To the casual observer, the terms “accreditation” and “certification” might sound as though they mean the same thing.
But ISO – the International Organization for Standardization and the world’s largest accreditation/certification group – defines them differently.
- Accreditation – “A third party attestation related to a conformity assessment body conveying formal demonstration of its competence to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks.”
- Certification – “A third-party attestation related to products, processes, systems or persons.”
As Quality Magazine noted a few years ago, ISO’s hierarchy is set up so that accreditation outranks certification in terms of importance.