UPDATE: ONLY VOLUNTEERMATTERS SUPPORT CAN EDIT A CREDENTIAL'S STRICT CONFIGURATION.
There is a credential configuration setting that allows you to designate whether a credential will allow someone to sign-up before being approved for that credential (permissive - system default) and another that prohibits sign-up until the credential has been applied for AND approved (strict).
The system provides the ability for a volunteer to apply for a new credential as part of their sign-up for a need. The volunteer is assigned to the need while their credential application is being processed. This is a permissive credential. This is the system default and only when the credential is changed to "Strict" will it not be permissive. The system features mechanisms for reminding the volunteer about their pending credentials when the organization is waiting on them to do something. For example, the system will include instructions for resolving credential conflicts via confirmation and reminder emails. It will also present on-screen alerts on the volunteer portal landing page and my profile page whenever the volunteer must act to resolve a credential conflict for an upcoming assignment.
You may designate a credential to be "Strict", which means the volunteer must apply and be approved for a credential prior to allowing a sign-up. On-screen messages will identify those credentials that are required for a particular need and prevent the volunteer from signing up for that need until the credential has been earned/awarded.