Certifications: The Wave of the Future or Just a Fad?

Recently I came across an article by CompTIA with some very interesting statistics. It seems that decision makers in the workforce hiring process are starting to place more emphasis on the certification credentials that job-seekers possess. Now this isn’t to say that advanced degrees are discounted completely, but I would like to delve a little deeper in the discussion of certifications versus a bachelors’ degree in the job market.

Even though we live in one of the most affluent regions in the country, it still can be a challenging market in which to secure gainful employment in the technology field of your choice. The difference between months of job hunting, sending out resumes blindly while waiting for a call-back, and finding the right job in the right company with very little uncertainty seems to be the list of certifications trailing your name on that resume. High-quality resume paper notwithstanding, a great way to get noticed is to supplement your job experience or degree with certifications relating to your desired fields. With that in mind, start small. Try taking a class in a subject you’ve got some knowledge of first. In an article by the site TechRepublic I found that four out of the top ten recommendations are well-known certifications. Leaving the more obscure ones in the corner for a moment, many institutions offer preparatory courses online and in-house, with varieties of self-study also available. Of course, if your job already uses many of the skills covered by the certification, you may not even need to take a prep course at all. For the more specified certifications, not surprisingly the same options exist. “Webinars” have become commonplace, and are a viable option for disciplined, driven professionals with limited time.

For those of you who are already well- and happily-employed, look into making yourself even more valuable to your employers. Ask your HR department about grants for building your skill set. Take a look at the options for promotion and professional growth within your company. Especially at the beginning and end of the fiscal year, companies may be looking to use up department budget surpluses by investing in you the employee. If you come to find that your company does not offer tuition reimbursement or matching, suggest it!

And finally, if you do have a degree don’t despair, it is far from worthless. The average salary for an information security professional with a college degree for example, is over $100k a year. Adding certifications to your repertoire only makes you more valuable.

In closing, if you’ve already got it, great! That goes for both your degrees and certifications. If not, getting certifications first is the way to go, and if you’ve already got both, err on the side of caution and continue to challenge yourself with a new certification program every quarter or year. Keep up with us here at Intellectual Point as we go deeper into the realm of possible certifications, when and how to attain them, and of course, why.

Up next: PMP – Making Yourself Management Material!

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