Get/Earn/Obtain a Certification – Which Is Correct?

When you become certified in any given skill, you’ll want to find the best way to state that you are certified. But there are plenty of words you could use, and it can be hard to decide which term works best. This article will clarify what option to use.

Get/Earn/Obtain a Certification – Which Is Correct?

“Obtain a certification” is the preferable alternative to use, though it’s worth emphasizing that “get a certification” and “earn a certification” are also completely valid. “Obtain a certification” is only preferred for reasons that make it more accessible to a broader range of situations and contexts.

Get Earn Obtain a Certification

All three of the options work perfectly fine, and whichever one you choose is a matter of the situation that you’re in. “Obtain a certification” is the most common.

“Get a certification” is also common, but might be seen as less formal than “obtain a certification”, so it’s not the preferable term to use.

“Earn a certification” is also correct, but you’d use it specifically for contexts in which you would say that the person described worked hard to earn the given certification.

So while these three are all technically interchangeable, insofar as they all work to convey the same idea, you shouldn’t necessarily use them interchangeably without putting much thought into the context of the situation.

Get a Certification

“Get a certification” is perhaps the most straightforward, direct way of stating that you have, through any given method, gotten a certification for something. It’s perhaps a very blunt, inelegant expression, but it does a fine job of expressing that you now have a certification.

You should probably use “get a certification” in more casual contexts, as the use of the verb “to get” might be seen as informal and could be inappropriate for more formal situations.

Still, even if it is an informal expression, it’s a completely grammatically correct one and can be freely used without consideration beyond the formality of the context.

Here are a few examples that showcase the use of the phrase “get a certification” and its variants:

  1. In the past year I got a certification as a nurse, so I’ve been working using that degree.
  2. She should get a certification as a qualified translator, because I think it’s a reliable job.
  3. He had gotten a certification for his first few years of practice, but he had to get it renewed.
  4. You should have to get a certification in the subject before expressing your opinions.
  5. I got a certification for my driving at a local office, and now I can freely drive my car.

Earn a Certification

“Earn a certification” is a completely grammatically correct and valid way to state that you have obtained a certification in any given thing. However, its use should be very deliberate, because the word “earn” implies several things beyond just the obtaining of the certification in question.

The word “earn” is not a merely neutral descriptor, unlike other terms like “get” or “obtain”. “Earn” implies that you have possession of the certification, but it also has the connotation of your hard work.

Because of this connotation of effort and hard work, you should probably use it only in contexts where that makes sense, so for example a certification that you got after doing an exam.

These are some example sentences so you can see different variations of “earn a certification”:

  1. He earned a certification in ballroom dancing with this dancing academy that’s downtown.
  2. I want to earn a certification for actual professional therapy but it’s a lot of hard work to do so.
  3. Maybe earning a certification for a random job is something to consider doing soon.
  4. You should earn a certification in gastronomy because it enables you to become a critic.
  5. She was earning her certification in helicopter driving up until last year, when she took a break.

Obtain a Certification

“Obtain a certification” is perhaps one of if not the most useful ways to state that you have gotten a certification in something. This is because it’s fully grammatically correct, and the term “obtain” is formal but also straightforward, and transmits the intended message in a simple way.

Any person could say that they “obtained a certification” in something, no matter what they were talking about, and it’d be a phrase that would make sense.

It’s an extremely versatile phrase, useful for talking with friends, but also appropriate for business emails and more formal ways of communication.

Here are a few example sentences that will show you how to use “obtain a certification” in different ways:

  1. I’m going to obtain a certification to be able to drive that truck.
  2. If you want to be an airplane pilot, you have to obtain a certification to do so.
  3. She obtained a certification to be a licensed physical therapist late last year.
  4. He was obtaining a certification in marketing at the time using some online course he found.
  5. If you log onto the website you can obtain a certification for the essays after a test.

Achieve a Certification

A similar construction to “earn a certification”, “achieve a certification” is a fully grammatically correct and valid expression, but one that should be saved for specific contexts that are worthy of the weight of the term “achieve”.

You see, when you say that you “achieve” a certification, you’re saying that it was an “achievement”. This implies that, on some level, this is an amazing, commendable act, that couldn’t have been easy.

Therefore, “achieve a certification” is best saved for when a certification was genuinely hard, and the obtaining of it is an act to be celebrated.

If you’re curious on how to use “achieve a certification” and its variations, here are some examples:

  1. He achieved a certification in data gathering in half the time that my degree took.
  2. I’m going to achieve a certification in culinary sciences no matter who thinks I won’t.
  3. He was achieving a certification in corporate sciences, doing an exam, when he received the call.
  4. I’ll have achieved a certification in public speaking by the time this course is done.
  5. It’s smart to achieve a certification in whatever degree you’re interested in at this time.

Receive a Certification

“Receive a certification” is a grammatically correct and valid phrasing of the obtaining of a certification, and it places particular emphasis upon the granting of the certification from the institution unto the person in question.

The word “receive” frames the entire act of obtaining a certification around the fact that someone, usually an institution, is granting you this certification, and that you, in turn, are receiving it.

These example sentences are great ways to learn how to use “receive a certification”:

  1. I received a certification in screenwriting from doing this class.
  2. She was receiving her certification in industrial relations when the earth shook.
  3. I’m going to be receiving my certification in journalism in a few weeks.
  4. You have to be aware that I received my certification in data science a month ago.
  5. He’s going to receive a certification in film studies granted by the local foundation.

Which Is Used The Most?

According to the vast amounts of information gathered by the Google Ngram Viewer, “obtain a certification” is by far the most popular of all the commonly used variations. By contrast, “achieve a certification” is the least common of the variations.

Get Earn Obtain Receive Achieve a Certification

The variations, as ordered from most popular to least popular, are “obtain a certification”, “get a certification”, “receive a certification”, “earn a certification” and “achieve a certification”.

This information has been gathered since the year 1900, and it showcases how initially, “obtain a certification” was at par with the others.

However, in the 1940s, “obtain a certification” had an initial popularity spike, which was then compounded by another spike in the 1960s, creating a lead that hasn’t yet been diminished.