Competence vs Competency: Difference and Comparison

In the vast multitude of words that the plethora of English language has to offer, one might come across a handful of words that appear to be exactly the same but, in reality, portray different meanings.

When one goes into the detailed specifics of such words, they find that they are different in meaning. Competence and Competency are two such semantic words.

Key Takeaways

  1. Competence refers to the ability to perform tasks or duties effectively, while competency is an individual’s underlying knowledge or skill set.
  2. Competence can be observed and measured through performance, whereas competency is an inherent quality or attribute.
  3. Developing competency leads to greater competence, improving job performance and career advancement.

Competence vs Competency

Competence is an individual’s capacity and ability to perform job responsibilities efficiently. It is based on the skills or qualifications of the person. Competency focuses on the actual performance of the individual in a particular situation. It is based on the behaviour of the person.

Competence vs Competency

Competence basically means the ability of an individual to do something. This is understood to be done at a basic level. Competence is closely related to possessing skill and using it to achieve the task in question. Therefore, competence is said to be skill-based.


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Competency, even though considered to be an alternate version of competence, minutely differs from it in reality. Competency focuses on the actual performance that an individual shows.

It refers to the behaviour that an individual must have used while performing a task. Therefore, it is said to behaviour-based.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonCompetenceCompetency
DefinitionIt refers to the capability of an individual to carry out a particular task.It focuses on the performance that an individual showcases in having completed a particular task.
BasisIt is skill-based. It is behavior-based.
UsageCompetence can be used in casual as well as formal situations.Competency is mostly used in professional jargon.
AssessmentIt assesses the standard of performance that a person shows.It assesses the behavior and way in which the standard has been achieved by a person.
CharacteristicsIts characteristics include skills like communication, leadership, etc., and knowledge.Its characteristics include a person’s behavioral attributes like confidence, determination, honesty, etc.

What is Competence?

Competence refers to an individual’s capability to carry out a specific task. Herein, a person uses his skills and knowledge to accomplish a task, and the outcome is measured.

The measurement of this outcome can be referred to as the individual’s competence. For this reason, competence is said to be skill-based.

This establishes an interface between competence and skill.

This means that by the application of one or more specific skills, an individual becomes competent or capable of performing the task at hand. Along with skills, knowledge is another component that is required in order to be competent.

The origin of the word competent lies in the word competent. Competent, in turn, derives itself from the Latin language. The Latin term was the equivalent of the English word, compete. Competence is a noun that defines one’s ability to do a certain task.

There are certain characteristics that can be used to define the competence of an individual. These include skills as well as knowledge.

Some of the skills that are useful in determining competence are communication, leadership, interpersonal, time management, decision-making, etc. And the knowledge part includes technical as well as functional knowledge.


What is Competency?

Competency, which appears to be the same as competence, is, in truth, different from it. It is different because competency refers to the method and the way an individual has used it in order to have completed a given task. Competency is based on a person’s behaviour.

This means that the individual’s personality and his behavioural attributes are assessed so as to adjudge the manner of his competency. As opposed to competence, it tends to find the procedure undertaken in having accomplished a particular task or duty.

While skill and knowledge are an essential part of assessing a person’s competency, there is yet another component that is of great importance. It is the motive or attitude of the individual. It is this motive that makes competency different from competence.

Competency is an amalgamation of competence, that is, skills and knowledge, and behavioural attributes. These characteristics of competency include honesty, dedication, a positive attitude, a winning attitude, enterprising, integrity, and so on.

core competency

Main Differences Between Competence and Competency

  1. Competence refers to the capability of an individual to perform a specific task, whereas competency refers to the procedure undertaken by the individual in having accomplished the task.
  2. Competence is assessed on the basis of the skills and knowledge a person possesses, while competency is leaned towards assessing the behavioural aspects of an individual.
  3. Competence is, therefore, skill-based, and competency, on the other hand, is behaviour-based.
  4. Competence is a word widely used in formal and informal situations, but competency is used in professional jargon and is used in court proceedings.
  5. Competence focuses on skill sets, including leadership, time management, communication, interpersonal skills, etc. Competency has its focus slightly tilted towards the behavioural qualities of an individual, for instance, honesty, integrity, discipline, and so on and so forth.
  6. Both competence and competency are nouns, but the former has a wider application and usage as compared to the latter.
Difference Between Competence and Competency

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