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ACT National Career Readiness Certificate™ (ACT NCRC®)

Year Introduced



The ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (ACT NCRC) is a portable, assessment-based credential that documents foundational workplace skills. The ACT NCRC is based on three ACT WorkKeys® cognitive skills assessments: Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information, and Locating Information.

The skills measured by the three cognitive skills assessments are the skills most broadly relevant across industries and occupations. Taken in combination, they provide a robust measure of the skills most commonly associated with workplace success.

ACT WorkKeys cognitive assessments are criterion-referenced to the skill requirements of the workplace. Skills are measured in terms of difficulty levels. Examples of the range of skills assessed include:

  • Perform basic mathematic operations relevant to the workplace
  • Read and understand documents commonly found in the workplace
  • Find information presented in common workplace graphics
  • Set up and solve complex work-related mathematic problems
  • Determine the relevance of written information to work-related tasks
  • Apply information derived from graphics to work-related problems

Intended Users

Job seekers, employees, students, employers, workforce developers, industry associations, and economic developers

Volume/Number of Users

  • More than 2.3 million ACT National Career Readiness Certificates have been issued since 1996.
  • More than 10,000 employers have signed a Letter of Commitment stating they will recommend the use of the ACT NCRC to inform hiring and/or promotion practices for one or more positions in their organization.

Additional Facts

  • ACT NCRCs are issued at four levels:
    • Platinum: Scores of Level 6 or higher on all three exams
    • Gold: Scores of Level 5 or higher on all three exams
    • Silver: Scores of Level 4 or higher on all three exams
    • Bronze: Scores of Level 3 or higher on all three exams
  • An examinee must earn a minimum level score of three on all three assessments to earn an ACT NCRC.
  • The ACT NCRC is the only criterion-referenced work readiness credential linked to a proprietary database of 20,000 job profiles.
  • ACT NCRC levels are associated with the skills required for jobs profiled by ACT-authorized job profilers. For example:
    • Platinum: indicates skills required for at least 99% of jobs profiled
    • Gold: indicates skills required for at least 93% of jobs profiled
    • Silver: ACT NCRC indicates skills required for at least 67% of jobs profiled
    • Bronze: ACT NCRC indicates skills required for at least 17% of jobs profiled
  • Every ACT NCRC issued by ACT includes a unique registration code which can be used to verify its authenticity. Examinees may share their official ACT NCRC results with employers via
  • A Silver-, Gold-, or Platinum-level ACT NCRC has received American Council on Education (ACE) college credit recommendation in vocational certificate and lower-division baccalaureate and associate degree categories.
  • 17 states are active participants in ACT’s Certified Work Ready Communities initiative which uses the NCRC to promote state- and county-level workforce and economic development.
  • ACT NCRC assessments and other ACT WorkKeys assessments are used internationally to support regional workforce development initiatives.