Basics of Job Skill Certifications

A professional certification can be a kind of passport for a job, identifying you as a citizen of a career field with all its rank and privilege. In other words, professional credentialing is one way to document your ownership of the skills you claim.

Not all credentials are worthy. A credential is worth the effort only if it has industry recognition and respect.

Crash course on certification

Differences in certification exist, but for ease of communication, included here are other terms of validation, such as registered, accredited, chartered, qualified, and diplomate, as well as certified.

Whether the professional designation carries statutory clout or is voluntary, common elements include professional experience, often between two and ten years, sometimes reduced by education. Education standards are included, which may call for minimum levels of both academic and professional education.

Certification examinations are uninviting to many professionals; generally, they require time-consuming study and may include both experience-based knowledge acquired working in the field and curriculum-based knowledge gained by assigned learning texts.

What’s certification worth?

Is certification worth your effort?

Certification has strong appeal in your early career — say, the first 12 to 15 years — as a technique to control your earnings environment. But in business, certifications lose their luster at the vice president level and above. Why? Certifications zero in on specific skills, while top managers are more concerned with the big picture.

For consulting, medicine, law, and technology careers, professional certifications never lose their punch, especially for people who hope to work internationally. Continuing education may be required to keep them updated and active.

The credential may be a license awarded by a state board, such as the familiar Certified Public Accountant (CPA), or a voluntary program sponsored by a professional organization, such as the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) designation awarded by the Public Relations Society of America.

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