PHAP Credentialing Program


UPDATE 2 November 2016: Following the validation surveys for the three areas, which gathered more than 1000 responses, the Committees of Experts for each of the areas finalized the certification outlines. If you are preparing to take part in one of the beta-tests of the certification assessments, you can download the outlines below as part of your preparations.


Responding to long-standing concerns about capacity issues across the humanitarian sector, PHAP is launching a new program in the area of individual standards and recognition of competency. The PHAP Credentialing Program combines the established and rigorous international standard for professional credentials – the ISO/IEC 17024:2012 standard for personnel certification – with solutions that meet the specific needs of the humanitarian sector, structuring the program around a number of narrower certifications in specific areas of knowledge and skills. The three certifications currently under development, to be launched in 2017, will provide a robust yet inexpensive means for humanitarian practitioners to demonstrate competencies and for employers to know whether staff members or job candidates possess specific knowledge or skills, while reinforcing high standards of commitment and competence at the individual level.

Main features of the Credentialing Program


PHAP has conducted extensive environmental scanning and surveying of practitioner and employer needs over the course of 2016, with more than 5,000 complete responses in total. The program has been designed specifically to meet the needs – and address the concerns – identified through this process.


The Credentialing Program intends to support employers’ efforts to assess competencies and for individuals to demonstrate them. Complementing other methods of assessment and recognition, and covering specific areas of competence rather than a full professional role, it is not a license to practice.

Sector-wide applicability

Focusing on objective and transversal knowledge and skills, the initial set of certifications will cover:

  • Understanding the humanitarian ecosystem
  • International legal frameworks for humanitarian action
  • Applying humanitarian principles in practice

Future certifications may cover areas of more specific relevance to people in certain professional roles.

Independent assessment

The certification assessments do not require participation in specific training or education programs. This allows for a wide range of learning providers and methodologies – as well as self-guided learning – and makes the certifications a flexible solution that ensures quality, minimizes duplication of training, and improves access and affordability to robust, meaningful credentials. The certification specifications are shared openly for training and education providers to be able to adjust existing or develop new offerings, as they see fit.

Based in actual practice

The certifications are compliant with the international standard for bodies operating certifications of persons: ISO/IEC 17024:2012 and the development process is guided by international certification and assessment experts. The standard ensures that the certification reflects actual practice by a process led by a representative committee of experts and a large group of practitioners validating the body of knowledge.

Trustworthy results

All certification assessments are invigilated/proctored. The assessment instruments are monitored over time and adjusted to ensure a high validity and reliability across different groups and contexts. Those holding the certification are issued with an easily verifiable digital certificate.

Continued relevance

To ensure that they reflect current realities, the certifications are reviewed and renewed on an annual basis. To ensure that an individual’s knowledge stays up to date, re-certification is required according to a schedule determined by the certification committee. Maintaining certification is also linked to continuous learning activities for the individual.

Free self-assessment option

As a complement to the certification option, a self-assessment option is also being developed. Although not invigilated/proctored and no certification is issued, this serves as a free option for individuals to demonstrate proficiency in an area. It also serves as a diagnostic tool, indicating where an individual should focus their learning efforts. Through providing explanations of why answer options are correct or incorrect, the self-assessment can also serve as a learning tool.

Why certification?

For affected people

  • A robust way to improve accountability to affected people
  • Provides a tool for building capacity across the humanitarian sector
  • Reduces waste of limited resources

For practitioners

  • A robust method of demonstrating professionalism, commitment, knowledge, and skill
  • Flexible choice of learning methods, including capturing on-the-job learning
  • Possibility to have existing skills and knowledge recognized

For agencies

  • A flexible set of tools for recruitment and staff development
  • Identify gaps and focus staff development resources where most needed
  • A way to demonstrate organizational effectiveness and live up to commitments

For training and education providers

  • Relevant, up-to-date, practice-based body of knowledge for curriculum development
  • Increase value of existing training and education offerings by adding trusted and robust assessments
  • Provide motivation and recognition to course and training participants



Sep-Oct 2016: Certification scheme drafting
Oct 2016:  Cross-sector validation survey
Nov 2016:  Certification scheme finalization and assessment drafting
Dec 2016: Assessment finalization
Spring 2017: Certification assessment and self-assessment launch


Nishanie Jayamaha
Credentialing Program Manager
+41 22 518 04 58 ext. 3000


The International Association of Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (PHAP), established in 2010, is the individual-based professional association bringing together all parts of the humanitarian sector, with a mission is to empower capable and informed professionals to transform humanitarian action. One of the typical functions of a professional association, such as PHAP, is to offer professional credentials – attesting that individuals have the minimum necessary knowledge, skills, and experience to be considered competent in their field. The PHAP Credentialing Program is made possible through the Collaboration Center for Recognition of Skills, Experience, and Learning in Humanitarian Action, an initiative of the CHS Alliance, the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, and PHAP. The Center, hosted by PHAP and funded by the Academy, aims to coordinate and support the development of means and methods of formal recognition of practitioners in the humanitarian sector.