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The National Organization for Career Credentialing is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to inform and educate individuals and organizations interested in career credentialing as a way of improving the lives of individuals and benefitting the economy.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When was the Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) developed, and by whom?
The CRC was developed in Virginia in 2004 as an economic development tool for Governor Mark Warner. Because workforces are mobile and workers need a portable skills credential, a CRC Consortium of seven states was formed in 2004. In the 2004 CRC Consortium charter document, the term Career Readiness Certificate and the levels of certification are defined.
The CRC was created as a state governor’s initiative and so the name makes no reference to the assessments used or to any vendor.
From 2004 to 2006, the number of states involved in issuance of the CRC Consortium increased to 42. During those years, CRC recipients used their Career Readiness Certificates for the purposes of employment or promotion, carrying their credential across state lines when necessary to obtain employment.
The CRC Consortium has now grown to 50 states or territories.
2. May any state or organization use the name Career Readiness Certificate?

The Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) name and logo may only be used by an organization if it has been licensed to do so through a signed licensing agreement with the National Organization for Career Credentialing (NOCC)SM. (see # 25).
If a licensing agreement is on file with the NOCC, the licensed organization may display the name and logo on certificates, in promotional materials and on associated web sites in accordance with the prescribed technical specifications listed in the licensing agreement.
A licensing agreement will be made available to any organization that wishes to issue a Career Readiness Certificate that complies with the definition shown in the CRC Consortium charter document, i.e.

a. There are three levels of the CRC credential based on the certification of skills attainment on WorkKeys® assessments in Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading For Information. WorkKeys is a product of ACT, Inc™ and scores on the assessments are certified by ACT.

b. The levels of skills attainment on the three assessments are Level 3 (Bronze), Level 4 (Silver), and Level 5 (Gold).

The licensing agreement will not preclude the use of organization- or state-specific names. (e.g. Virginia Career Readiness Certificate)
The licensing agreement will not limit or determine the design of CRC certificates.
The CRC name and logo must not be used on any certification that includes additional assessments beyond the three WorkKeys assessments and skill levels specified in b. above.
A licensed organization may continue to use the CRC name and logo if an extension of the CRC is approved by the NOCC. An extension refers to the addition of any other professional assessment to the three WorkKeys assessments that define the CRC to create a CRC Plus (written CRC+).
Licensing agreements are available at no cost to the licensee, will have a term of one year, and may be renewed by the NOCC on review of current usage.
The NOCC Board of Directors may determine if a proposed use of the term Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) meets those requirements. Decisions of the Board are final.

As of October 2014, 50 states and organizations have been licensed by the NOCC to use the name Career Readiness Certificate.
States and organizations that have been licensed to use the name for statewide or local deployment of the CRC are:

3. Who may issue the CRC?
The CRC may be issued: 1) as a statewide credential; 2) by any professional organization; or 3) by a private organization.

For a statewide initiative, the CRC should be issued by a workforce development system partner such as the governor’s office, a government agency (e.g. Department of Commerce, Labor or Economic Development) or the community college system.

If the CRC initiative is not statewide, then any organization may issue the CRC. For example, in several states, local WIBs, individual community colleges, chambers of commerce, high schools, and private companies have issued thousands of CRCs.

4. Is the CRC truly portable?
Yes. Even if an employer has never heard of WorkKeys assessments , he/she can read on the back of the CRC the certified skills that a person has. These skills are needed everywhere so, regardless of who issues the CRC and in what state, it is accepted everywhere (see #5).
5. I have heard that the only truly nationally portable CRC is the National CRC issued by ACT, Inc®. Is this true?

The CRC was developed and implemented in a consortium of states in January, 2004 (see #1). From 2004 to 2006, the number of states involved in the CRC movement increased to 42. During those years, CRC recipients used their Career Readiness Certificates in any state for the purposes of employment or promotion.
ACT announced the creation of the National Career Readiness Certificate™ (NCRC) in September 2006. They used the definition of the CRC established in the 2004 Career Readiness Certificate Consortium charter document as the basis for the NCRC.
In definition, the NCRC is exactly equivalent to any other CRC issued in this country except that it has the vendor’s name and logo on the face of the certificate.
It is no more portable than any other CRC.

This issue was addressed in a 2008 article in Inside Higher Education.

6. Who should lead a state initiative?
Every state initiative needs a “Champion” and the best one is the governor. Alternatives are: Lieutenant Governor, a member of the cabinet, the Chair of the SWIB, the state chamber of commerce, labor unions, and professional associations.
7. How much does the CRC cost?
Many states are setting a standard price for the CRC at $45. This includes all assessments, the certificate + 5 copies, and in some cases, a laminated CRC “pocket” card.
8. Who should sign the CRC?
A state certificate should be signed by someone who is known and recognized in the state. The best person to sign the CRC is the governor but it may also be signed by some other easily identified person with some status and authority within the issuing organization.
9. Is the CRC equivalent to a high school diploma, or any other degree?

No. Because the CRC is based on criterion-referenced (performance-based) assessments, it is a measure of what a person can DO rather than what a person KNOWS. It is more useful to think of the CRC as a complementary credential to the high school diploma.
It is especially beneficial when it is used as an exit credential for Career & Technical Education students, or to quickly certify the skills of displaced workers.

