occupation. Certification has traditionally been an association activity in which a group of professionals determines the need to publicly state its standards through assessment of competence, quality, or specialized knowledge.
  • The certification assessment may cover a broad area of knowledge and skills at entry, specialty, or advanced levels.
  • Certificants usually have ongoing requirements, such as continuing education or retesting, to maintain the certification.
  • A certificate program should not be confused with certification. 

Examples of certification programs are those offered by AAHID, ACHA, American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), EDAC, and GBCI (LEED). While it offers credentials for individuals, GBCI actually uses the term “certification” for its building credential program, which does not fit the traditional definitions described above. 


Certificate: A voluntary process by which a person or organization acquires a document serving as evidence, or as written testimony, of status, qualifications, privileges, or the truth of something. 

  • Generally issued by an institution not authorized to grant diplomas, or to a student not qualifying for a diploma.
  • A one-time recognition that does not expire or have ongoing requirements.
  • Unlike certification or accreditation a certificate belongs to the individual and not the organization.


Accreditation: A voluntary process by which a nongovernmental entity grants a time-limited recognition or credentials to an organization after verifying that predetermined and standardized criteria are met. 

  • Accreditation is voluntary; however, sometimes it becomes so important that it can be considered quasi-mandatory.
  • The focus of an accreditation’s assessment is on safe and effective processes and outcomes.
  • Accreditation usually has ongoing requirements (such as applications or site visits) that need to be met to maintain the accreditation. 

Example of this are Joint Commission, Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), Planetree, etc.


Credentialing programs

Many organizations in the healthcare and design industry offer different types of credentials. The following provides summary information about several programs that are relevant to those who are involved in planning, designing, building, renovating, or maintaining healthcare facilities.


The American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers

AAHID certifies the knowledge, skills, and abilities of healthcare interior designers. Board-certified healthcare interior designers are distinguished and qualified by demonstrated experience in the specialty of healthcare interior design and successful completion of a comprehensive exam. The AAHID appellation recognizes knowledge, skill, commitment, and excellence to the healthcare industry. Designers must first meet the prerequisite qualifications of the successful completion of the NCIDQ exam and of five years of demonstrated experience in healthcare interior design. For more information, visit


The American College of Healthcare Architects

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