online course certifications

4 Types of Online Course Certifications Explained

In our competitive environment there is a growing number of people seeking to obtain certifications in different skills and areas of knowledge, either to fulfill a laboral requirement or to improve their educational profile. Several educational organizations, schools and elearning businesses offer virtual courses that allow users to obtain these certifications, whether they be official or not.

If you already award student certificates on your e-learning site, it is important to know what kind of certifications exist and which ones you offer in order to gain a better insight on the value you deliver to your students. 

Our LMS specialists put together this guide to introduce you to the main online certification types and the roles they play in different e-learning site models.

Product-Based Certifications

Product-based certifications prove that an individual has acquired the necessary knowledge needed to use or operate a certain product. Software based certifications are a popular example of this type of accreditation, with certificates validating knowledge in a wide-range of products such asMicrosoft Excel or Adobe Photoshop. Another great example of product-based software certifications are those offered by Google for their Analytics software.

Professional or Continuing Education Certifications

Students can complete online courses to earn continuing education units online. CEUs allow professionals to continue practicing by validating they are continuously learning and are up to date in their field of study. Some of the businesses selling continuing education units online offer ongoing professional training for healthcare professionals, teachers, lawyers and accountants.Within this category we also find other programs that don’t offer CEUs, but do allow students to obtain official credentials such as online Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees or other diplomas. 

Offering this type of e-learning certifications can be more complex than offering institutional certificates, since there are specific requirements your program must meet in order to be accredited by supervising bodies. For example, an online course that allows students to earn University credits will need to be evaluated and approved by University officials first-hand. In this case the University would need to determine what data and requirements the awarded certificate must showcase. Virtual course certificates of this kind typically include custom data that allows corresponding authorities to validate them and award students educational credits.

Employee/Company Certifications

Many companies award certificates to employees that have successfully completed required online courses. These certificates allow employees to prove they have completed their onboarding process, are experts on a new product release or have acquired a new skill.

Employee training certifications are typically not relevant to outsiders, such as external accreditation bodies or educational institutions. However, they should still provide the necessary data to allow managers and executives to validate their employee’s growth and performance. Since certificate requirements vary within different businesses, depending on company size and industry standards, when selecting an LMS for corporate training, consider whether it supports online certificates that can be configured to meet your needs.

Online Course Certificates

Finally we have the most common type of certification we find online, online course certifications that are awarded on an internal capacity by the course provider. Any online course that allows students a certificate of completion falls within this category.

Typically, students use these certificates to show they’ve learned a new skill or concept in a non-official capacity. Online course certificates can be added to a resume or shared with others, however they do not result in any  education credits or count towards a professional degree. Not all online course certificates can be validated, however enhancing your certificates to be easily verifiable can provide your students additional value. Some ways to do this include:

  • Displaying the course completion date on certificates
  • Disclosing the student’s and instructor’s data on the certificate
  • Giving each student a unique URL to their certificate to share with others

Online Course Certifications

Are you looking to implement online course certifications to your e-learning site? Our LMS consultants can help you configure and customize your LMS to support all the certification capabilities you need, whether you are awarding CEUs, training your employees or simply offering online courses for recreational purposes.