Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies


Occupational and Technical Studies

Committee Director

John M. Ritz

Committee Member

Michael Kosloski

Committee Member

Steven Myran


Industry certification of workplace skills is emerging as a key educational movement for career and technical education programs. Many states are now integrating credentialing into their programs with the goal of preparing students with labor market advantages. However, there is little empirical evidence to support the notion that obtaining an industry certification provides students with employability advantages. As a result, the purpose of this study is to collect and analyze empirical data to determine whether obtaining an industry credential can assist a prospective student with job obtainment.

This dissertation examines the use of the National Retail Foundation (NRF) Customer Service and Sales Certifications for high school marketing education students. The first research objective is to determine if the NRF industry certifications provided marketing students with any employability advantages. Second, the research sought to discover other hiring criteria that were viewed as favorable by retail store managers. Finally, the study also explored to determine if employability advantages of industry certification differed among small and large retailers.

One-hundred ninety hiring managers (n =190) completed a survey identifying the importance of twenty-six hiring criteria, how favorably they viewed the NRF certifications, and their previous knowledge of NRF certifications. It was determined that industry certification was not viewed as an important criteria when hiring a prospective employee. It was also determined that a majority of the employers did not ask about industry certification during the interviewing process and that they possessed little previous awareness of NRF certifications. Finally, it could not be determined if differences in hiring preferences existed between the three different malls or large and small retailers, as the response rate of was not significant for large retailers.


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