Using a Job Analysis to Design & Market Credentialing Programs

If your association offers (or plans to offer) a credentialing program, you know all about job analysis—or should know. Job analysis is the best way to connect the content of your credentialing or education program to the requirements for a specific job in the profession or industry your association serves.

What is a job analysis?

Here’s the quick and dirty definition.

A job analysis identifies and describes the responsibilities, tasks, skills, knowledge, and other competencies required to successfully perform a specific job. When conducting a job analysis, you rank these tasks on their difficulty, importance, and frequency; identify the equipment required to do the job; and document the typical work environment and conditions.

Associations use a mix of methods to conduct a job analysis.

•    Discussions with a panel of subject matter experts who have extensive knowledge of the job
•    Interviews, focus groups, and surveys of employees in that role
•    Interviews, focus groups, and surveys with their supervisors
•    Observation of employees performing tasks either in-person or via video
•    Work diary or log
•    Review of job descriptions and training materials
•    Research to gather background information and understand trends and developments in the profession

The goal is to identify the competencies needed to perform the tasks required for the job—not only the skills, but the knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes required for successful performance.

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How associations use a job analysis

Associations primarily use the findings of a job analysis to develop and update credentialing exams and education programs. You need the information discovered during the analysis to ensure the exam accurately reflects the competencies necessary to competently perform the job.

A job analysis is required by credentialing bodies. The National Commission on Certifying Agencies (NCCA) describes it as “the cornerstone of any sound, legally defensible credentialing program.” Your association must conduct a job analysis to ensure the validity and integrity of your credentialing exam and program. It helps your association:

•    Identify content for the credentialing exam.
•    Document the link between the job and the credentialing exam.
•    Determine how to update the credentialing program and exam content.

When a needs assessment identifies unmet market needs, you can then determine which industry job roles merit their own credentials or courses in your curriculum. The next step is a job analysis.

A job analysis is especially useful when designing and marketing education and credentialing programs for early-career professionals. It ensures employers that program participants have the necessary level of competence for the role in question.

The role of members and employers in a job analysis project

Members and volunteers who sit on the job analysis panel contribute insights about the competencies required in the job role, based on their personal experience performing the job or supervising a person in that role. They can also help interview or observe professionals in the role.

The questionnaires used to survey employees can be quite lengthy, requiring hours of the individual’s time. Most associations offer incentives to survey participants. But first, make sure you explain the importance of the survey’s purpose, how you will use their feedback, and how it will help different industry stakeholders. Consider offering CE credit or promo credit (discounts) for education programs.

Some associations only send job analysis surveys for existing credentialing programs to those who are already certified. These surveys reveal if the previously identified competencies are still relevant and necessary, if any competencies have become obsolete, and if the program content and exam should include any new competencies that reflect current practice.

job analysis

What else you need to know about job analysis

How often do you do a job analysis? According to the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), most associations take a staggered approach, so they can update each section of the exam every three to seven years.

However, the need for job analysis may increase in frequency as changing technology and conditions affect job performance or as the role itself changes. As new market needs arise and new job roles emerge, the need for job analysis follows.

Who can help you with job analysis? Associations usually work with a testing company to conduct job analysis and provide test development, validation, and psychometric analysis.

Where can you learn more? The ICE and NCCA websites are the best places to start. These two resources are especially helpful.

•    Article: Job Analysis: Beyond the Basics from ICE

•    Study: Job Analysis Research Report from ICE ($40/$60)

The ICE report is based on a job analysis practitioner survey that covered “current practices, new technologies being explored, survey construction and psychometric practices,” including “how frequently organizations conduct job analyses and what methods are used” and costs of conducting a job analysis, survey incentives, and response rates.

A Google search will lead you to many associations who share their job analysis reports on their websites. These reports usually describe the methodology, number and demographics of survey participants, and more.

A job analysis validates the relevance and integrity of your credentialing program. It lays out the facts and proves you’re the organization that truly knows the industry, down to the nitty-gritty details of what happens on the job.

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