5 Key Reasons You Should Pursue Certification

FREE Report: 5 Key Reasons You Should Pursue Certification

What Comprises Professional Certification?

A certification program is a course or series of courses in a particular field that lead to either certificate status or a license to practice in that field. Certification acknowledges the attainment of a certain level of knowledge and experience, and can be of value to both you, clients, and prospective employers. The types of and prerequisites for certification are generally dictated by the field, and may include completing coursework, earning a degree, successfully completing an internship or some other experiential component, and passing an examination. Sometimes, but not always, a certification program is a part of a degree program (Idealist.org, 2015).

Should I Pursue Certification or Continue My Education?

This is a very good question. Most professionals interested in advancement do things to build their portfolio of experience and resume. Some work in their professions during the day and attend classes at night, trying to fulfill advanced degree requirements. Would they be better served to take a shorter, surer route that results in certification, and work on their Master’s as they find time?

Certification is Often a Requirement for Even Qualifying for a Job

Certification is often a requirement for qualifying for a job, because the company’s clients require that certified employees work on their projects. For instance, IBM noted that its customers and prospective clients were demanding certified Project Manager Professionals (PMPs) for their projects because they had a better understanding of the relevance of strong project management discipline in delivering successful projects. Those customers associated certification with discipline, and believed there is a qualitative difference overall between certified project managers and non-certified ones (Levinson, Meredith, 2010, January 20).

Certification Provides Proof of Proficiency in Your Field

A certification gives you a distinction that solidifies you as a professional in your field and bolsters your career options. It shows that you have strived to deepen your education in your field, and provides a point of recognition for the professional who holds the certificate (Idealist.org, 2015).

Certification Requires Less Time than a Degree

A certification track is faster than a degree path, which often requires two to four years for completion. Though certification programs are made up of multiple classes, followed by an examination, the programs are tailored so they can usually be completed in less than one year (OnlineCommunityCollege.org, 2015).

Certification is Less Expensive than a Degree

Attaining a degree is still one of the best ways to make yourself marketable in the workforce. However, not every job in the 21st century economy requires a degree, and sometimes, all that is required is a certificate to get on your desired career path. If you want to change or enhance your career, getting a certificate may be the smarter option compared to plunking down serious cash for a new degree (Dwyer, Liz, 2012, June 10).

Certifications are Portable

Certifications are portable, since they are about the profession or field, and do not depend on one company’s definition of a certain job (“Professional certification,” 2015).

Here are ten more reasons why you should consider professional certification (Shelton, Laura, 2015): 

        1. Certification improves career opportunities and advancement. Certification gives a professional an advantage when being considered for a promotion or other career opportunities. Certification clearly identifies you as an employee who can innovate and adapt to accomplish the task at hand.
        1. Certification provides for greater earnings potential. Certified professionals may qualify for higher salaries over non-certified persons. In today’s economized and often chaotic employment environment, the salary increases will speak for themselves.
        1. Certification improves skills and knowledge. Achieving certification shows the individual competence of a professional by confirming proficiency, career involvement, and knowledge.
        1. Certification prepares you for greater responsibilities. Since certification is a voluntary professional commitment to certain industry standards or a particular or field of knowledge, it is a clear indicator of a professional’s commitment to invest in their own professional development. Certified professionals are aware of the constantly changing environment around their profession. They keep up with their industry through continuing education and through their association with other certified professionals in their field.
        1. Certification builds self-esteem. Certification programs create a standard for a particular profession, endowed with performance standards, ethics, and career paths. The certified professional can control his or her own professional destiny and find a deep sense of personal satisfaction.
        1. Certification establishes professional credentials. Certification recognizes a professional’s individual accomplishments, and stands above a resume, serving as an impartial, third-party endorsement to the certificate holder’s knowledge and experience. When potential clients look for individuals qualified to perform services, they seek experienced individuals who have achieved certification.
        1. Certification demonstrates your commitment to the profession. Receiving your certification shows your peers, supervisors, and the general public your commitment to your chosen career and your ability to perform to a set of standards. Certification helps you stand out as a leader in your specialty.
        1. Certification enhances the profession’s image. Certification programs are established to grow, promote, and develop certified professionals, who can then act as ambassadors of excellence in their particular industry or discipline.
        1. Certification offers greater professional recognition from peers. A certified professional can expect increased recognition from peers for taking extra step in their personal professional development.
        1. Certification reflects achievement. A certification recognizes a level of achievement for the professional who has demonstrated excellence in their field or industry and fulfilled set standards and requirements.

Ask a certified professional why they sought certification, and the answer you receive may be that certification process was one of the single most important steps they made in their career development (Shelton, Laura, 2015). Certification encourages both employers and your peers to take you seriously as a professional. In fields where licensure is required, certification and may enable you to legally practice in a field. In any case, it can help you specialize within your field, or enhance a skill set you already use in your current work (Idealist.org, 2015).


Dwyer, Liz. (2012, June 10). Is the Certificate the New College Degree? Good. Retrieved from http://magazine.good.is/articles/is-the-certificate-the-new-college-degree

Henry, Alan. (2013, July 1). Will a Certification Really Help Me Get a Better Job? Retrieved from http://lifehacker.com/will-a-certification-really-help-me-get-a-better-job-633263230

Idealist.org. (2015). Certification as an alternative to, or part of, a graduate degree. Retrieved from http://www.idealist.org/info/GradEducation/Resources/Options/Certification#Education

Levinson, Meredith. (2010, January 20). Why Project Management Certifications Matter. CIO. Retrieved from http://www.cio.com/article/2421276/project-management/why-project-management-certifications-matter.html

OnlineCommunityCollege.org. (2015). Degree or Certificate? Retrieved from https://www.onlinecommunitycolleges.org/index.php/degrees-vs-certificates

Professional certification. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 2, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional_certification#Environment

Shelton, Laura. (2015). 10 Reasons to Seek Certification. Retrieved from http://www.datia.org/credentialing/cder/top-10-reasons-to-seek-certification.html