When was the Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) developed, and
CRC was developed in Virginia in 2004 as an economic development
tool for Governor Mark Warner. Because workforces are mobile
and workers need a portable skills credential, a CRC Consortium
of seven states was formed in 2004. In the 2004 CRC Consortium
charter document, the term Career Readiness Certificate and
the levels of certification are defined.
The CRC was created as a state governor’s initiative and
so the name makes no reference to the assessments used or to
From 2004 to 2006, the number of states involved in issuance
of the CRC Consortium increased to 42. During those years, CRC
recipients used their Career Readiness Certificates for the
purposes of employment or promotion, carrying their credential
across state lines when necessary to obtain employment.
The CRC Consortium has now grown to 47 states.
May any state or organization use the name Career Readiness
Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) name and logo may only
be used by an organization if it has been licensed to do so
through a signed licensing agreement with the National Organization
for Career Credentialing (NOCC)SM. (see # 25).
If a licensing agreement is on file with the NOCC, the licensed
organization may display the name and logo on certificates,
in promotional materials and on associated web sites in accordance
with the prescribed technical specifications listed in the
A licensing agreement will be made available to any organization
that wishes to issue a Career Readiness Certificate that complies
with the definition shown in the CRC Consortium charter document,
There are three levels of the CRC credential based on the
certification of skills attainment on WorkKeys® assessments
in Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading
For Information. WorkKeys is a product of ACT, Inc™
and scores on the assessments are certified by ACT.
The levels of skills attainment on the three assessments are
Level 3 (Bronze), Level 4 (Silver), and Level 5 (Gold).
The licensing agreement will not preclude the use of organization-
or state-specific names. (e.g. Virginia Career Readiness Certificate)
The licensing agreement will not limit or determine the design
of CRC certificates.
The CRC name and logo must not be used on any certification
that includes additional assessments beyond the three WorkKeys
assessments and skill levels specified in b. above.
A licensed organization may continue to use the CRC name and
logo if an extension of the CRC is approved by the NOCC. An
extension refers to the addition of any other professional
assessment to the three WorkKeys assessments that define the
CRC to create a CRC Plus (written CRC+).
Licensing agreements are available at no cost to the licensee,
will have a term of one year, and may be renewed by the NOCC
on review of current usage.
The NOCC Board of Directors may determine if a proposed use
of the term Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) meets those
requirements. Decisions of the Board are final.
of March 2009, thirty six (36) states and organizations have
been licensed by the NOCC to use the name Career Readiness
Certificate. Representatives of eleven more states have expressed
interest in deploying the CRC and are members of the CRCC.
States and organizations that have been licensed to use the
name for statewide or local deployment of the CRC are:
Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Oklahoma,
Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Alabama,
Alaska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri, Washington,
Mississippi, Wyoming, Oregon, Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan,
Utah, Nevada, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, Hawaii, Texas
(Houston Community College System and Northeast Lakeview College,
San Antonio), Pennsylvania (Central Pennsylvania Workforce
Development Corporation), Illinois (Chicago Public Schools
and McHenry Community College), New York (Rochester Works!
and Syracuse University), Arizona, North Dakota.
Who may issue the CRC?
CRC may be issued: 1) as a statewide credential; 2) by any professional
organization; or 3) by a private organization.
a statewide initiative, the CRC should be issued by a workforce
development system partner such as the governor’s office,
a government agency (e.g. Department of Commerce, Labor or
Economic Development) or the community college system.
the CRC initiative is not statewide, then any organization
may issue the CRC. For example, in several states, local WIBs,
individual community colleges, chambers of commerce, high
schools, and private companies have issued thousands of CRCs.
Is the CRC truly portable?
Even if an employer has never heard of WorkKeys assessments
, he/she can read on the back of the CRC the certified skills
that a person has. These skills are needed everywhere so, regardless
of who issues the CRC and in what state, it is accepted everywhere
I have heard that the only truly nationally portable CRC is
the National CRC issued by ACT, Inc®. Is this true?
The CRC was developed and implemented in a consortium of states
in January, 2004 (see #1). From 2004 to 2006, the number of
states involved in the CRC movement increased to 42. During
those years, CRC recipients used their Career Readiness Certificates
in any state for the purposes of employment or promotion.
ACT announced the creation of the National Career Readiness
Certificate™ (NCRC) in September 2006. They used the
definition of the CRC established in the 2004 Career Readiness
Certificate Consortium charter document as the basis for the
In definition, the NCRC is exactly equivalent to any other
CRC issued in this country except that it has the vendor’s
name and logo on the face of the certificate.
It is no more portable than any other CRC.
issue was addressed in a 2008 article in Inside Higher
Who should lead a state initiative?
state initiative needs a “Champion” and the best
one is the governor. Alternatives are: Lieutenant Governor,
a member of the cabinet, the Chair of the SWIB, the state chamber
of commerce, labor unions, and professional associations.
How much does the CRC cost?
states are setting a standard price for the CRC at $45. This
includes all assessments, the certificate + 5 copies, and in
some cases, a laminated CRC “pocket” card.
Who should sign the CRC?
state certificate should be signed by someone who is known and
recognized in the state. The best person to sign the CRC is
the governor but it may also be signed by some other easily
identified person with some status and authority within the
Is the CRC equivalent to a high school diploma, or any other
the CRC is based on criterion-referenced (performance-based)
assessments, it is a measure of what a person can DO rather
than what a person KNOWS. It is more useful to think of the
CRC as a complementary credential to the high school diploma.
It is especially beneficial when it is used as an exit credential
for Career & Technical Education students, or to quickly
certify the skills of displaced workers.
