What Is NOCTI?

NOCTI — the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute — is an American certifying body that tests students on their abilities to perform the skills needed in a career.

Founded in 1966, NOCTI started from a grant issued by the United States Commissioner of Education as the certifying body for states that needed help developing a skills-based workforce.

NOCTI officially incorporated in 1973 when it registered as a not-for-profit corporation.

Originally, NOCTI only tested the knowledge and skills of career and technical education (CTE) teachers. But in 1979, NOCTI expanded to include student testing in high schools and colleges.

Now, NOCTI has grown their capabilities and reputation to the point where they’re one of the most respected certifying institutions in the United States.

They’re known for creating quality assessments that truly help students start their careers with the best information and skills possible.  

Health science students can learn how to better serve healthcare needs.

Business students can learn how to run a small company to benefit their hometown.

The list goes on and on.

But what’s the point of NOCTI? And why are they so important today when they’ve done so much in the past?

We’ll answer those questions (and more) on this page!

First, let’s start with an overview of why NOCTI exists in the first place.

Why Does NOCTI Exist?


NOCTI is the largest distributor of certifications related to career and technical education (CTE) programs throughout the United States.

They’ve worked in this capacity for more than 50 years from their headquarters in Big Rapids, Michigan. As an organization, they’re concerned with “building a competent workforce through creative learning solutions.”

When you consider all of this together, it’s no wonder NOCTI has stood the test of time for more than half a century.

NOCTI is committed to student outcomes. That means they want your students to be as trained and prepared as possible on the very first day of their future careers.

When a student has a NOCTI certification for their CTE pathway, they’re cleared to start their lives outside of school.

They can earn a solid wage, provide for themselves, and grow into new capacities as their career morphs and changes.

All of this comes from students’ experiences in your classroom, your expert guidance, and the right NOCTI certification.

In a nutshell, NOCTI wants to help students transition from school to their careers as seamlessly and effectively as possible.

But that begs another question — how does NOCTI work?

How Does NOCTI Work?


NOCTI separates its services into two large groups:

  • Certifications, the end result of taking an exam correlated to a certain career choice
  • Peripherals, the add-on products and services to help students, teachers, administrators, and others involved in the certification process

We’ll start by taking a look at how NOCTI creates certification exams.

How NOCTI Creates Certification Exams

NOCTI functions as a certifying agency. Essentially, they do what the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) does by vouching for students who need to enter the workforce but don’t have any real-world experience.

To start, NOCTI offers more than 120 certifications that multiple industries recognize as ready-to-work credentials.

That means NOCTI lays its well-earned reputation on the line to suggest employers hire a student who’s passed all of their exams.

They do that by working closely with teachers and administrators to identify different needs in different areas. In fact, NOCTI is sure to include state requirements and other standards into certification exams for different areas.

Essentially, you have the option to work with NOCTI to get a fully-customized certification exam that’s specific to your program and area.

Also, NOCTI is connected to more than 150 businesses throughout the United States, all of which contribute to NOCTI’s alignment with modern workplace demands.

So when you need to ensure your students get the best start possible in their careers, NOCTI does pretty much all of the difficult legwork.

That lets you focus on doing what you truly excel at doing — teaching.

But there’s still one other product offering NOCTI has for teachers who really want it.

How NOCTI Offers Peripherals

In addition to the actual certifications, NOCTI offers a suite of other products that you can use to teach your students, help them understand how they learn, and even college credit opportunities.

These extra services come at an a la carte fee, but they’re helpful if have the budget to go above and beyond for your students.

For example, psychometric services can help your students understand how their brains work when it comes to processing information and learning.

Since you teach CTE, it’s likely that most of your students learn well with hands-on activities and practice.

But there are tons of different learning methods, and when students know the one that works best for them, they can open thousands of fresh learning opportunities throughout their lives! 

Some other services, like college credit, are important if you send an uncharacteristically high percentage of students from your CTE classes to traditional four-year colleges.

Once your students have college credits — even before they step foot on campus — you can help them excel!

With a NOCTI certification and college credits on their sides, your students can enter higher education with an enormous advantage.

Then again, if your students don’t tend to move onto post-secondary education, you don’t need college credits for your classes.

