As you advance in your career journey, what role do professional certification play in the grand scheme of things, if any? This is a common question asked by a lot of people, especially young folks who are interested in building a successful career and have a desire to be equipped with the right tools to make their journeys easier. Professional certifications are time and resource consuming and the right information about if and when to take them would save you a lot. So, what exactly are the benefits of being professionally certified?
In addition to any qualifications or experience, you may have, adding a certification that is recognized in your field to your resume would make you seem more well-rounded and competent as an employee. However, it is important to note that the weight a professional certification carries differs from one field to the other. In some fields, professional certification is practically a standard requirement; you are basically expected to have it. Examples of such are the Project Management Professional (PMP) for project management executives, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) for accountants practicing in Nigeria, among others.
It must be said that some certifications are more widely known and recognized than others, hence they tend to translate to more measurable benefit when acquired. So, before you proceed, it is important that you do thorough research about what is obtainable and valuable in your field and not just follow the crowd. If you are a big fan of lifelong learning, then a professional certification is certainly going to look good to you but it is crucial that your expectations of what you stand to gain from it are realistic so you do not set yourself up for disappointments. Of what tangible benefit is it to you to get professionally certified and what difference does it make in your career progression? Some of the benefits are discussed below:
Benefits of Professional Certification:
- Adding a professional certification to your portfolio can significantly increase your earning potential, it sends a not-so-subtle message to employers that you bring more to the table than your counterparts who do not possess the same certification. A lot of organizations recognize the cost, expenses, and sacrifice it takes to acquire specialized training and would therefore be willing to pay more for such candidates. However, you should know that what the employers are willing to pay for is not the certificate in itself but the added skill and value you are perceived to have gathered in the process of getting certified. So being able to defend and show evidence of this value is crucial.
- In this age of non-stop advancement in technology, staying up-to-date with new trends and regulations in your field is more crucial than ever and professional certification is one of the ways to achieve this. The knowledge and training you acquire provide you with up-to-date techniques and tools that assist you in the execution of your job description, helping you manage all aspects of your workload more effectively. With new knowledge, you are able to introspect and identify areas of your work especially when you have been below par and improve. An employee who is committed to continuous learning and improvement is an asset to any organization because learning is a value unto itself.
- The process you invariably go through to earn a certification makes you a part of a new community of other people who are on the same journey and this is an avenue to build a useful network with other professionals in your field. Keeping in touch with people who are in the same stage of career building as you gives you access to current happenings, career-related events, and valuable information. Even after the certification has been earned, you are forever a member of that group.
- Furthermore, the confidence that a professional certification bestows on you is unmistakable. Going through the whole process of studying, research, writing exams, etc. till you become certified would reinforce in you your ability to set a goal and reach it and this confidence invariably spills into other areas of your life. With those little letters beside your name on your resume, you are bound to sit up straighter at interviews and market yourself more to prospective employers because you are confident you are bringing value to the table. Professional certification gives you a competitive advantage which is very crucial in the saturated job market today. Hiring managers are also likely to look at you more favorably if you are in competition with a candidate without the prerequisite certification; it sends a message to them that you have a superior understanding of the intricacies of your profession.
- If you are an independent consultant, a professional certification in your field is a worthwhile investment because it helps to increase your credibility to your current and prospective clients. It passes a message to them that you are committed to upholding industry standards and superior professionalism. The possession of a credible certification is usually a determining factor for both government and private organizations that often do business with consultants.
The need to do your research before you embark on a certification journey is one that cannot be overemphasized. With the advent of remote learning, certifications are more popular now because most can be done from the comfort of your home and this is not without its merits and demerits. The low barrier to entry has made it possible for just anybody to earn a certification, thereby taking some of the prestige out of it.
In addition to this, organizations that offer different certification programs are now many; everywhere you look, someone is advertising one course or the other. Although the name of the institution that issues a certification is not all that matters, it will be pointless to deny that this carries a lot of weight. Ensure whichever one you are doing it from a reputable and widely recognized institution that is bound to make a real difference on your resume, be knowledge-based and prove to employers that you know your onions.