10. Is it legal to use the CRC in the hiring process?

Yes, as long as it is not the sole discriminator or selection tool.
11. Can the CRC be awarded to people with disabilities or to non-English speakers?
12. Can the CRC be awarded to the incarcerated?
Yes, but training may not be done on-line.
13. How do you create employer demand for the CRC?
Employers respond best to results. So, even if an employer has not heard of WorkKeys assessments or the CRC, he/she will be impressed with high quality job applicants and with demonstrated ROI data. Once they find out that the CRC can give them a competitive edge, employers will demand it.
14. Does an employer have to be using WorkKeys® profiles before he/she can use the CRC?
No. An employer who has not used profiling can ask for the CRC during the hiring process as a guide to applicant quality.
15. How do you get and keep employers engaged in the CRC initiative?
Our advice has been that, in order to maximize employer participation in any function, organizers must realize that private sector representatives work on schedules that generally limit meeting attendance to about 90 minutes. In fact, the best way to maximize employer attendance is to host meetings that span breakfast, lunch or dinner times, and to ensure that the meetings start and end on time.

Employers are looking for employees who are trainable, and they are often frustrated by the poor quality of the applicants who respond to job postings. They are too often disillusioned with the public education and workforce development systems, and while they are usually sympathetic to efforts to assist the chronically unemployed, they do not see these people as being the pipeline for their businesses.

When the CRC concept is first introduced to employers therefore, it is essential that these realities be taken into account. If a vendor, an educator, or even a high ranking professional presents the CRC as “the answer”, many employers will be turned off the CRC as “just another education project”. Similarly, if the message is delivered by a vendor or workforce development professional, employers may well misinterpret the CRC as another “feel good” or revenue generating initiative.

It is also important to realize that, once employers accept and become enthusiastic about a new initiative, they want it implemented immediately. It is best not to include employers in CRC discussions unless and until you are ready to begin work on its development.

Employers respond best to data that show a positive impact on their bottom line. So, there are important things to communicate at the outset:

• The CRC will save employers money when used as a pre-screening hiring tool during the hiring process. The workforce development system will assist an employer at no cost if that employer requests only job applicants with a specified level of the CRC.

• The CRC is a credential that will certify what a person of any age and any educational background can DO rather than what they KNOW. That means that an employer will be able to judge whether an applicant is trainable, either in an entry-level position or when being considered for a promotion.

• The CRC is a legally defensible tool that is also EEOC and ADA compliant.

• The CRC will not cost the employer anything, unless he/she chooses to offer the assessments to potential or incumbent employees at his/her cost.

These messages are best delivered by an employer who is already using the CRC. Testimonials from other employers about savings during hiring, OJT, etc. send a powerful message.

16. What if an employer has never heard of WorkKeys assessments? Can a job applicant still use it during the hiring process?
Yes. See Question 4.
17. How does the CRC save an employer money?

By requiring a specified level of the CRC during the hiring process, an employer can better assess whether the applicant has the basic skills needed on the job. Knowing this, time and money are saved by not interviewing or hiring applicants who are not suited to the job. Also, when a new employee enters a job with the required skill level, OJT requires less time and is more effective.

If the CRC is used as a promotional tool, the employer saves time and money by training an employee ONLY in the skill areas required for the new job. This process is also objective and so may save money by providing a buffer against litigation.

18. How do you get educators involved with and excited about the CRC?
All educators want to do the very best that they can for their students. If the benefits of the CRC are made clear, if the CRC message is inclusive (for all students), and positive (a complement not a rival to the high school diploma), if they can be assured that the CRC will enhance the chances of success for their students and their school’s reputation, and will not increase their teaching burden, educators are usually supportive.
19. How old does someone have to be to take the WorkKeys assessments?
It is best not to use WorkKeys assessments with anyone under the age of 14, i.e. it should not be given to students below the 9th grade. Most schools consider 10th grade to be a good starting point. There is no upper age limit.
20. Why is the CRC referred to as a complementary credential?
Existing credentials measure what a person knows. The CRC certifies that a person knows how to apply that knowledge in the workplace. So, the CRC complements (“completes”) any academic credential.
21. What is the “life” of a CRC?
If the skill requirements of a job never change, the level of CRC does not need to be revisited. However, it is recommended that the assessments be re-administered after five years. If the skill requirements of a job change frequently or significantly, the CRC level should be re-assessed at least annually.
22. Why were only three WorkKeys assessments used to define the CRC?
The ACT Occupational database shows that the three chosen assessments were used in more than 85% of the 15,000 job profiles conducted nationwide across all industry sectors.
23. What is a Platinum CRC?
Some employers are interested in assessing skills at levels higher than Level 5. Consequently, in some instances, the three assessments at level 6 are referred to as a Platinum level CRC.
24. What is a CRC+?
In order to refer to a certificate as a Career Readiness Certificate, an organization must use ONLY the three WorkKeys assessments at the levels defined by the CRC Consortium in 2004. If other assessments of any kind are added, the certificate must be referred to as a CRC+
25. What is the connection between the NOCC and the CRC Consortium?
The National Organization for Career Credentialing™ (NOCC) is a non-profit corporation that focuses on informing and educating the public about career credentials. It is comprised of two centers: the Center for the Career Readiness Certificate Consortium (CRCC), and the Center for Excellence in Practice. The NOCC hosts an organization-wide web site and also a web site specific to the CRC Consortium. NOCC staff provides assistance with deployment of the CRC, and develops and issues electronic newsletters that include news from the CRCC.
The NOCC is supported solely by public donations.

For more information,

Contact Barbara Bolin, Ph.D.
President, NOCC