Credential Transparency

Powered by the Credential Transparency Description Language and the Registry

Credential Engine’s video puts forth a shared vision for credential transparency—why we need it and what is possible with it.

Why do we expect people to be able to navigate the credential landscape without rich information guiding them? Without proper tools that can help them make their journey as rewarding as possible? Especially when it is hard for people to find their way through new or ever-changing landscapes without proper navigation equipment—information that shows the end goal, where danger lies along the way, and where they can get help if needed. Even experienced hikers get lost in dense terrain without a map and a compass. 

For the credential landscape, greater transparency is that map and compass. Credential transparency means that essential information about credentials—including their associated skills and competencies—are public, easily accessible, and actionable. This way credentials can be better understood and pursued based on what it takes to earn them, what they represent, and the jobs they can lead to. It’s time we give people the information and tools they need to get credentials when they need them.

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Why is Credential Transparency Important?

Credential Engine’s research report, Counting U.S. Postsecondary and Secondary Credentials, finds that there are nearly 1 million credentials offered in the U.S. While these represent important opportunities for people to get ahead, the current landscape is not easily navigable. With so many credentials to choose from—and without widespread adoption of standards for comparing and evaluating them—people get lost and lose out on opportunity. People need better information to navigate pathways to credentials, into the workforce, and toward their goals. The time is now to work toward credential transparency. 

Credential transparency can illuminate paths to a better future by shining a light on available pathways through education and training into careers. Transparent credential data can also help education and training providers, policy makers, employers, and state agencies to discover areas of need so they can better allocate resources to create missing pathways. This way people can have equitable, reliable, and accessible paths to fill their needs and everyone can find the best avenues to success.

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We need to make sure that credential and skill data speak a common language. There are too many different ways to describe similar credentials, skills, and competencies—making it nearly impossible to compare between offerings. This is why Credential Engine has developed the Credential Transparency Description Language (CTDL)—a common language that allows credential providers to catalog, organize, and describe their credentials. The CTDL is widely respected as the standard language to create a common understanding across credentials, skills, competencies, and their outcomes. By creating a common language to describe this information, CTDL enables universal credential comparability.

Get more technical information in the CTDL Handbook.

Once credential and skill data are mapped to the CTDL, providers upload that information to the public, cloud-based Credential Registry so that it can be openly available for anyone, anytime, anywhere. The Registry holds detailed information on all types of credentials and skills in an easily-accessible format. Here you can explore competencies, learning outcomes, up-to-date market values, and career pathways and reference data on credential attainment and quality assurance at schools, professional associations, certification organizations, military, and more.

By adding data to the Registry, stakeholders fuel the creation of services and tools that allow students, employers, and workers to choose the best path forward. When credential information is published to the Credential Registry, the CTDL links each data point (e.g. aligning credentials and skills), making it possible to compare that credential’s data across all other credentials in the Registry. Together, the CTDL and the Credential Registry make credential and skill information accessible, discoverable, comparable, and actionable—enabling the vision of credential transparency to become a reality. 

Get more technical information in the Registry Handbook.

Explore CTDL data in the Registry using the Finder.

The data in the Credential Registry is meant to have long-term permanence. Once the lifecycle of a resource ends, CTDL terms are used to indicate it’s no longer offered. For example, a credential may no longer be offered, and/or the organization offering the credential may close. However, the historical data is still important and remains in the Registry. Thereby data quality is important as well as currency of data until a resource’s life cycle concludes. Credential Engine has always had data quality controls in place but has now implemented automatic processes to help with Credential Registry data quality and currency.  

The new automated processes for quality and currency controls now generate detailed reports for Duplicate Resources, Broken Webpage Links, Resource Currency, and Incomplete Publishing, from the new Credential Registry Services page. These reports are available to all publishers with a Credential Engine Account. These reports can be accessed at any time, not just based on receiving an email. We encourage all publishing partners to review their data in the Registry to ensure they are current and accurate. 

Get more information on our Currency Policy in the Credential Transparency Toolkit. 

Get Involved

In order for credential transparency to have the greatest impact, credential providers, employers, policymakers, and thought leaders all have to come together to share and use the CTDL and data in the Registry. This vision requires all of us. Together, we can ensure that learners and workers have access to the information they need in order to make use of their opportunities and get ahead. Together—through credential transparency—we can illuminate paths to a better future.

If you want to get involved, please email us at: info@credentialengine.org.

We encourage you to share our video and infographic so others can see our vision!