by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Career Planning, Learning, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Professional DevelopmentTagged as: Value
There is no question that professional certification in your area of specialization provides enduring value. (In fact, there are a number of professions where you cannot practice without it.) Becoming certified differentiates you from your competition, and signals to others that you uphold certain standards and practices. These may include committing to a minimum number of professional development hours annually, following prescribed ethical guidelines, or other requirements. A certification also gives you credentials… and a small amount of bragging rights.
There are certifications in just about every field. Consider this alphabet soup: CPA, CFA, CLU, CBV and CFP; these are just some… within the financial sector.
Typically, certification requires the completion of a number of courses, examinations, essays, several years of experience, and sometimes, a review of this experience by an independent panel. Most people start the certification process immediately after joining the workforce or changing careers. Once certified, the benefits accrue throughout your career – so it’s best to start early.
But what if you haven’t? What if you have spent 5-10-20+ plus years in your career, and you don’t have any certifications at all. Is it worth it to start?
The answer, of course, is yes. The more competitive the market, the more valuable external recognition can become. Plus, whatever you learn will make you more effective – and thus more valuable – within the marketplace.
For those with many years of experience, there is often alternative pathways to certification, effectively allowing you to substitute your real-life experience for courses and exams. As an experienced leader, getting a certification has another benefit: it shows you as a role model for others in your organization.
Choose the most recognized certification in your industry, trade, or profession. Then check out the web site and look for the different paths to certification. You may be surprised at how easy it is to add a few valuable letters after your name.
It goes for me too: Over the years, I have earned a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), CSP (Certified Professional Speaker), CMC (Certified Management Consultant), and FCMC (Fellow, Certified Management Consultant.) While all of these letters might be nice for the ego, a lifetime of professional development also keeps your brain in top shape.
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