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Micro-Credentials: The Little Things Add Up

Woman smiling at the camera from behind a laptop.

More and more employers are looking for “renaissance” employees—hard workers who have tangible skills in multiple areas tangential to their expertise and take the initiative to learn applicable skills.

The expectation isn’t for someone to invest in a new college degree but rather to accumulate smaller certifications that boost a person’s skill set. These certifications are called micro-credentials.

What Exactly Are Micro-Credentials?

Micro-credentials are short trainings that results in certificates or digital badges certifying competency in a particular skill. Third parties like universities, colleges, or trusted field organizations typically offer them because they’re qualified to certify in-demand skills.

They can be hard skills, such as HazMat endorsement for CDL drivers, or soft skills, such as increasing emotional intelligence. These credentials are entirely transferable, and the courses can last from a few hours to a few weeks.

Most courses and training at the Regional Economic Development Center at Yavapai College are considered micro-credentials. While we offer a multitude of studies, it’s easy to see the range of possible micro-credentials offered:

Check out our professional and development courses page for a complete list of skills you can start learning today.

Graphic defining micro-credentials as short trainings certifying competency in a particular skill

Stackable Credentials

Casting a wide net of educational opportunities is impressive and can boost your career. You may also want to deepen the well of knowledge in one particular area. Many organizations that offer micro-credentials also offer stackable credentials. These are courses and certifications that build off of the previous class.

Remember how things lined up in school—after Chemistry 101, you take Chemistry 202? The previous course sets you up to complete the next one, and many times, you’re restricted from the higher-level course until after you’ve completed the previous one.

You’re not required to progress through stackable credentials. However, they exist as an option to explore a specific niche further.

How to Gain Micro-Credentials

Micro-credential courses are generally open to anyone, regardless of their student or current employment status. Some have previous requirements, such as having your CDL to get your HazMat endorsement.

They typically require a course fee for resources and educator pay, but they can be as low as under $100. Some employers may incentivize you once you’ve earned your certification through reimbursement or promotion.

Once you complete this course, you earn a digital badge to add to your resume or LinkedIn profile. This last step, of course, isn’t necessary, but it’s a way to prove to current and prospective employers that you earned this achievement.

Competency-Based Education

These courses operate very similar to a regular class at school—you learn the curriculum over several days or weeks, then take a test at the end to prove your proficiency. We call this competency-based recognition or competency-based education. You can learn a new skill set or something similar to what you already know.

Two co-workers working together on a project, laptop and notebook in hand.


Micro-credentials can help you learn a new skill or a facet of your job that you haven’t been able to explore before.

Many people find themselves in roles or careers unrelated to their degrees. They may receive on-the-job training but require something additional to fill knowledge gaps and advance in the company.

Learning these new skills is considered “upskilling.” It’s more about updating your skillset to continue on your path.


If you’re looking for a lateral move or a slightly different position, your goal is most likely reskilling.

Reskilling involves badging to improve tangential or adjacent skills. For example, you might look into reskilling if you’re aiming to move to management or want to work with software that uses a different programming language. Essentially, if you’re able to apply some current skill sets, look for courses that will help you re-skill.

The Importance of Badging and Micro-Credentials

Completing these courses and earning micro-credentials is often called “badging” due to the digital badges you earn. Why is this all so important?

Whether we’re changing jobs or not, philosophies and technologies never stop evolving. What worked well even a few years ago may not be the standard anymore. You’re more employable when you keep sharpening your skills.

Micro-credentials make you more employable, not only because you have learned on-demand skills but because acquiring badges and taking the initiative to educate yourself shows determination and ambition. You might make yourself eligible for a more substantial salary or position due to your knowledge base and ability to train others.

Not only does badging benefit you personally, but it can also help your department or company. Bring back the things you learn after earning badges to keep your coworkers and direct reports current with information.

Two co-workers in conversation.

Stay Sharp at REDC

Micro-credentials are a simple and cost-effective way to develop your skills. They’ll be even more integral to the workforce’s development and everyone’s future career growth.

They aren’t just applicable skills to the workforce. Volunteers, hobbyists, and students can benefit from micro-credentials.

The REDC at Yavapai Colleges offers many online courses and professional training to upskill, reskill, and everything in between. Please take a moment to learn how we can help you develop in-demand skills to propel your career.

Home LinkThe REDC is a Division of Yavapai College.Go to yc.edu

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