Instead, you can focus on the certification only.

Either way, before you make decisions about purchasing the peripheral products, you need to know if NOCTI is right for you and your students!

Is NOCTI Right for You?


When you’re deciding whether NOCTI is right for you, start by looking into your state’s list of acceptable test titles for CTE programs. You can get this information by contacting your administrator or a state-level representative.

This information will help you see if there’s a NOCTI assessment aligned to your program. Essentially, it’s the shortcut to discovering whether NOCTI has a compatible assessment for your class.

In addition, you need to know how well NOCTI is received in your state.

NOCTI is used primarily in 12 states:

If you’re in one of those states, it’s likely that NOCTI is available to you as a certification option.

Still, you can use a NOCTI assessment whether you’re in these states or not. The key is understanding how well NOCTI is recognized and acknowledged in your business community.

Next, it’s crucial for you to pick the correct NOCTI assessment for your program.

To do this, NOCTI recommends crosswalking your current curriculum against the assessment blueprints they offer to determine how well your class is aligned to NOCTI standards.

This will show you:

  • How well your program aligns to NOCTI’s standards
  • How much you’d have to change to align to NOCTI’s standards

Then, you’ll have to choose between using a Job Ready assessment or a Pathway assessment.

Job Ready assessments are ideal for students wrapping up their CTE education. Students taking these assessments are judged based on written and performance components. The written portion is available for online administration.

Pathway assessments measure students’ technical, soft, and academic skills related to the occupation they want to earn. These are only administered online, and they’re only available in a written format. This assessment is best for students who’ll continue their CTE careers in upcoming semesters or years.

Once you’ve chosen a NOCTI assessment, it’s time to decide how you want to prepare students for testing.

How Does NOCTI Work with Teachers?


While you can choose any teaching or preparation method you want, NOCTI officially recommends four options:

  • Assessment blueprints

  • Pre-testing

  • Study guides

  • Countdown kits

Each of these resources has its own advantages to helping your students succeed.

Assessment Blueprints

Assessment blueprints give you the specific competencies and skills that are covered in an exam.

You also get sample questions, administration information, and more.

In a nutshell, assessment blueprints tell students how the assessment is structured more than how to pass it.

Still, this lets students see what’s coming down the road. In that way, assessment blueprints help students know what to expect on testing day.


In the context of a NOCTI certification, pre-testing refers to any practice assessment given before students sit for their official certification test. 

So you can administer a pre-test as early as the first day of class or as late as the day before the test!

Pre-tests are excellent ways to gauge your students’ learning progress. They’re primarily used to identify subjects requiring remediation or further explanation before testing day.

Study Guides

Study guides are essentially collections of practice questions that let students understand what kind of questions appear on the test and how they’ll be asked.

Study guides are great for students who have test anxiety. When a student is more familiar with what to expect on testing day, they’re less likely to tense, freeze, or otherwise miss their chance on testing day.

Countdown Kits

Countdown kits are classroom resources that let you count down to testing day as a team!

These kits include posters that highlight different topics and test content so you can spend a little bit of time reviewing with students each day.

You’ll also find study tips, test prep tips, and other information to help first-time test-takers pass their certification exams. 

So with all of that said, we get to the final and most important question!

How are you supposed to help students pass their NOCTI certification exams?

How Do You Prep Students for NOCTI Success?


Currently, most teachers prep their students for NOCTI exams by creating aligned curriculum by hand then scheduling every single instance of testing and review so that their students have the best chance to pass.

But that takes a lot of time. Also, if it’s your first time making a NOCTI-aligned curriculum, it’s difficult to know how successful you’ll be.

This is especially hard in health science pathways because healthcare laws, practices, and regulations change so frequently!

That’s why AES provides a digital curriculum system to help health science instructors prep students for NOCTI certification exams.

Specifically, our digital curriculum helps teachers prep students for NOCTI Health Assisting and NOCTI Medical Assisting assessments, two of the most in-demand certifications in the country right now!

Are you a health science teacher preparing the next generation of health assistants or medical assistants?

Learn how AES can help you and your students succeed!

Learn More about NOCTI HA > Learn More about NOCTI MA >