Credential Types

What are the types of credentials that are recognized by industry?


Mandated by law for workers to gain permission to practice in specific occupations and must be renewed periodically. Requirements vary by state and/or by licensing agency.


Signal an individual has acquired a set of abilities and, in some cases, allow them to perform a specific job. Certifications are not a legal requirement but may open doors to entry-level jobs or help seasoned workers advance up the career ladder in their field.


Demonstrate competence of a specific software. This includes productivity software and job-specific applications such as graphic or computer-aided design.

General Career Readiness

Measure general foundational workplace skills including basic reading, math, financial and digital literacy, workplace safety and basic life support or first aid. These types of skills are necessary across virtually all occupations.

CTE Assessment

Measure foundational workplace skills including basic reading, math, financial and digital literacy, workplace safety and basic life support or first aid. These types of skills are applicable across virtually all occupations.

Credential Supply and Demand

How do we analyze a credential's supply and demand data?

Credentials Earned (Supply)

The number of credentials earned by students in each state is reported directly from state education agencies. The data in this site are limited to the latest year of available data from each state.

Credential Demand

The demand for a credential is based on job postings data sourced from Burning Glass Technologies.

  • Demand for Certifications and CTE Assessments is based on specific requests for those credentials.
  • Demand for Software credentials is based on entry-level postings requesting competence in the software but not necessarily the credential itself.
  • Demand for Licenses is based on demand for the licensed occupation in the state where the license is required in most or all states. It is based on specific requests in job postings for that license if the license is only required in a few states.
  • Job postings are an inappropriate measure of demand for General Career Readiness credentials.

Demand is limited to postings in occupations that command a living wage. A living wage is defined by an occupation commanding a median hourly wage national of at least $15/hour based on Occupational Employment Statistics data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demand is normalized to account for the difference between actual openings and job postings posted online. Demand data are displayed to match the year of data in which the credentials earned were reported.

Credential Supply/Demand Categories

This measures the extent to which each credential is oversupplied or undersupplied. The metric is based on a comparison of the number of credentials earned and the number demanded in each state and for each credential. Categories include:

Categories include:
  • Very Undersupplied
  • Moderately Undersupplied
  • Supply Meets Demand
  • Moderately Oversupplied
  • Very Oversupplied

State Alignment

K-12: State Alignment Categories

  • The state alignment category is based on the following three factors:
    • Percent of Credentials Earned that Are in Demand: The percent of credentials earned by students in a state that are in demand based on job postings.
    • Percent Not Supplied: The percent of credentials demanded in state that are not earned by students.
    • Data Collection Quality: The credential data collection source (directly from vendors or self-reported by educators), and the education system(s) that collect credential attainment data (K-12 and/or postsecondary).

  • No Data
  • Low Alignment
  • Moderate Alignment
  • High Alignment

Postsecondary: Percent of Credentials Earned That Are In Demand

Because so few states provided postsecondary data, we could not calculate an alignment score based on postsecondary data. Instead, we use the percent of credentials earned in each state that are in-demand as a metric to assess each state’s postsecondary credential alignment with employer demand.

Credential Data Collection

How do we collect data?

Years of Data Available

The range of years for which the state has been collecting data.

Year of Data

The year of data for each state that is displayed. This is the latest year of data available for each state (in most cases either 2017-18 or 2018-19).

Map Categories

  • No Data: The state does not collect individual credential attainment data nor maintain a list of promoted or achievable credentials.
  • List: The state does not collect individual credential attainment data. The state maintains a list of approved industry-recognized credentials.
  • High School: The state collects individual credential attainment data at the high school level only.
  • High School and Postsecondary: The state collects individual credential attainment data at both the high school and the postsecondary levels.
  • Data Expected 2019-20: The state planned to begin collecting credential attainment data during the 2019-20 school year.

State Credential Policies and Processes

Policy Indicators

One of the key updates for Phase 2 was the development of robust K-12 and postsecondary state surveys to contextualize credential work at the state level, including state credential policies and funding availability. From these surveys and responses, we developed key policy indicators that can be seen on the state summary pages and within the state journey.

Career and Technical Education (CTE)

What do these term mean?

Career Cluster

One of 16 Career Clusters from The National Career Clusters Framework from AdvanceCTE, an approach used by most states. Each credential has been linked to up to four Career Clusters based on content area. Career Clusters are assigned by researchers and do not necessarily reflect the credential’s availability in a Career Cluster in any one given state

High School CTE Concentrators

Number of high school students who concentrate in CTE as defined by Perkins CTE Concentrator Enrollment data.

Percent CTE Concentrators

CTE Concentrators divided by High School Enrollment.

High School Students Enrolled

Public school enrollment in grades 9 through 12.

Occupation Employment and Wages

What do these term mean?


Standard Occupation Classification from Bureau of Labor Statistics database.

Median Salary

2017 median annual wage from Bureau of Labor Statistics database.

Employment in 2016

Employment in 2016 in thousands from Bureau of Labor Statistics database.

Project Growth

Projected growth 2016-2026 in percent terms from Bureau of Labor Statistics database.