What is Micro-Credentialing and How Can it Help You?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 9 January 2023

Published 25 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Micro-credentialing is a modern qualification trend that helps professionals promote their new or existing skills. Micro-credentials can be a useful tool for improving your career prospects. In this article, we explain what micro-credentialing is, discuss why it's beneficial and tell you how you can get this type of qualification.

What is micro-credentialing?

Micro-credentialing is a process for securing skill-based qualifications. Candidates take part in short, self-paced online programs that teach or confirm mastery of a particular skill. After completing the program, candidates receive a digital credential recognising their acquisition of the skill. These credentials have many names, including digital badges, nano degrees and micro-certifications.

What kinds of skills do micro-credentials show?

Micro-credentials can show someone has specific soft skills or hard skills that are desirable or in demand in their industry. Some of the soft skills you can acquire through micro-credentials include professional writing and digital ethics. These skills are transferrable to many different jobs in various industries.

Some micro-credentials also recognise hard skills such as managing plastic pollution or Python programming. Often people who receive micro-credentials for hard skills have a good understanding of the topic before commencing the course. As micro-credential courses are short, they usually confirm or build on assumed knowledge rather than teaching skills from scratch.

Related: Hard Skills vs Soft Skills

How are micro-credentials different from standard credentials?

Micro-credentials differ from standard credentials, such as certificates and degrees, in the following ways:

Faster to attain

Completing courses for standard credentials takes months or years. Completing most micro-credentials takes between a few weeks and a year. Time varies depending on a skill's complexity and whether the program contains a training course. You can attain a micro-credential in as little as an hour.

Related: Best 6-Month Online Certificate Courses (With Benefits)

More affordable

Attaining standard credentials can cost thousands of dollars. Micro-credentials often cost less than $100. Some micro-credential programs are free for members of industry organisations.

More focused

Standard credentials show you have several skills related to an area of study. Micro-credentials show you have a single skill. This focus ensures businesses know exactly what the skills of people with micro-credentials are.

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May confirm existing skills

People receive standard credentials after completing a training program. While some micro-credential programs contain a training program, others only assess existing knowledge. These programs are a great option for people who want to prove their skills in a time-efficient way.

Digital format

Higher education institutes issue hard copies of standard credentials. Micro-credentials are digital. Their digital format makes them easy to display on your website or professional social media page.

Read more: What Are Online Learning Tools? (With 6 Types of Tools)

Related: FAQ: What is a Diploma?

What are the advantages of obtaining micro-credentials?

Micro-credentials have several advantages that help employees and the businesses that employ them. Here are some of the advantages of micro-credentials:

Positive learning outcomes

Micro-credentials involve short, focused courses that deliver targeted information. Their focus ensures people learn only the information that's relevant to their careers. Many people find it easier to stay engaged and remember what they've learned when they receive only relevant information.

Focus on in-demand skills

Micro-credential providers design qualifications in consultation with industry experts and business leaders. These discussions help providers create micro-credentials focused on the most in-demand skills. People with micro-credentials know businesses in their sector value their new qualifications.

Related: Top In-Demand Skills in Australia and Skills Shortage

Self-paced for flexibility

As micro-credentials are self-paced, the process is flexible. People can move through a micro-credential course quickly or take more time if they're busy with their job or family commitments. They can also move as fast or as slowly as they need to in order to retain knowledge because their progress is independent of other students.

Affordable for employees and businesses

Micro-credentials are an affordable way for people to gain more qualifications and distinguish themselves from their peers. It's also an affordable way for businesses to increase their training opportunities. Affordable training helps businesses upskill their teams and increase profits.

Time-efficient training

The targeted approach of micro-credentials helps people focus on improving specific skills. With all course material being relevant to a specific skill, people only spend time learning the things that matter to them. Time-efficient training frees up time for professional duties or a better work-life balance.

Related: Lifelong Learning: Definition, Importance, Benefits and Tips

Formal recognition of existing skills

Some micro-credential programs only comprise an assessment, rather than a training component and assessment. These programs are ideal for people who want to prove their skills to employers or enhance their digital portfolios. They're usually more cost-effective than programs with training components.

Make pathway to degrees easier

People who get micro-credentials through a university can use them as credit towards a related degree. This is a great advantage for people who are considering further study in the future. They can get one or more micro-credentials now, then accelerate through an undergraduate or postgraduate degree later.

Related: How to Develop Your Skill Set to Advance Your Career

What are the benefits of micro-credentials to employees?

Micro-credentials are a time-effective, affordable way for people to gain new skills and qualifications. Gaining new qualifications can make it easier to secure jobs, promotions and higher salaries. Many people have the same degrees and certificates as other people in their field. Gaining micro-credentials can help employees differentiate themselves from their competition.

Micro-credentials also let employees customise their learning paths. They can get several micro-credentials that focus only on the topics that interest them and help their careers. As you become more experienced, micro-credentials can help you get the skills that recent graduates in your field have. Regularly updating your skills is a good way to retain your value to employers.

What are the benefits of micro-credentialing to businesses?

Micro-credentials help businesses in evolving sectors train their employees quickly in new skills. When employees acquire new skills quickly, businesses can seize new market opportunities. They can also stay ahead of their competition as their industry changes. There is also a strong link between employee training and engagement. Employees who receive training regularly feel supported and more committed to their employers. Engaged employees are more productive and more valuable to a company.

How can you get micro-credentials?

Anyone can get a micro-credential, although you may need a parent or guardian's consent if you're under 18 years of age. These requirements vary between providers, so check the requirements if you're a minor. Here are the steps you can take to earn your own micro-credentials:

1. Find a micro-credential provider

Several providers offer micro-credentials, including universities, independent education providers and industry associations. Do your research to find providers offering the micro-credentials you're interested in. If you want to confirm an existing skill, look for providers offering assessment-only programs. If you want to learn new skills, find a program that combines training and assessment.

2. Submit your applications

After choosing your provider, submit applications for the micro-credentials you're interested in. You can apply for as many micro-credentials as you like. Apply for an online account with the provider. Submit the online form for each micro-credential you want, and your payment details if there are fees. Complete all necessary fields with accurate information for faster application processing. The provider then contacts you with a welcome email, details about the micro-credential program and your log-in details.

3. Participate in a training program, if required

Micro-credential training programs teach people relevant skills. These training programs can be a good way to gain new skills or reinforce your existing skills. You can start the training program as soon as you receive your welcome email. This program may involve attending online lectures, seminars or industry conferences. Focus on retaining the information from these training experiences. It's a good idea to take notes during your training to refer to later.

4. Get evaluated

Show the provider that you have mastered the skill to receive your micro-credential. Ensure you complete all the steps in the evaluation process to receive your micro-credential as soon as possible. Evaluation processes vary between providers, but may include some of the following steps:

  • Pass an exam testing your understanding of the skill and its processes

  • Submit a project or portfolio that demonstrates your skill

  • Demonstrate your skill in a practical setting

  • Speak at an industry conference

  • Complete a self-evaluation survey

  • Get other people to vouch for your skill level

5. Receive your micro-credential

Once you successfully complete the evaluation process, you will receive your micro-credential. It may take several weeks or months to receive your new qualification. Times vary depending on the provider and the availability of assessors. Save the micro-credential on your computer. Display it where employers can see it, such as on your website and social media platform. Don't forget to add your micro-credential to your resume.

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