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Competency types allow you to create custom fields and apply those fields to competency items set up within your framework.

Types are optional and can be associated to a competency item when it is being added or edited.

The type names and their custom fields can also be displayed in user reports built through the report builder.

Competency types

Creating a competency type

  1. Go to Quick-access menu > Competencies > Manage types.
  2. Click the Add a new type button.
  3. Enter a name in the Type full name field.
  4. Optionally enter a Competency type ID number.
  5. Optionally add a Competency Type Description.
  6. Click Save changes.

Your competency type is now set up and can be used to classify competency items in your framework(s).

Editing a competency type

  1. Go to Quick-access menu > Competencies > Manage types.
  2. Click Edit () in the Actions column for the competency type you wish to edit.
  3. Make the required changes.
  4. Click Save changes.

Deleting a competency type

  1. Go to Quick-access menu > Competencies > Manage types.
  2. Click Delete () in the Actions column for the competency type you wish to edit.
  3. A warning message is displayed. Click Yes to confirm or Cancel to exit.

Custom fields

Custom fields are specific to the competency type they are set up under. When you assign a type to a competency item, the competency item inherits the custom fields associated with the competency type.

To create a custom field:

  1. Go to Quick-access menu > Competencies > Manage types.
  2. Click the name of the type in which you want to add a custom field.
  3. Select the Create a new custom field dropdown box and choose which Custom field type you wish to set up.
  4. Configure the general settings
  5. Complete the specific settings required for the custom field you have selected.
  6. Click Save changes.

Your custom field is now set up, you can set up as many custom fields under each type as required to hold the specific information for your competencies.

General custom field settings 


Full name

The name of the custom field - this should be descriptive. -
Short name

This is the unique short name.


Is this field required?

When set to Yes the field is compulsory.

Is this field locked?

When set to Yes the field only displays the information set when the field was set up.

Should the data be unique?

When set to Yes the field only accepts unique values.

Hidden on the settings page?

When set to Yes the field is not displayed on the competency framework overview page.


Custom field types and settings 

Custom Field TypeDescriptionSpecific settingsNotes
CheckboxA check or tick box fieldSelect whether the checkbox should be checked/selected by default.-

Date and Time

A day, month, year, hour and minute selector

Enter the Start year and End year to set the range of dates available.

Check the Include time? box to include the hour and minute selector.

Users must Enable the field to use.


Adds a standard file upload field-Any number of files can be added to this area.
LocationProvides an address field and an optional Google Maps location

Optionally default values for:

  • Address
  • Map size
  • Map view
  • Display
  • Map location

You can set the map location using an address entered above or search for an address, town or city.

If you want to refine the location of the Google Maps pin, you can do so by clicking on it while holding the mouse button, moving the pin and then releasing the mouse button.

Menu of choicesA drop down field with single option selection
Enter one or more Menu options in the box provided with one item per line.

Optionally set a Default value in the box under the list of Menu options

Menu of choices

Multi-selectA tick box to select one or many options. A custom image may be added for each option.

Enter one or more Menu options in the fields provided.

Add more menu options using the Add another option link.

Optionally add icons for each option via the Choose icon link and/or make one option Selected by default.

Deleting menu options from custom field settings will not remove it from the records where it is currently selected.

Custom icons can be loaded via the quick-access menu through Courses and categories > Courses > Custom icons.

Multi-select question type

Text areaA free text area with the default HTML editor.

Optionally set a Default value for the contents of the text box.

Specify the width of the text area via the Columns area and the height via Rows.

If a text editor plugin is applied to the text area the width will be determined by the plugin, and changing this value may have no effect.
Text inputA single line of text for short lines of text

Optionally set a Default value for the contents of the text field.

Optionally set the Display size by entering the maximum number of characters this field will display.

Optionally set the Maximum length by entering the number of characters this field will accept.

Optionally enter a and the Description of the regular expression validation format.

A regular expression that will be used to ensure entered text is in the expected format. For example /^[0-9]{3}$/ will ensure the text consists of exactly three numbers.

This validation is performed only when submitting forms with custom fields, current data is not affected after validation is changed. 

URLA weblink

Enter the URL and optionally some Default text.

Check the box for the link to Open in a new window.

Type URL custom field

Custom fields for competency types

Assigning types to competency items

Once you have set up your competency types, you can associate competency items with them.

  1. Go to Quick-access menu > Competencies.
  2. Click the name of the competency framework you want to work in.
  3. In the Actions column for the competency item click the edit icon ().
  4. Alongside the Type setting click Change type.
  5. Next to the type you wish to re-classify the item to click Choose.
  6. Click Re-classify items to confirm your selection.
  7. Finally, click Save changes back in the competency items setting. 

Assigning a type to a competency item.

You can also bulk reclassify items within a framework. You can read more about how to do this on the Competency items page of this Help documentation. 

Totara Academy

The Totara Academy has a whole course dedicated to using Competencies in Totara. Here you can learn more on how to use competencies, see best practice, and give it a go yourself.

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