6 Questions To Ask When Developing A Curriculum For Your Certification Course

6 Questions To Ask When Developing A Curriculum For Your Certification Course - Launch Your Own Certification Program
Summary: Let’s get into the nitty gritty of course creation. The heart of your certification course is the curriculum. While marketing is important for spreading the word, the ultimate success or failure of your course is determined by its content.

How To Launch Your Own Certification Program: Developing A Curriculum For Your Certification Course

Here is what to ask when developing a curriculum for your certification course:

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1. What Should You Teach?

Let’s start with the most obvious question: What should you teach?

You may have several different options for a course topic. It may be difficult for you to figure out what you should teach, but here’s a clue: What’s the one question that you find yourself answering over and over again?

Let’s say you run a real estate brokerage and you’re tasked with recruiting and then educating new agents to sell homes. Your most frequently asked question from your new recruits may be “How do I get clients?”. In this scenario, you can create a course where you train real estate agents on building their business network from the ground up. At the end of the course, you can offer an exam and provide a professional certification that the agent can then use for marketing and wooing new clients.

When creating your curriculum for your certification course, you must determine what’s important for your audience to know. However, it’s crucial that you narrow the focus of your curriculum. Don’t try to go too large in scope. In the above example, it may be tempting to create a course where you train the agent on everything they need to know about real estate. The problem with this approach is that you can only provide a shallow training when you attempt to cover too many topics at once.

Instead, laser focus on answering one specific question at a time – the more specific, the better. You can always add new courses as a compliment, but be careful of trying to accomplish too much in one course.

Depending on the type of certification you offer, you’ll want to create a curriculum that aligns with the career aspirations of your students.

2. Who Is Your Ideal Student?

This question is intertwined with the first – you can’t decide what to teach unless you know who you’re teaching. Your course will need to answer a question that your target audience has actually asked of you.

Create a student persona where you define the basics, such as age and job title. What are their most common pain points? Where do they spend time online? Try and get inside their heads.

3. What Does Your Student Stand to Gain?

Before developing your curriculum, you need to ask yourself 3 things about your potential students:

  • What are their pain points?
  • What are their goals?
  • How will you help them reach their goals?

Determine the motivating goal for your prospective students. What is it that they hope to accomplish by taking your course? Would they like to advance their career? Would they like to develop a new skill? Would they like to have professional validation that they can share with friends, family, and future employers?

Your student’s goals when starting the course will influence your curriculum’s content. If the goal is learning something new from scratch, you’ll create a different program than if the goal is to learn more about a topic of which the student is already familiar.

Answering these questions will enable you to create a curriculum that addresses the demands of your students.

4. How Do You Communicate This ROI To Your Students?

Once you know what your student wants from your course and you’ve created a course that accomplishes this goal, make it clear in your marketing. Explain how your certification course will impact those who take it.

To do this, make a list of the benefits that your students will gain from taking your course. You can use these benefits for marketing your course in the future, for example “Learn to perform X more efficiently and shave Y off your bottom line” or “Gain a marketable skill that will make you indispensable on any X-type team.”

5. What Else Is Currently Available On The Market?

Take a look at the marketplace. Are there other courses that tackle the same topic?

If you do find other courses with a similar focus, take it as a sign that you’re on the right track. There’s actually a market for your course. You won’t need to spend your time and other resources to persuade your prospective students to take a course. You can simply focus on why they need to take *your* course.

Likewise, when you’re developing the course’s curriculum, it’s important to know what else is on the market. You can use this knowledge to make a more comprehensive course that fills in the gaps which other courses may ignore. This will also help you to differentiate your course in your marketing and messaging.

6. What Type Of Certification Should You Offer?

There are several types of certifications you may offer. Most certifications fall into the following three categories:

General Professional

This type of certification is relevant to any individual within a certain industry. For example, an aspiring web designer may find it useful to take a course on the fundamentals of HTML and CSS. Upon completion of the course, the web designer can then use this certification when marketing their services. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) offers a safety certification called Safety Certification for Transportation Project Professionals.


This type of certification is tied to the mastery of a specific product. Perhaps you sell web development software. It makes sense to create a certification course so that your users may reach proficiency. This certification can be carried with the users throughout their careers, and it can also market your product indirectly. Hootsuite’s Hootsuite Academy is a good example of this.


This type of certification is tied to your company, and is for internal use only. While this type of certification cannot be taken with the individual if they leave your company, it is useful for developing skilled workers who align with your standards and company values.

If you want to know more about developing your own certification program, download the free eBook How To Launch Your Own Certification Program.

Related Articles:

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  3. 3 Steps To Marketing Your Certification Program
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