People, even the most fervent of them, cannot learn Reiki all on their own. It may be possible to achieve attunement by oneself, but learning the correct procedures is something else entirely. Even with excellent resources, one still needs to learn the specific techniques from an accredited master and/or institution. A certificate, therefore, signifies that one has satisfied the requirements of the master or institution that one has studied under.
The first important thing one must have, even before one starts receiving instruction, is belief in the concept of Reiki. This goes without saying, as it is really quite impossible to learn about Reiki, much less master it, if one does not believe in it. The next thing one needs is a willingness to open oneself - namely, one's mind and spirit and soul - to the Universal Life Energy. This energy is what is channeled in therapy, so it is extremely important that one open oneself to it to be able to use it to treat one's patients or clients.
Although what is taught during each certification process may differ from institution to institution and/or from teacher to teacher, what is important to note is that each and every issuance procedure for Reiki certificates has commonalities.
The basic level of certification is usually the widest in terms of scope, as it aims to provide a good foundation for those undertaking it. In general, basic certification aims to teach those who take it all about the origin of Reiki - its history and highlights - as well as other significant basics such as the five Principles of Reiki, the spiritual precepts, the major chakras, and the like. In addition, students are also given opportunities to practice self-treatment and to talk to and coordinate with their peers.
In the intermediate level of certification, things are taken a step further. Some teachers and institutions teach how to project healing energy in this level. Others choose to teach about the three ancient Reiki symbols in this stage. Still others elect to teach students regarding the use of Reiki at a more professional level.
Lastly, at the advanced certification levels, some teachers and institutions issue Reiki certificates once they have determined that their students can perform at Master level, which is to say, after having finished those levels, they will be able not only to heal others but also to train them in the healing arts as well. Others teach such advanced lessons as creating and attuning Reiki water to help others with their healing processes, and so on and so forth.