Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Some Definitions: Professional Certification, Licensure & Credential

Dear Friends:

Here are some terms for clarification. Please note that there is a difference between professional certification and licensure. One is voluntary and non-governmental (professional certification) and one is mandatory and governmental (licensure).

Professional Certification: A voluntary process by which a non-governmental entity grants recognition to an individual who has met certain predetermined qualifications or criteria specified by that entity.  There are 3 key elements to this definition: 1) Certification is voluntary. Individuals are not required by law to be certified in order to engage in a particular occupation or profession.  2) Certification programs are sponsored by a variety of non-governmental entities, such as for-profit corporations, professional and trade associations [the PMA in this case] and philanthropic organizations. They are not a form of government regulation.  3) Individuals receive certification only after the certifier has confirmed that they meet the standards set by the certification program. This means that the certification process must include some means of evaluating candidates for certification. Individuals cannot simply fill out a form, pay a fee, and become certified.’

Licensure: The mandatory process by which a governmental agency grants time-limited permission to an individual to engage in a given occupation after verifying that he/she has met predetermined and standardized criteria, and offers title protection for those who meet the criteria.’


The umbrella term that includes the concepts of accreditation, licensure, registration, and professional certification. Credentialing can establish criteria for fairness, quality, competence,and/or safety for professional services provided by authorized individuals, for products, or for educational endeavors.’

These definitions come from NOCA's Basic Guide to Credentialing Terminology, 2006. (NOCA, the National Organization for Competency Assurance, has changed its name to ICA, the Institute for Credentialing Excellence).

This is good for us all to understand. I hope it's food for thought and discussion.


  1. There are so many Certification Programs! How do I choose the right one?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. In 2009 The Pilates Method Alliance created the Registry of Schools to provide Pilates students interested in becoming Pilates teachers with tools to make informed choices. You can find this resource here:

      Registry of Schools

  2. Good post,thanks for the information! I have been doing research online looking at different Certification Programs so I can start a new career.

  3. I have to express to the PMA community about my experience with a so called Certification "school". The teachers name is Sunni Almond and she has a small studio in Temecula, California called Studio S Pilates. She taught me Pilates for 2 years, and asked if Id like to join her newly accredited school to become PMA certified. The price was $5000. I thought it seemed expensive but I didn't know any other schools so I agreed. Well, 6 months into the program, I expressed to Sunni that her teaching style was too harsh for me. She replied with, "lets go our separate ways, I wish you all the best". So here i was, not certified, and out $5000! Thank goodness I met with another teacher/studio owner who took me in and completed my hours and instruction. point is, beware of those "schools' that are run by Pilates teachers who have no ethics, and can kick out out at the drop of a hat. FYI, I am suing her for the 5k, and planning on getting my money back. So, not all is lost!

  4. We are sorry to hear about this disappointing experience you went through.

    In 2009, the PMA developed the Registry of Schools to help individuals choose a Pilates Teacher Training program. Each schools on our registry has responded to a list of questions, one specifically regarding whether a refund policy is offered, to help students make informed choices. I am glad to hear that you were able to complete your training and have chosen to be a part of the PMA.

    For the situation you are describing, the PMA has set up a procedure for formally submitting complaints. There is a section on the PMA website called Disciplinary Procedures and you can file a formal complaint to the PMA if you feel ethics have been violated and wish to pursue this direction.

    The link to that page is included here:

  5. FYI, the charges were dropped, Thalia's review on Yelp was identical to her posting here, but her charges were found to be untrue and slanderous and she changed it to the review below :
    Thalia K.
    Temecula, CA
    38 friends
    5 reviews
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    Follow Thalia K.
    5.0 star rating 3/3/2014
    Great instructor, very solid in her knowledge of pilates. Taught me everything I know, and now I own a successful studio in Wildomar, thanks to Sunni.