Credentialing is an umbrella term referring to the various means employed to designate that individuals or organizations have met or exceeded established standards. These may include certification, registration or licensure of individuals, or accreditation of organizations. The health education profession has chosen certification as the method of individual credentialing for the profession. Certification is the process by which a nongovernmental agency or association grants recognition to an individual who has met predetermined qualifications specified by the agency or association. Typical qualifications include graduation from an accredited or approved program and acceptable performance on a qualifying examination or series of examinations.
Following a charter certification phase in 1989, during which practitioners could become certified through review of documentation submitted by individuals, the first national competency-based certification examination was offered by NCHEC in 1990. Thus, the competencies identified through this process formed the basis for a framework for professional preparation and a national examination, leading to credentialing the eligible individual as a CHES (NCHEC, 1996).
NCHEC's voluntary professional certification program establishes a national standard for individual health education practitioners. It differs from state and local certifications and registries in that the requirements do not vary from one locale to another.