Key characteristics of the PHAP Credentialing Program

Certification that meets the specific needs of the humanitarian sector

Responding to long-standing concerns about capacity issues across the humanitarian sector, PHAP has launched a new program in the area of professional standards and recognition of competencies. The PHAP Credentialing Program combines the established 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 concept of modular certifications in specific areas of knowledge and ability. The first three certifications developed according to this model, launched in April 2017, 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 ability, while reinforcing high standards of commitment and competence at the individual level.

Main features of the Credentialing Program


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

Voluntary and complementary

The certifications offered through the Credentialing Program support and complement the existing efforts of employers to assess competencies and of individuals to demonstrate them. They do not put up barriers to practice but rather offer additional tools to promote and build capacity in the sector.

Sector-wide applicability

Focusing on objective and transversal knowledge and skills, the certifications cover:

  • Understanding the humanitarian ecosystem
  • International legal frameworks for humanitarian action
  • Applying humanitarian principles in practice
  • Cash and voucher assistance
  • Humanitarian needs assessment
  • Monitoring, evaluation, accountability, and learning (MEAL)

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 to and affordability of 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 representing all parts of the humanitarian community 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 and shareable digital certificate/badge.

Continued relevance

To ensure that they continue to 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. To re-certify, individuals have a choice of either undergoing re-assessment or participating in a certain number of hours of relevant continuing education.


For more information about the distinguishing characteristics of the program, read in detail in the Candidate Handbook or contact us at [email protected].


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As a proud member of ICE, we stay informed on best practices in developing and administering quality certification programs so that we may better serve you.

PHAP is proud to be a member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence in show of our support of the credentialing community and our commitment to strive for excellence in our certification programs.


Practitioner Competencies Learning Center logo

The PHAP Credentialing Program is made possible through the Practitioner Competencies Learning Center, a joint initiative of the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, CHS Alliance, and PHAP working to develop solutions that strengthen competency-based approaches in the humanitarian sector at the individual and organizational level.