As the old adage goes, “you are never too old to learn.” But what this adage doesn’t tell you is that continual learning can directly translate into higher wages, particularly through certifications. Even after graduating with a bachelor’s degree, specific certifications may increase your appeal and marketability.
Types of Certifications
No matter your career, chances are there is a certification which applies to it. For instance, in the IT industry, you can get certified in Microsoft, Adobe, PHP, Ruby on Rails, and virtually every other type of software. You can also get certified in engineering, network management, project management, system administration, and as a wireless technician.
Of course, certifications are not limited to the computer industry. You can become a certified accountant, paralegal, surgical technician, radiology technician, teacher, insurance auditor, financial consultant, nurse, or get certified in areas of aviation, architecture, tourism, hospitality, and management. These are just examples; in reality, there are myriad available certifications.
The area you want to get certified in will typically determine the length of schooling involved. Some certifications require six weeks of classes; others require more.
There are a plethora of advantages that come with certifications. These include:
- Allow you to keep up with the latest advancements, whether they are in computer programming, medicine, or another area altogether.
- Improve your skills and knowledge of a particular area; more knowledge can make you more valuable at your present job. Being more valuable often leads to promotions, more responsibility, and better job protection.
- Broaden your résumé, ultimately opening yourself up to better job opportunities, flexibility, and challenges.
- Allow you to succeed on a personal level: by gaining knowledge, you can take more pride in your work. You may even find freelance and consulting opportunities that are looking for your exact skill set.
- Demonstrate to your employer, as well as your clients, your commitment to your craft.
- Make more money. Depending on your field, a certification may warrant a higher paycheck. According to the Association of Support Professionals, certified technicians make an average of 25 percent more than their noncertified peers.
Other advantages that certifications hold over alternative forms of higher education (such as master’s or doctoral degrees) are time of completion as well as expense; while the cost of certifications may be in the hundreds, other forms of higher education can easily reach the thousands. Certification programs are also often offered online, allowing you to fit them in around a busy schedule.
Getting certified in order to further your career generally doesn’t have many drawbacks. However, certifications do take time, effort, and money (though often companies will pay for their employees to get certified in relevant areas). Another drawback may be the ever-changing world of technology; by getting certified in a particular computer program, for instance, you do run the risk of that program becoming obsolete before you can fully use your certification. Another drawback may be in getting certified in something specific, something you may only use as long as you stay at your present company.
Overall, getting certified is a smart idea for those wanting to increase their career and financial potential. If you have concerns about the cost, talk to your employer about any assistance they might offer. Having certified workers is good for management, thus they may be willing to foot the bill.
The article was contributed by Keith Van Pelt, an active adult education volunteer and part-time blogger who loves to share information and encouragement to those of any age that are interested in learning. Keith recommends Total Seminars for those looking for a convenient, flexible way to get certified fast.