Digital Badging for Professional Certification Organizations, Licensing Boards, and Employers of Credentialed Professionals


Enjoy this short primer on digital badging for organizations that manage certification, licensing, training, or education programs for individual professionals or businesses.

What is a digital badge?

Badges provide a visual indication of achievement. A prominent example of badges in the physical world is the merit badges awarded to boy and girl scouts. These merit badges recognize acquired proficiencies in everything from first aid, camping, and personal fitness to hiking, swimming, and cooking.

A digital badge is an online version of a physical badge. It is a portable, verified, and secure representation of acquired knowledge, skills, and achievements. You can see examples of digital badges in the graphic that illustrates this blog post.

Where are digital badges used?

Individuals use their digital badges wherever they present themselves to peers, colleagues, employers, and recruiters online. These venues include their website, social media pages, profile pages on professional networking sites like LinkedIn, and job boards.

Similarly, businesses use their digital badges in all their online promotional materials, including their website, email signature, and consumer review sites such as Yelp. Since digital badges have a strong visual component, professionals and businesses can also display them on letterheads, reception areas, and even on the side of a vehicle.

Digital badge metadata

A significant benefit of digital badges over physical badges is that people can click them. Clicking a digital badge can take an interested party to a website that confirms that the individual or organization sharing the digital badge has indeed earned it. That same website can also list the skills, training, education, and experience that the badge holder acquired, accumulated, or demonstrated to earn the credential that the badge represents.

Who uses digital badges?

Digital badges are primarily issued by organizations that train or educate individuals. These organizations include professional certification organizations, state licensing boards, equipment manufacturers, technology companies, and educational institutions such as colleges and universities.

Many professional certification boards offer digital badges to their certificants, including the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), and the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

Equipment manufacturers use digital badges to identify individuals and organizations they have trained to operate their equipment correctly. Similarly, technology companies like Adobe, Microsoft, and Oracle use badges to identify individuals that have demonstrated mastery of one or more of their technology products.

For example, Adobe offers 160 unique badges for marketing and design professionals who demonstrate proficiency in their graphic design products. Similarly, Oracle provides dozens of badges to software professionals who master their database management and software application development tools.

Some organizations use digital badges to certify or accredit other organizations. Think of this as the modern equivalent of the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” For example, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) uses its QualityPro program to certify pest management companies and assure customers that the QualityPro-approved company has passed stringent requirements for professionalism and service delivery.

What are the benefits of digital badges for credentialing organizations?

Credentialing organizations that provide digital badges for each of their credentials make it significantly easier for their certificants and licensees to share their credentials with potential customers and employers.

By making it easier for their professionals to share and leverage their credentials for negotiating jobs, promotions, and raises, the credentialing organization is increasing the value of their credentials. Measuring the use of digital badges allows credentialing organizations to go one step further and prove the value of their credentials to their professionals, employers, and other stakeholders.

What are the benefits of digital badges for consumers and employers?

Digital badges help consumers and employers make faster and more informed decisions. When consumers hire a business to perform a service or hire a professional to perform a job function — they want to be assured that the company or employee they hire has the necessary training, skills, education, and experience to complete the job. While interviews and references will always be an essential part of the selection process for any service provider or employee, digital badges provide a quick and easy way to ensure that candidates possess the baseline requirements to perform the job.

Simply put, digital badges help employers hire faster and reduce the risk and consequences of hiring someone that turns out to be a bad fit.

What are the benefits of digital badges for badge holders?

Digital badges make it quick and easy for businesses or individual professionals to prove their training, skills, education, and work experience to potential customers or employers. Digital badges also help badge holders negotiate better jobs, faster promotions, and more frequent raises by setting themselves apart from peers that do not have the same badges.

Adding digital badges to your credentialing program

Developing digital badges for your credentials can take as little as a couple of days. Digital badging platforms like Credly’s Acclaim platform make it easy. These platforms also provide detailed reporting and analytics on how people engage with digital badges once deployed. These data allow credentialing organizations to prove the value of their credentials to current and potential certificants and licensees.

Credentialing versus digital badging

Digital badging starts where online credentialing ends. Software platforms like Certemy provide credentialing organizations with an affordable, configurable online software platform for guiding professionals and organizations through a process that culminates in awarding a credential to those that meet all their requirements. Providing successful candidates with a digital badge makes it easier for them to showcase your credential to customers and employers and enjoy the many benefits described earlier.

Certemy integration with Credly

Certemy is partnering with Credly to make it simple for Certemy customers to issue digital badges for their Certemy-powered credentials. We’d love to tell you more about it.

Certemy helped us intake an entire field of counselors in a very short period and allowed us to achieve a goal that would have otherwise been unachievable. The software has already paid for itself, and we plan to move the rest of our certifications to Certemy very soon. 

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