In today’s competitive marketplace, you need ways to distinguish yourself from the crowd. Your knowledge, experiences, and skills can give you an edge over others. Professionals who put in the work have a better chance, whether of getting a career promotion, being assigned notable tasks, or landing a new job.

Today, we will let you in on a secret that’s not very protected, but only a few leverage its power to boost their careers—getting certified. While many scramble for quick fixes, becoming certified in your area of expertise is not a shortcut but it is something that builds a strong foundation for a stellar career.

Benefits of Getting Certified

Knowledge update – Getting a certification is not only about validating your existing knowledge, it’s also about updating it. This gives you an edge over others who’re still relying on their dusty degrees.

Career direction/specialization – If it’s been a while since you earned your degree, a certification is your golden chance to go deeper into your profession and specialize in a certain area. After an interesting discussion, Kumar Abhishek, VP & People Lead at S&P Global offers a succinct conclusion by saying, “It sides with pragmatists more than the purists: Be a jack-of-all-trades and master of some!

Networking – A certification also lets you meet the ambitious bunch from your industry. This can naturally lead to constructive collaborations and opportunities to excel.

Increased opportunities – If used strategically, a certification can take you to the highway of opportunities. Recruiters and clients are often tilted towards someone with certification because it speaks volumes about the candidate’s commitment, self-drive, and knowledge.

Increase in pay – There is no shortage of evidence showing a positive impact of certifications on salary. For example, Global Knowledge’s 2020 IT Skills and Salary Report states that certification in IT can bump up the salary of a professional by up to $13000.

Enhanced professional image – Whether this is your primary goal or not, a certification badge looks good on your resume/profile. 

Do I really need to get a certification?

Even today, we see professionals arguing over the topic of getting a certification. Some say it’s an absolute must while others take it as nothing more than another fancy badge on your LinkedIn profile. So the answer to this question is simple: It depends. It depends on a number of factors related to your profession, industry, career stage, and, of course, your personal preferences. Here are a few important questions that you need to answer to make the right choice.

Q#1: Is the topic something I’m interested in over the long term?

Being curious about many things simultaneously is a healthy habit for our brains. We get to accumulate new knowledge through this inquisitiveness. However, only a few themes stick with us in the long run. So, it would not be wise to get a certification in an area that is a casual interest and will lose its luster soon. Think of something that’s been following you for years. That’s a topic which has the most chances to stick.

Q#2: Do I know EVERYTHING about my profession?

If the answer to this question comes in the affirmative, then it indicates that your development process might have slowed down. There’s not a single profession that has someone who claims to know everything that there is to know about it. 

In your profession’s vast sea of knowledge, try to identify what exactly you want to learn more about. Then focus on that while exploring your certification options.

Q#3: Is this expertise valued in my industry?

The topic you’re considering for getting a certification needs to be a sought-after one. In scenarios of competitions where everything else is equal, certification can give you a clear edge over those who aren’t certified.

Q#4: Am I well-connected with other thought leaders in the industry?

If you’re not, then you should start working on that. Opportunities are often filled through word of mouth. And you can grab one only if you’re hanging out in those circles. Getting certified is not only about acquiring more knowledge but also a chance to get in touch with your industry’s thought leaders. This means more opportunities and more visibility in the industry. 

Q#5: Are other people aware of my commitment to my field?

Employers crave professionals who are self-driven and committed to self-development. A certification is a signpost that points towards both.

Selecting a Certification Program That is Right for You

Once you make the important decision of getting a certification, you may be overwhelmed by the information and options available out there. 

Here’s how you can choose the one that’s best for you.

1. Consider the source of the certification you’re pursuing. That could be the publisher or the manufacturer of the product or program you want to have expertise in. Always choose the original source over anything else to ensure you are getting the most accurate, up-to-date information.

2. Recognition of your certification is an important aspect to consider. Look for a program that is nationally recognized or offers continuing education credits that are nationally recognized.

3. Take a close look at the content of the certification you’re considering. Does it offer a depth of knowledge that you don’t currently have? Does that content seem applicable to your situation and your aspirations? Will the content provide you with practical strategies for solving problems as you move forward?

4. Time commitment – Make sure you can commit to attending the full program. If the program is offered in person, be sure to leave enough time for travel. Stay until the end of the session as many certification programs have a test at the end, and to ensure you have mastered the content. If the program is offered virtually, check all the dates and make sure you are committed to attending all sessions. If you’re opting for a self-study program, make sure you have enough time in your daily routine, and that you have the self-discipline to complete the program.

5. Learning style – While selecting a certification, make sure the content and its delivery match your learning style. For example, if asking questions or discussing with others enhances your learning you might want to avoid anything that’s a one-way lecture without any opportunities to discuss.

Click here if you’re looking to enhance the value you’re offering to your clients while facilitating your Everything DiSC training programs by becoming certified in Everything DiSC.

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