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Identify Credential Competencies

Audience: Curriculum developers, assessment developers, certifying organizations, license-issuing organizations, corporate trainers, and technical trainers may find this page helpful.

Competency models identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for success in an occupation or industry. Because of this, models are a resource for developing credentials such as educational diplomas, certificates, and degrees; registered apprenticeship certificates; personnel certifications; or occupational licenses that ensure workers are prepared to face work-related challenges and activities.

A credential is an award to an individual by a third party, with the relevant authority or jurisdiction, as a verification of qualification or competence. Some examples of credentials include:

  • educational diplomas, certificates and degrees;
  • registered apprenticeship certificates;
  • occupational licenses (typically awarded by State government agencies);
  • personnel certifications from industry or professional associations; and
  • other skill certificates for specific skill sets or competencies within one or more industries or occupations (e.g. writing, leadership, etc.).

Refer to TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT GUIDANCE LETTER NO. 15-10 for additional information.

Competency models are a useful resource for developing the knowledge, skills, and abilities requirements for a credential. The model provides the basis for identifying and prioritizing content prior to developing specific learning objectives or performance standards.

A competency model can also be used to evaluate an existing credential to determine if the award actually covers all the competencies required for successful performance in an occupation or industry. Refer to Communicating Workforce Needs for more information on how models can be used to help employers to communicate their workforce needs.

The American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute used competency models to develop the Hospitality Skills Certification (HSC) program. The HSC program is a competency-based certification program that recognizes employees for their knowledge and successful job performance. For more information about this program, visit

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintains a competency-based infrastructure supported by related training and development activities for managers and employees in key occupations. This infrastructure serves as the basis for career development programs, professional certifications, and licensure programs. For an example of a competency-based licensure exam guides for different types of pilots or airmen visit:

Visit the Models in Action to learn about the many additional ways competency models are being used.

  1. Identify the industry applicable to the credential being developed or evaluated.
  2. Select the industry model that most closely matches the selected industry.
  3. Use the Build a Model Tool to customize the model to the targeted industry if necessary.
  4. Download competencies and key behaviors to the Identifying Credential Competencies Worksheet. For more information, click on the Worksheet tab below.
  5. Use the worksheet to gather information from subject matter experts familiar with the requirements of the credential.
  6. Analyze the results.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) administer accreditation programs for personnel certification agencies.

To learn more about certification standards visit:
the ANSI Web site at:
the NCCA Web site at:

The Identifying Credential Competencies Worksheet is a tool that allows subject matter experts to provide input on a credential's competencies by formatting the contents of a competency model into a data input form. Using this form, subject matter experts can rate the importance of competencies in the context of the credential, identify those competencies which should be required as part of the credential, or suggest the required level of competence for key knowledge, skills, and abilities.

To download and use the Identifying Credential Competencies Worksheet, follow the directions below:

  1. Worksheets are available to download from each industry model page. After choosing an industry model, click "Download" in the Helpline section on the left. You will then have the option to download that model as a worksheet.
    You can also download your own customized model as a worksheet during the "Stop and Save" step of the Build a Model process.
  2. Edit the text or column headings as desired; suggested headings are provided.
  3. Use the worksheet to gather input from subject matter experts.
  4. Tally the input – count the responses.
  5. Analyze the results.

Below is an example of a completed worksheet being used to identify competencies for inclusion in a new credential.

Identifying Credential Competencies Worksheet - Example

Do you have advice on using competency models for Identifying Credential Competencies that you would like to share? If so, e-mail

For assistance applying your model in some common situations, select another guide.