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Difference between competence or competency

competence or competency

In the exploration of competence and competency, it’s important to distinguish these terms not only in their practical application but also in their grammatical usage. Both terms are nouns that relate to the ability of an individual to do something successfully or efficiently. However, competence tends to refer to a general state or capability, while competency often points to specific skills or behaviors.

Quick Facts Table

NatureBroad attribute of being adequately qualifiedSpecific skill or attribute
UsageMore abstract, overall capacityMore concrete, specific abilities
EvaluationOften qualitativeOften quantitative
In LanguageUsed as a singular nounCan be used in both singular and plural forms

Difference Between “Competence” and “Competency

Definition of Competence

Competence refers to the ability of an individual to do a job properly. It's a broad concept that includes knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to perform tasks to a certain standard.

Definition of Competency

Competency, on the other hand, is often used to describe specific skills or behaviors that contribute to competence. It can be viewed as a component of competence, detailing the specific abilities required to achieve competence in a particular area.

Origin of Competence

The word competence originates from the Latin “competentia”, meaning a meeting together, agreement, or symmetry. It has evolved to denote adequacy or the state of being well qualified.

Origin of Competency

Competency comes from the word competent, which is derived from the Latin “competentem”, referring to suitability. Over time, it has come to focus more on individual skills or qualifications.


  • Competence: /ˈkɒmpɪtəns/
  • Competency: /ˈkɒmpɪtənsi/

Comparing Competence and Competency

When comparing competence and competency, the distinction lies in their scope and specificity. Competence is an overarching term that describes a person’s overall ability and capacity to perform various tasks. In contrast, competency refers to specific skills or behaviors within the broader framework of competence.

Comparison Table

ScopeBroad, general capacitySpecific skills or abilities
AssessmentQualitative, overall assessmentQuantitative, measurable by specific criteria
Development FocusEnhancing overall capability and adaptabilityBuilding specific skills or attributes
Application in HRUsed to gauge overall job fitUsed to define specific job roles or tasks

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Competence in Sentences

  1. Her competence in project management was evident from the success of her team’s projects.
    • This sentence shows competence as a general ability covering various aspects of project management.
  2. Competence in communication is essential for effective leadership.
    • Here, competence refers to a broad set of skills within the domain of communication.
  3. Achieving competence in a new language can take years of practice.
    • This indicates competence as an overall state of proficiency.
  4. The training program is designed to ensure competence in safety procedures.
    • Competence here covers a wide range of knowledge and skills related to safety.
  5. His competence as a chef comes from a blend of experience and creativity.
    • The sentence highlights competence as a combination of various attributes.

Use of Competency in Sentences

  1. Critical thinking is a key competency for problem-solving.
    • This shows competency as a specific skill within the broader context of problem-solving.
  2. The job description lists effective teamwork as a required competency.
    • Competency here refers to a particular skill expected for the job.
  3. She developed a competency in digital marketing through online courses.
    • Indicates a specific area of skill acquisition within marketing.
  4. Assessing employees on core competencies helps in identifying training needs.
    • Refers to specific abilities that can be measured and improved.
  5. His competency in data analysis led to significant insights for the company.
    • Highlights a particular skill area within his professional capabilities.


The distinction between competence and competency may seem subtle, but understanding the nuances between these terms can significantly impact how skills and abilities are discussed, assessed, and developed. Competence refers to a broad and general capacity, while competency is more about specific skills or behaviors within that broad capacity.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • What is the main difference between competence and competency?
    • Competence is a broad attribute, while competency refers to specific skills or abilities.
  • Can competencies contribute to overall competence?
    • Yes, individual competencies build up to form overall competence.
  • How is competence assessed?
    • Competence is often assessed qualitatively, considering a range of skills and knowledge.
  • Are competencies always job-related?
    • While often used in a professional context, competencies can apply to any skill area, including personal development.
Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, writer at, blends creativity with insight, exploring technology, culture, and psychology. With a background in English Literature, she crafts engaging stories inspired by nature and urban life. Outside writing, she enjoys exploring and continuous learning.View Author posts

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