Product Certifications: Definition and Types

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 26, 2021

Manufacturers and customers rely on product certifications to sell and purchase products. Certification ensures compliance with all the necessary regulations and performance tests. Understanding the process of product certification can help businesses develop and prepare their goods accordingly, while also encouraging trust from customers. In this article, we explain what a product certification is and why it's important for companies and consumers and explore the various types of product certifications available.

What is product certification?

Product certification is proof that a specific product complies with all the required regulations or stipulations present within a contract or by an independent, national, or international organization. This proof also demonstrates the fulfillment of the various quality assurance and performance tests. Most marketplaces require product certifications to distribute, feature, and sell a particular product.

An efficient way to identify a product's certification is to look for a certification or conformity mark. The mark typically appears on the backside of a product. Once you find it, you can search for the type of certification alongside the criteria a product fulfills.

Why is product certification important?

Product certification communicates to industries and customers that a particular product is safe to use or purchase. It creates confidence and trust that a product functions correctly, which can create customer satisfaction. For example, suppose you're a parent looking for a gift to buy for your child. You may be more likely to purchase a toy or electronic device with a product certification instead of a product without one.

Who uses product certifications?

Any industry or business specializing in developing, manufacturing, or selling a product goes through the product certification process. These products can range from foods to electrical components to construction machinery. The certification process depends on the targeted market and is subject to national and international laws and standards. There are various certification organizations responsible for handling product certification focusing on different industries. For example, the FDA focuses primarily on food and medicine certifications, whereas the FCC deals with electronic equipment and components.

The professional responsible for guiding companies and their team is a product manager. Product managers identify and align business objectives with customers' needs to ensure a product can fulfill them. They work to increase the profitability of a company's existing products and oversee the development of a company's new products. By conducting research of specific markets, they help advise businesses about the various regulations, quality assurance, and performance tests a product must pass before entering the market.

Related: What Is a Product Manager?

Types of product certifications

Product certifications cover a wide range of businesses and industries. As a result, many organizations are responsible for testing and certifying a product. The criteria for certification are subject to change depending on national or international regulations. Here are five types of product certifications:

Food and drug administration (FDA)

The FDA is a U.S. government agency responsible for the efficacy and safety of products, such as foods, medicines, cosmetics, medical devices, and tobacco products. Any company that manufactures and sells these products must have FDA approval or FDA clearance. Companies submit clinical results and a premarket approval application (PMA) for an FDA approval, demonstrating that their products' benefits surpass its risks. For an FDA clearance, companies provide information showing that their product is similar to another legally marketed product with an FDA clearance or approval.

Federal communications commission (FCC)

The FCC declaration of conformity is a certification mark mandatory for electronics, such as medical devices and IT equipment sold and manufactured in the United States. This organization is responsible for setting the standards regarding electromagnetic interference. If an international company or manufacturer wishes to sell an electronic product in the U.S., it must also seek the FCC certification.

Related: Technical Product Management Defined

CE marking

It's a legal requirement for businesses or manufacturers seeking to sell their products within the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) to have the CE marking. This marking is a certification for non-food products that comply with the EU's product safety, health, and environmental requirements. CE marking is a part of the EU's harmonization legislation, and the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, and SMEs manages it.

BIFMA

The Business Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) develops and maintains safety and performance standards for furniture products. BIFMA helps educate manufacturers on sustainability practices and the significance of industry standards and codes. They also participate in the development of international furniture product standards.

IECEE CB Scheme

The IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components (IECEE) is a multilateral agreement among various countries and certification organizations. It specializes in testing the safety, quality, and consistency of electronic components, products, and equipment. The IECEE facilitates trade and adherence to national and international standards between countries in North America, Europe, and parts of Asia.

BAP

Best Agricultural Practices (BAP) is a certification program that helps certify every component or step of the production chain. BAP sets the standards for farms, fishing hatcheries, and feed mills, providing education, advocacy, and third-party assurances. Through BAP's certification process, businesses can verify that their producers follow the appropriate practices to safely and responsibly deliver farmed seafood to customers.

Related: 15 Jobs in Food Sustainability

UL certification

Underwriters' Laboratories (UL) is a safety science organization based in more than 100 countries. They test and evaluate system components and products, like automotive materials, audible devices, power supplies, plastics, and medical devices. UL also provides manufacturers with advice about how to improve their products to achieve regulatory compliance. The UL certification is the standard in numerous industries, such as energy and utilities, retail, technology and electronics, chemicals and materials, government services, buildings and construction, and life safety and security. Here are some of the product certifications UL offers:

  • Electric vehicles and infrastructure

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Robotics safety, security, and performance

  • Electrical medical devices

  • Fire sprinklers

  • Radios for wireless devices

  • Sustainability

  • Recycled plastics

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Browse more articles