3 Types Of Online Training Course Certificates

3 Types Of Online Training Course Certificates
Summary: Certificates are a great way to reward your online learners, from basic completion to social and verified certificates. Even if your online training course is outside of compliance topics, there are great reasons to consider offering a certificate of completion. Learn about the 3 types of online training course certificates you can offer.

Types Of Online Training Course Certificates  

“Should I offer a certificate?” When developing an online training course, you may be considering whether to offer certificates as a reward for completion. There is healthy debate about the value of online training course certificates as a credential, particularly outside of accredited, licensed, or compliance courses.

Even if your online training course doesn’t require a certificate of completion, there are still great reasons for offering one, including:

  • Recognizing the online learner for their accomplishments.
  • Enabling reimbursement from sponsors.
  • Demonstrating successful completion to peers and employers.

The type of certificate you offer depends on your online training course objectives. Below, we describe 3 levels of certification, from simplest to most complex.

  1. Certificates of Completion.
    The most basic option is a printable certificate of completion. This is often required for compliance training. Outside of compliance, it may seem superfluous, but a certificate still provides a nice completion incentive. In some cases, employers even require verification of completion in order to reimburse the course fee. Consider offering a certificate of completion if you anticipate business learners taking the online training course, or would simply like to provide a reward.
    Look for a Learning Management System that auto-generates course certificates on completion, and offers branding options like a swappable background image and instructor signature.
  2. Social Certificates.
    The next level up is a social certificate. Unlike the standard certificate of completion, the social certificate is used when the online learner has reason to share their achievement with peers and future employers. For example, learning how to use a specialty software package, or completing a popular course from an industry thought leader. The social sharing of the certificate has the added marketing benefit of turning your online learners into advocates and increasing awareness of your brand. Many MOOC providers like Coursera and EdX have integrated their certificates with LinkedIn’s AddtoProfile program, such that completions can be added to the online learners’ LinkedIn profiles under the “Certifications” section. A few Learning Management Systems like Skilljar have also enabled online learner certificates to be easily added to LinkedIn profiles. Another option to consider is Accredible, a stand-alone certificate management system.
  3. Verified Certificates.
    The final type of program is a verified online training course certificate. These certificates are issued when online learners have passed exams that are proctored by a special exam provider. Verified certificates are often found in high-tech industries (such as learning a new programming language), where specialty knowledge carries a high value in the job market, and the consequences of poor qualifications are costly. Due to the cost of proctoring the exams, verified online training course certificates usually require a fee from the learner. Exams can be administered at physical testing sites or over the web. Options for exam providers include:


Online training course certificates are a great way to reward your online learners, even if you’re not developing compliance courses. The basic certificate of completion is an easy way to start. If your online learners want to show off their achievements, consider a social certificate using a system that enables social sharing for added marketing benefits. Finally, for the highest level of verification, look into proctored exam providers in order to create a weighty credential that’s recognized by peers and employers in your industry.