Should our association offer a certification program?

The question of whether your association should offer a certification program is tremendous in terms of scope – there are many areas that need to be discussed.

However, there is a quick test that can be applied to see if it seems to make sense. Ask this question: Could a consumer/employer fairly judge the merit of a person/company in the given industry without the association certification?

For example, in the computer and electronics world, association certification would appear to have merit. That is because it can be difficult to judge the skills of an electronics designer based solely on a brochure or portfolio. That’s because what is not seen is as important or even more important than what can be seen. You might think the electronic or computer system looks good from the outside, but it might be so poorly designed on the inside that it is likely to fail prematurely.

On the other hand, an association certification would appear to be less useful if it was easy for the consumer to judge the work based on appearance. A good example of this would be graphic design. While there need to be certain technical merits of good graphic design, it is ultimately very easy for the consumer/employer to determine whether the design is good. It either is, or it isn’t, and a portfolio of printed examples will tell the tale. Moreover, a graphic designer with certification but a poor portfolio is unlikely to get the job.

Again, this is just one test of whether or not an association certification program is right for your association. But it can be a good place to start.

Is your association considering offering a certification program? What are the tough questions you are asking?

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