Is it legal to use the CRC in the hiring process?
as long as it is not the sole discriminator or selection tool.
Can the CRC be awarded to people with disabilities or to non-English
Can the CRC be awarded to the incarcerated?
but training may not be done on-line.
How do you create employer demand for the CRC?
respond best to results. So, even if an employer has not heard
of WorkKeys assessments or the CRC, he/she will be impressed
with high quality job applicants and with demonstrated ROI data.
Once they find out that the CRC can give them a competitive
edge, employers will demand it.
Does an employer have to be using WorkKeys® profiles before
he/she can use the CRC?
An employer who has not used profiling can ask for the CRC during
the hiring process as a guide to applicant quality.
How do you get and keep employers engaged in the CRC initiative?
advice has been that, in order to maximize employer participation
in any function, organizers must realize that private sector
representatives work on schedules that generally limit meeting
attendance to about 90 minutes. In fact, the best way to maximize
employer attendance is to host meetings that span breakfast,
lunch or dinner times, and to ensure that the meetings start
and end on time.
are looking for employees who are trainable, and they are
often frustrated by the poor quality of the applicants who
respond to job postings. They are too often disillusioned
with the public education and workforce development systems,
and while they are usually sympathetic to efforts to assist
the chronically unemployed, they do not see these people as
being the pipeline for their businesses.
the CRC concept is first introduced to employers therefore,
it is essential that these realities be taken into account.
If a vendor, an educator, or even a high ranking professional
presents the CRC as “the answer”, many employers
will be turned off the CRC as “just another education
project”. Similarly, if the message is delivered by
a vendor or workforce development professional, employers
may well misinterpret the CRC as another “feel good”
or revenue generating initiative.
is also important to realize that, once employers accept and
become enthusiastic about a new initiative, they want it implemented
immediately. It is best not to include employers in CRC discussions
unless and until you are ready to begin work on its development.
respond best to data that show a positive impact on their
bottom line. So, there are important things to communicate
at the outset:
• The CRC will save employers money when used as a pre-screening
hiring tool during the hiring process. The workforce development
system will assist an employer at no cost if that employer
requests only job applicants with a specified level of the
• The CRC is a credential that will certify what a person
of any age and any educational background can DO rather than
what they KNOW. That means that an employer will be able to
judge whether an applicant is trainable, either in an entry-level
position or when being considered for a promotion.
• The CRC is a legally defensible tool that is also
EEOC and ADA compliant.
• The CRC will not cost the employer anything, unless
he/she chooses to offer the assessments to potential or incumbent
employees at his/her cost.
messages are best delivered by an employer who is already
using the CRC. Testimonials from other employers about savings
during hiring, OJT, etc. send a powerful message.
What if an employer has never heard of WorkKeys assessments?
Can a job applicant still use it during the hiring process?
See Question 4.
How does the CRC save an employer money?
requiring a specified level of the CRC during the hiring process,
an employer can better assess whether the applicant has the
basic skills needed on the job. Knowing this, time and money
are saved by not interviewing or hiring applicants who are
not suited to the job. Also, when a new employee enters a
job with the required skill level, OJT requires less time
and is more effective.
the CRC is used as a promotional tool, the employer saves
time and money by training an employee ONLY in the skill areas
required for the new job. This process is also objective and
so may save money by providing a buffer against litigation.
How do you get educators involved with and excited about the
educators want to do the very best that they can for their students.
If the benefits of the CRC are made clear, if the CRC message
is inclusive (for all students), and positive (a complement
not a rival to the high school diploma), if they can be assured
that the CRC will enhance the chances of success for their students
and their school’s reputation, and will not increase their
teaching burden, educators are usually supportive.
How old does someone have to be to take the WorkKeys assessments?
is best not to use WorkKeys assessments with anyone under the
age of 14, i.e. it should not be given to students below the
9th grade. Most schools consider 10th grade to be a good starting
point. There is no upper age limit.
Why is the CRC referred to as a complementary credential?
credentials measure what a person knows. The CRC certifies that
a person knows how to apply that knowledge in the workplace.
So, the CRC complements (“completes”) any academic
What is the “life” of a CRC?
the skill requirements of a job never change, the level of CRC
does not need to be revisited. However, it is recommended that
the assessments be re-administered after five years. If the
skill requirements of a job change frequently or significantly,
the CRC level should be re-assessed at least annually.
Why were only three WorkKeys assessments used to define the
ACT Occupational database shows that the three chosen assessments
were used in more than 85% of the 14,000 job profiles conducted
nationwide across all industry sectors.
What is a Platinum CRC?
employers are interested in assessing skills at levels higher
than Level 5. Consequently, in some instances, the three assessments
at level 6 are referred to as a Platinum level CRC.
What is a CRC+?
order to refer to a certificate as a Career Readiness Certificate,
an organization must use ONLY the three WorkKeys assessments
at the levels defined by the CRC Consortium in 2004. If other
assessments of any kind are added, the certificate must be referred
to as a CRC+
What is the connection between the NOCC and the CRC Consortium?
National Organization for Career Credentialing™ (NOCC)
is a non-profit corporation that focuses on informing and educating
the public about career credentials. It is comprised of two
centers: the Center for the Career Readiness Certificate Consortium
(CRCC), and the Center for Excellence in Practice. The NOCC
hosts an organization-wide web site and also a web site specific
to the CRC Consortium. NOCC staff provides assistance with deployment
of the CRC, and develops and issues electronic newsletters that
include news from the CRCC.
The NOCC is supported solely by public donations.