Is Certification Necessary?

Certification is an indication more of commitment than skill.  However, it is this commitment that makes the certification valuable.  To pass any certification exam, a mix of practical and book knowledge is required.  Because exams are written, the book knowledge is more heavily gauged.  In earning and keeping the certification, one works constantly on the practical knowledge and its application.  That work makes the long ago earned, but still valid, certification more valuable the newly minted one.  A certificate on the other hand, is earned one time.  The skill may be built upon, but there is no tracking of continuing education or use.

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I believe that certifications are important because of the commitment that one makes when obtaining and keeping that certification.  Even when I search for a provider to care for my pet, I am more inclined to interview someone who has joined a professional organization, and gained certification.  It’s not that I think scooping litter requires a skilled and tested individual.  But if I am going to trust the health and well being of one of my family members to a relative stranger, I want to know that they are as committed to my little guy’s health and well being as I am.

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Certifications are have value for all types of employees.

Current employees

When current employees earn and maintain certification.  It indicates their commitment to the craft and their willingness to engage in continuous education.  Companies should encourage certification and get involved with the certifying organization to ensure that the content matches industry needs.  Certifications need to evolve with the craft and continuing education units (CEUs) or professional development units (PDUs) are part of this evolution.

Hiring new employees / Creating a resume

Certifications and certificates on a resume can help it rise to the top.  The interview process will probe the depth of candidates’ knowledge and skill.

When building a resume always include your certifications.  Choose which certificates to include based on the ones that you are proficient in, and that you want to continue to practice.  I have earned numerous safety certificates over the years, but I do not include those on a biography or resume because that is not where I want to focus my career.  I have earned certificates in Theory of Constraints and Lean and I do include those, because they are relevant to my work.  I have kept current on the application of those in industry, but they are not certifications, because I do not renew them through the use of CEU or PDU tracking.

Hiring a consultant

Certifications for consultants are imperative.  To hold out as a expert or leader in a field, one must be conversant in both book and application knowledge.  The certification is an indicator of this.  Interviews and discussions with the consultant will help match the right skill set with your needs.

Multiple certifications and certificates

Multiple certifications demonstrate intense commitment.  Multiple certs in the same field demonstrate a deep knowledge and an interest in being on the leading edge of the subject.

Multiple certs in diverse subjects show an aptitude for big picture thinking, as well as practical application of those subjects.  They also show an evolutions of career interests and skill sets.

To determine the right certification, invest time in researching the options.

  • The certification should be accepted by others in the industry as valuable
  • Certifications offered by professional organizations (.org) are often preferred
  • Make sure there is a renewal period and understand the CEU/PDU requirements
  • The certification should be directly applicable to the work that you currently perform (do not get a certification for your “next” career, your lack of practical application will hinder your credibility)
  • Earning the certification (the study materials) should interest and excite you
  • The certification should provide more contact with others in your field

So, a certification is not necessary, but highly desirable.  If you love your career, embrace it by joining (professional organizations), contributing (to the body of knowledge), and certifying in it.


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