What’s The Difference Between Certification, Accreditation, and Licensing

A few things can get cloudy when talking about wound certifications, accreditations, and licensing. Sometimes, businesses can even purposely be vague with what they offer, leading consumers to make inaccurate conclusions. WoundEducators is here to set the record straight for you. 

What is a Certification? 

certification accreditation

A ‘certification’ is simple – it’s a tool used to signify that someone passed an exam. It’s a clear way to measure or show someone’s competence. 

Certifications may be required, or they may be optional. In some locations, certification is a requirement for employment or practice. 

Wound Care Certification 

To achieve a legitimate accredited wound care certification, you must be nationally certified through either the American Board of Wound Management (ABWM), the Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing Board (WOCNCB), or the National Alliance Wound Care Ostomy (NAWCO). This certification only happens after: 

  1. All specific requirements are met
  2. Applications are submitted
  3. The National exam(s) are scheduled
  4. The National exam(s) are passed

For example, you can use Wound Educators courses and practice exams to prepare you for the CWCA, CWS, CWSP, WCC, AWCC, or CWCN certifications. WoundEducators and the credentialing organizations (ABWM, NAWCCB, and WOCNCB) are separate companies that operate independently of each other. 

Certification and Certificates 

Certification and Certificates are different things although the words are very similar. 

Make sure that any certificate offered is not being mistaken for a certification. Companies can have their own brand-name certification that is not nationally recognized or accredited – it’s simply a certificate. 

Two examples of companies that offer ‘wound care certification’ that simply is viewed as a completion certificate include:

  • Vohra
  • SNF Wound Care

You will still need to choose a wound care certification exam and pass it, which can add an extra cost that you may be unprepared for if it’s not disclosed upfront. 

The Difference Between Certification and Licensure 

Licensing or licensure can be thought of as mandatory certification. Think about passing your original NCLEX and becoming a nurse. You had to apply through your state licensing boards and pass the NCLEX exam

Many wound certifications list having an active license as a prerequisite to sit for the exam. This means if you are an RN you must have an active RN license to apply for the CWS exam (among other prerequisites!)


Currently, there are no accredited wound care certifications that are offered without the official application and exam process. Why? This is the only standardized way to maintain the national standard set forth and ensure candidates truly know wound management! Generally, accreditation only happens when the exam organization is independent of the study or course material. Accreditation is done through an independent agency that is not the course provider or the exam provider- to keep it fair. 

National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) is the accreditation organization that reviews certifications and makes sure they follow all guidelines set forth by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). 

If you’re still following along, see where WoundEducators fits into all this talk on certificates, credentialing, certification, and accreditation. 

Does Wound Educators Offer Wound Care Certificates or Certification?

When you finish the WoundEducators online wound care certification course and pass the course exam, you receive a course completion certificate. This certificate shows you possess the necessary wound management knowledge covered in the course. This does not mean you are wound care certified YET – you still need to sit for the professional exam and gain the “official certification”, or licensure. 

You’re still on track! This course completion certificate can be used to leverage more experience with your current employer, distinguish yourself from your colleagues, or help you pursue a different job that has more wound-care-related responsibilities. You will also get up to 60 CE hours upon receiving the course completion certificate. 

WoundEducators wound care courses are also independently accredited and approved for continuing education hours. Quality is important when investing in your wound care education, and we made sure to do it right. 

WoundEducators Offers the Most Flexibility with Wound Certification

We aim to always be transparent with our students and help guide them to choose the best wound care certification for their current role, experience and desired career path. As a result, you can use our course to prepare you for ANY nationally accredited wound certification exam. We know students will have to pay for the exam, so our course is priced below the national average to accommodate for the extra cost! If you need help deciding which course or which nationally accredited certification is right for you, contact us and we can help you navigate. 


  1. Hi there, I am a LPN with 5 years of wound care experience. I will like to know if after I complete this course I will be ready for the State of Florida license.

  2. Howdy! I’m an LVN in the state of California. I’m a little confused on how to attain my wound care certification through a board because the requirements have me a tad stumped. So if I’m going through NAWCO and get my WCC certification, I still need 2 years full time experience or 120 hours hands on clinical training with a NAWCO APPROVED preceptor? Once I attain my WCC and 2 years experience, I’m eligible to sit for the wound care board?

    1. Genevieve, You will need 2 years of experience and meet the educational requirement for the WCC. Our LVN course qualifies as the educational component necessary. The WCC is an accredited wound certification. Once you have three years of experience, you can sit for the CWCA exam, which is also an accredited wound certification offered by the ABWM. The WCC is valid for five years and the CWCA is valid for ten. If you need any additional help, we are here for you. Our LVN course will prepare you for both certifications.

  3. Hello, I’m working as Hospitalist physician. I’m interested to learn more about wound care and get the certification to practice wound care. Please suggest necessary steps. Thank you in advance!

  4. Thank you so much for your prompt response! I have been interested in a wound certification for about 10 years now. I am excited to see what you have.
    Thanks again!

  5. Hi I am and Lvn/Lpn I have been for 6yrs now and i am in Neveda, I originally came from California and am still licensed there as well. My question is what board certification will best fit for me if i attend your program?

    1. Hey Jai,

      You can take our LPN course to prepare for either the WCC or the CWCA. Both are nationally accredited certification, but you must have an active license to submit for either. You can preview the requirements for these on our Compare Certifications page or view the full requirements for each of these either on their respective website pages (ABWM for CWCA and NAWCCB for WCC). Best of luck!

  6. Hello,
    I am a Canadian RPN for about 5 years now, what is the best course of action to begin a wound care course and what board exam do you suggest? Does this course allow me the same education for wound care in Canada?

  7. I’m not clear on the differences between the CWCA, CWS and the WCC other than eligibility, cost, # of questions and certification duration (thank you for the awesome comparison chart!). Which exam/certification is better? Are they looked at differently (ie is one is superior to another or has a more respected reputation). The CWS is more expensive than the CWCA…why? is this a superior designation? Also, is there any utility in being certified in more than one or does it only matter to have just any of them? Of note: I’m a surgical PA for the past 15 years and have worked with and treated many wounds, but I’m excited to get a more formalized training through your course for PAs and then get officially certified.

  8. Hi,
    I am working in the health care field and actually is searching for a wound care specialist for feet and ankles sores which do not heal. I know you are an educational organization to certificate wound care specialists but please let me know where I can find a would care specialist.. IS there a national wound care organization that can help with my search ? I am in New York City.
    Any comments would be appreciated. Thank you for your time and help.

  9. Trying diligently to get pass the Wound Care certification test. Have 1 more chance before I have to wait the 6 mos. Is there a good study guide you can suggest. Working full time, & couple weeks ago had L2-3 herniated disc worked on I really want to get pass this test.

    1. Bidget,

      Have you enrolled in one of our online wound care certification courses? Our course provides you with a six-month course access and all the information you need to feel confident you can pass the wound certification of your choice. Our courses provide e-textbooks, study guides, quizzes, videos, and more. We also provide an Until You Pass Guarantee and will hold your course open in the event you do not pass your exam. Please reach out to us with any questions you may have.

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