Certifications are time-consuming and expensive, but they can help you land a job and, in some cases, might even be required. If you’re young and not totally sure what you want to do, investing in a certification might not be worth it. In fact, some are and some aren’t. Here’s a breakdown on how to figure out which certifications will help you advance your career and which won’t.
Necessary versus unnecessary certifications
Some certifications are absolutely necessary for certain jobs. Commercial truck drivers, for example, require a Commercial Driver’s License. Nurses are required to pass their board exams, accountants must get a CPA certification, and most school districts require their teachers be certified. Other certifications, such as an HTML Developer Certificate, will probably make your application stronger but aren’t absolutely necessary to complete the job. And many entry-level jobs don’t require any certifications at all.
All certifications are different
A lot of this depends on the issuing institution itself. If it’s from a well-respected university, it’s going to weigh more than if it were some unknown community college, though the latter is sure to be cheaper. The most valuable certifications are high-level and industry-specific. For example, there’s a hierarchy of IT certifications. A Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) rank above A+ certifications, but the lesser-valued ones are still important in a lot of entry-level positions. So, consider what you’re capable in terms of cost, class time, study time, and your ability to learn new skills and pass a test.
Consider the position
Research the role you’re applying for and figure out which certifications are required, which are recommended and which won’t matter at all. Then determine which ones you can reasonably attain and how to do so. Ask others in the industry for advice about which ones are worth the time and money.
It’s a changing world
There are so many rapid changes in technology and software that some IT certifications are only good for a few short years before new information replaces it. Certain certifications which were once must-haves are completely non-existent today. To stay up to date, some fields, such as nursing, require that you pass a re-certification exam every five years or so. Others require a certain number of continuing education credits within a given time frame. Read industry blogs and articles to know what you have to do to stay current, even after you’re hired for a position you love.
Certifications are a great way to pump up your resume and make you stand out from the best competition. Even if they’re not required for a job you want, they might help you acquire and develop really important transferable skills. But be smart; choose the ones that are worth the time and money and can really help you advance your career.
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