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Professional Credentialing vs. Professional Honours: Understanding the Distinction

By Stephen Mally posted 07-13-2023 10:04


In the professional realm, recognition and accolades play a significant role in acknowledging individuals' expertise and achievements.

Two common forms of recognition are professional credentialing (such as Certified Fundraising Executive - CFRE) and professional honours (such as the Fellow of Fundraising Institute Australia - FFIA). 

While they both highlight accomplishments and skills, there are distinct differences between the two. In this blog post, we will explore and compare professional credentialing and professional honours to provide a clearer understanding of their respective meanings and implications.

Professional Credentialing

Professional credentialing involves the process of obtaining specific qualifications, certifications, or designations that validate an individual's expertise in a particular field or industry.

These credentials are typically awarded by professional organisations or regulatory bodies and require individuals to meet predetermined criteria, such as education, experience, and passing examinations. Some examples of professional credentials, besides CFRE, include Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Project Management Professional (PMP), or Board Certified Surgeon.

  1. Validation of Competence: Professional credentials are a formal recognition of an individual's knowledge, skills, and abilities in a specific profession or industry. They provide tangible evidence of competence and expertise, establishing credibility among peers, employers, and clients.

  2. Standardised Requirements: Professional credentials often have well-defined and standardised requirements, ensuring consistency and uniformity in assessing an individual's qualifications. These requirements are established by recognised professional organisations and are often based on industry standards and best practices.

  3. Continuing Professional Development: Maintaining professional credentials frequently involves meeting continuing education requirements. This encourages professionals to stay updated with the latest advancements and best practices in their field, ensuring ongoing professional growth and competency.

Professional Honours

Professional honours, on the other hand, are prestigious awards or titles bestowed upon individuals as a recognition of exceptional achievements, contributions, or leadership in their respective fields.

These honours are typically granted by industry associations (like Fundraising Institute Australia), government bodies, or reputable organisations and often hold a significant level of prestige and respect.

  1. Distinction and Prestige: Professional honours recognise extraordinary achievements, unique contributions, or exceptional performance in a specific profession or field. They elevate individuals' reputations and grant them a distinguished status within their industry or society.

  2. Subjectivity and Nomination: Unlike professional credentialing, professional honours often involve a subjective nomination and selection process. Nominations can come from peers, industry experts, or the public, and honours are bestowed based on a range of factors, including impact, innovation, leadership, or service.

  3. Broad Recognition: Professional honours often garner wider public recognition and can significantly enhance an individual's profile and visibility. They serve as a symbol of excellence, inspiring others and elevating the reputation of the entire profession or industry.

While both professional credentialing and professional honours recognise accomplishments and expertise, they differ in their nature, requirements, and implications. Professional credentialing focuses on validating competence and expertise through standardised qualifications and certifications, while professional honours celebrate exceptional achievements and contributions through prestigious awards and titles.

Understanding the distinction between the two forms of recognition is important for professionals seeking to establish their credibility, advance their careers, and make a lasting impact in their respective fields.