The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has published an article, based on BLS data, showing the occupations where workers are most likely to have a license or certification. The report also highlights BLS growth projections for selected occupations.
So, what is the difference between a license and a certification, you ask? According to the BLS definition, one of the biggest distinctions is that licenses are legally required by the government to work in an occupation; certifications are not. Below is a breakdown of the differences between the two credentials.
- Awarded by a governmental licensing agency
- Gives legal authority to work in an occupation
- Requires meeting predetermined criteria, such as having a degree or passing a state-administered exam.
In 2015, about 22 percent of employed people had a license. Occupations with the highest percentages of licensed workers include those in healthcare, legal and protective service, community and social services, and personal care and service.
- Awarded by a professional organization or other nongovernmental body
- Is not legally required in order to work in an occupation
- Requires demonstrating competency to do a specific job, often through an examination process.
In 2015, about 3 percent of employed people held a certification, but no license. Some groups, such as those working in community and social services and healthcare, have a relatively high percentage of workers who have a certification, but not a license.
You can access the national data on certifications and licenses in the U.S. here, on the BLS website.