Certification Vs Certificate

There has been confusion recently over the difference between being certified and receiving a certificate of completion from a certificate program/class that labels the holder an “expert”.  ACAN offers both and they are two VERY different things.

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Certification Programs

Certification includes an experience and an education component as well as requiring the passing a thorough examination. Certification allows a practitioner to put letters after his or her name (CSAHC/CSAN or CNEHC/CEN). Certification requires re-certification, which ensures that practitioners stay current in their field through continuing education.

Professional certification is the voluntary process by which a non-governmental entity grants a time-limited recognition and use of a credential to an individual after verifying that he or she has met predetermined and standardized criteria via a comprehensive examination.

Certificate Program

A certificate program typically only indicates attendance or completion of a class or series of classes with a specific focus.  The end result being a piece of paper called a certificate of completion, which demonstrates a basic knowledge of content at the end of a specific period of time.

More and more organizations are developing certificate programs incorrectly and calling them certification programs.

Beware/ Be informed and educate yourself about the important differences.


  • Results from an assessment process
  • Typically requires some amount of professional training and/or experience
  • Awarded by a third-party, standard-setting organization
  • Indicates mastery/competency as measured against a defensible set of standards, usually by application or examination.
  • Standards set through a defensible, industry-wide process (job analysis/role delineation) that results in an outline of required knowledge and skills.
  • Typically results in a designation to use after one’s name (CSAHC/CSAN.)
  •  Results in a document of certification to hang or to keep in a wallet
  • Has ongoing requirements in order to maintain certified status
  • Holder must demonstrate he/she continues to meet requirements to complete annual CEUs to keep their certification(s)

Certificate (of completion) Program:

  • Results from an educational process.
  • For both newcomers and experienced professionals alike.
  • Awarded by educational program providers or institutions.
  • Indicates completion of a course or series of courses with specific focus. (Different than a degree granting or certification program).
  • Class or course content set a variety of ways (faculty committee, professional or instructor).
  • Usually listed on a resume detailing education; may issue a document to hang on the wall as proof of completion.
  • Is the end result; demonstrates a basic knowledge of class or course content at the end of a set period in time.

The American Council of Animal Naturopathy offers individual courses for continuing education in which a certificate of completion is granted after passing a quiz.

We also offer intensive certification programs/courses which when successfully completed, qualify the student to sit for the certification examination.

Please Note: 

Due to the nature of online content, we cannot issue refunds for our classes or courses once a username and password have been issued.

Potential students should carefully review our class and certification course outlines prior to enrolling. If you have any questions about the suitability of the content and whether our programs are for you, please e-mail us through our contact form during normal business hours 10:00 am to 6:00 pm MT Monday through Friday.The American Council of Animal Naturopathy is privately owned and operated, not government-funded.

NOTE: Even though the American Council of Animal Naturopathy is a privately owned and operated entity, we still uphold the first amendment in respecting and protecting the religious liberty rights of our instructors and students of all faiths or none. You may find statements within the books, articles, audios or videos within the class work that speak of personal spiritual beliefs of the author or speaker.

A.C.A.N. Certified Animal Naturopaths, Animal Health Coaches and practitioners certified in animal naturopathy or nutrition do not provide medical diagnosis, prescribe medications or perform surgical procedures. A.C.A.N. expects Certified Animal Naturopaths and those certified in animal naturopathy only provide the professional services set out in the Scope of Practice and strictly adhere to the Code of Ethics identified on this website. A.C.A.N. cannot be held responsible for anyone not acting within the Scope of Practice or not adhering to the Code of Ethics herein.