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by Chelsea Earhart, MBA, CAE, ICE-CCP, KCSAE Director

Micro-credentials have become a popular trend over the past several years and many associations have started offering them to complement existing educational and credentialing options.  If your organization has not yet considered instituting a micro-credentialing program, it may be time to analyze if a micro-credentialing program is a good fit for your association.

A micro-credential, like the name implies, is a designation that is smaller in scope than a regular credential and highlights a specific skill or subset of knowledge.  They can even be created to showcase a single skill or competency.  They can be earned via many formats.  Some examples include course completion, either self-paced or guided, or completing an applied learning experience.  They usually include quizzes or an exam so the candidate can demonstrate mastery of the knowledge, skill, or ability being represented by the micro-credential.  Micro-credentials can also be offered to “stack” onto current credentials or other micro-credentials.

The trend of offering micro-credentials has grown significantly in recent years and can be partially attributed to advantages that the programs offer.  They are significantly quicker and cheaper to implement than a traditional credentialing program, can help address shortages in the workforce, and are more adaptable to changes occurring in the field of study or profession.  They can also provide significant additional revenue streams for associations.

There are some important things to consider before jumping on the micro-credential bandwagon.  First, it is extremely important to ensure that a new program fits within the organization’s mission, vision, and strategic plan.  The impact that a new program might have on existing certificate or certification programs should also be explored.  There are also many operational considerations that should be discussed and researched thoroughly before proceeding with an implementation plan.

Once an association has decided to proceed with implementing a micro-credentialing program, there are many resources provided by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (www.credentialingexcellence.org) that outline considerations and best practices for micro-credentialing programs.  Micro-credentials can be a great way for associations to expand their professional development offerings while creating additional revenue streams, provide additional value-added products for stakeholders, and assisting in filling knowledge gaps in professions and industries.

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