I receive numerous phone calls and communications from people who mistakenly use words like “certification” and “licensing” when stating what they are looking for from one of my trainings. So, I thought I would explain the differences between a certificate of completion, a certificate of competency and a license.
Certification is not a legal designation. It is an acknowledgement of knowledge and/or skill issued by a teaching organization or a non-governmental testing association (like the American Reflexology Certification Board or the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork). Certification does not give you the legal authority to conduct business (ie. be compensated for your work).
A school can issue two different kinds of certificates:
~ A certificate of completion indicating that the individual was present for the hours stated and participated in all activities to the best of their ability. No testing of knowledge or skills is required. These are the certificates that the Academy gives for one or two-day workshops.
~ A certificate of competency is given at the completion of a lengthier training once all assignments and tests have been successfully completed. A certificate of competency is generally awarded for specialized programs such as reflexology, massage, aromatherapy, etc. by the school or non-governmental testing association. It basically attests that the individual is competent enough to provide the service without causing harm to the client/customer. The curriculums are comprehensive, and require hundreds of hours of training. The Academy awards such a certificate for its annual 315-hour Therapeutic Hand & Foot Reflexology Professional Certification.
A license is a permit to work legally in a jurisdiction, often following testing and proof of competency from a recognized school. A license is issued by authorities to allow an activity that would otherwise be illegal to practice. A licensing requirement also provides the issuing authority the administrative control to set conditions and limitations that would serve to protect the public.
While I’m at it, I’ll define compensation. Many people are under the erroneous impression that they can practice reflexology (in a jurisdiction that requires a license) as long as they don’t accept money for the service. Compensation is defined much more broadly than that. Compensation also includes barter, tithe, trade, donation, “love offering”, and anything else that you walk away with in exchange for your service.
Please note that neither the licensing agencies or the taxation arms of governments take kindly to someone practicing illegally.
I hope that clears up some confusion for people thinking of entering the manual therapies field.