Jump to Content
ABA: The American Bankers Association
Skip Section Navigation

Professional Certification vs. Certificate Program

ABA offers valuable ongoing professional development to help you stay competitive in any banking role. Professional certifications and certificate programs may sound similar, but each has a distinct purpose.

Professional Certification

A professional certification is a commitment to long-term learning on a broader topic. A credential is earned after an assessment with predetermined and standardized criteria, and it is maintained by earning continuing education (CE) credits annually.

For example, the Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager (CRCM) is a professional certification obtained through the American Bankers Association.

Certificate Program

A certificate program is a targeted micro-learning experience. Participants of a training program on a specialized topic are granted a certificate upon completion. 

The ABA Certificate in Deposit Compliance and the ABA Certificate in Lending Compliance are two examples of certificates earned by completing a series of program courses online or at an ABA school. 

Here’s a breakdown of the differences between a professional certification and a certificate program:

Professional CertificationCertificate Program
  • A credential is earned after an exam; grants credential holder a designation that can be used as a title (e.g. CRCM, CTFA, CAFP, CFMP)
  • Requires a specified amount of professional experience
  • An industry-wide process (job analysis/role delineation) sets the standard of required knowledge and skills
  • Credential must be maintained by earning continuing education credits that demonstrate ongoing knowledge of requirements. 
  • A certificate is earned upon completion of training courses
  • Available for both newcomers and experienced professionals
  • Course content is often established by an advisory board and subject matter experts
  • Does not offer a credential that must be maintained; can offer CE credits