Your education is the foundation of your career. Therefore, it can be frustrating when you cannot apply your credentials once you arrive in North America. But you should not have to start over. That’s why it’s important for skilled immigrants to consider a credential evaluation. A credential evaluation can help you gain recognition for your academic experience. However, this is not the same thing as credential recognition. Learn the difference between these two related, but different, phrases. Knowing the difference can help you make decisions that will shape your future.
What Is a Credential Evaluation?
An expert can evaluate your degree or diploma from overseas, and then provide a verified report that explains what the degree or diploma would be worth in the U.S. or Canada. This process is known as credential evaluation.
There is not one official government agency that provides this service, though. Therefore, you need to choose a trustworthy organization to prepare your report. That is because a proper credential evaluation can be completed only by experts who have the necessary insight into, and knowledge of, international education systems.
The National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) keeps a membership list of qualified, approved credential evaluation providers. You can find a list of NACES members, including World Education Services (WES), here. Employers, regulatory bodies, and academic institutions rely on these organizations to help them understand overseas credentials.
In some cases, schools and employers only accept evaluations from a specific organization. It’s important to find out if your employer or school needs you to use a specific company before you order a credential evaluation.
What Is the Process for Ordering a Credential Evaluation?
At WES, you get started by creating an account. Once you have completed your application, you will be able to start sending required documents to WES. Then, a credential evaluator will verify the authenticity of each document.
Credentials are then assessed according to various criteria, including:
- Your country’s educational system
- The status of the institution you attended
- The content of your program of study
- Any entry or graduation requirements you had to meet
This information is then measured against Canadian or American standards. All grades and courses converted to the correct Canadian or American equivalency (depending upon which country you request). Once this initial evaluation is complete, a senior credential evaluator reviews it for accuracy. Then, they will approve it, and the credential report is complete. WES will send your report to the recipients who you named when you ordered the report (such as an employer, agency, or school).
Getting a credential evaluation will allow you to fully embrace the opportunities that you earned through past academic achievements.
What Is Credential Recognition?
Your credential evaluation will help you succeed during the college admissions process or while navigating the labor market. However, credential recognition is another important part of the process. In theory, it is the second part; it will come after you receive a credential evaluation.
That’s because your credential evaluation is sent to a recipient, like an employer or school. This is the “end user.” They will provide your credential recognition (rather than an organization like WES).
Here are a few examples of “end users” for credential recognition:
- For employment purposes, an end user would be the company where you are hoping to work.
- If you are trying to enter a regulated profession, an end user would be the regulatory body for the industry and location where you want to work.
- For educational purposes, an end user would be the university or college where you would like to enroll.
As a skilled immigrant, you should be proud of your academic achievements. It is a big step to pursue your personal and professional goals in a new country. And it is important to order your credential evaluation. However, it is ultimately up to your school or employer to recognize your credentials by accepting your credential evaluation report. Agencies like World Education Services can evaluate your education, and encourage a wider recognition of foreign credentials. But only end users have the power to recognize these evaluations.
Timothy Owen, Deputy Executive Director of WES, explains the relationship this way: “It is important to understand that a credential evaluation report is an advisory opinion. It is up to these ‘end users’ to recognize the value of the education described in the report.”
The key phrase in that statement is “advisory opinion.” Credential evaluation services, including WES, do not have the authority to insist that employers or other end users have to accept the report that they provide. For example, WES evaluates engineering degrees and diplomas; however, many professional licensing bodies in the field of engineering prefer to do their own evaluations. Similarly, some employers prefer to do their own research to determine if candidates meet their requirements.
How can you improve your chances of credential recognition?
Obviously, you have put in a lot of work to succeed in your new life in the United States or Canada. So you should take a few extra steps, if possible, to make sure your credentials are recognized.
First, be sure to find out if your “end user” prefers a specific organization for credential evaluations (or if they would rather do it themselves). You can also be in contact with them throughout the process. For example, you can let them know to expect your credential evaluation from WES. This will also help ensure that you have all of the right contact information and details you need so that it reaches them on time.
Second, you can help your “end user” understand and recognize your credentials by explaining your accomplishments and merits. For example, if you are searching for a job, you can create a LinkedIn. Be sure that your profile is filled out in full detail and matches the achievements that you will be calling to attention with your credential report.
With WES, you can also order a free Digital Badge and display this online version of your credential report to potential employers on LinkedIn. Present your credential evaluation when you apply for jobs, during job interviews, and when you are negotiating your salary. This will call to attention how your past academic achievements inform the current skills and value that you are bringing to the organization today. Find more job search tips, including how to make the most of your credential evaluation, here.
As one last example, if you are applying to schools, you can explain your past achievements in your personal statement. For more information, watch our webinar on “The Secret to Writing a Great Personal Statement in English.”
Internationally educated migrants rely on employers, regulatory bodies, and academic institutions to recognize their academic credentials. When these credentials are not recognized, individuals can end up underemployed, underpaid, and unable to achieve their goals. However, credential evaluation reports allow skilled immigrants and international students to fulfill their potential.
If you wish to order yours today, you can get started here.
Would you like to learn more about the differences between credential evaluation and credential recognition? Watch our on-demand webinar for free!