What is a certification?
A certification, or just "certificate" as they are
sometimes known, is an official test or document that certifies
a person's competency in a given trade or field of study. Some
certifications may involve a simple test at a government office,
such as a food handlers' permit. Others can involve very specific,
very thorough training in a particular process or trade, such
as a journeyman electrician's license.
What kinds of certifications
There are thousands of certifications available today. In almost
any given career field, there is some form of certificate proving
your competence in your chosen trade. A certification is not
the same thing as degree, as most degrees require study in a
range of subjects. Certifications typically focus on a single
field or even a single process within a field.
How do I obtain a certification?
The process to obtain a certification depends on what the certification
is for. If you are looking for a certification to become an
inspector, for example, you may only need a certain amount of
experience in your field. Most city or county offices can give
you information on inspectors' licenses and the necessary process.
If you are looking for a certification that is more specialized,
such as computer programming, you may need to enroll in a training
program in a technical school and go through months of study.
After the study, some schools offer a comprehensive exam to
actually receive your official certificate.
Some large companies have
their own training programs or schools within the company itself.
Others may be willing to reimburse you for the cost of the certification,
if it is of benefit to them. Some companies encourage their
employees to receive training on a regular basis to keep their
job skills up-to-date.
Are certifications necessary to obtain a job?
Many people can obtain an entry-level position for nearly any
given company without needing a certificate or degree. However,
in today's competitive job market, many companies will insist
on an employee gaining a certain level of training and certification
in order to advance in position in the company. Experience is
always a plus, but without formal training, it can be difficult
to compete in an ever-changing global market.
What is the cost to certify and how long is a certificate good
The cost for a certification varies widely. It depends on the
amount of training necessary and how comprehensive the exam
is. Many government licenses can be less than a hundred dollars.
Very specialized certifications can cost thousands of dollars.
The length of time a certificate is good for also varies. Some
require a single test, others must be renewed frequently.
Is it worth it for me to get a certification?
There are a few questions you must ask yourself when considering
a particular certification. Is it directly involved with your
career field? How serious are you about continuing in your field?
Also, consider the cost.
Will the cost of the licensing and possible renewal fees be
more than the benefit to your career? For example, if you do
freelance computer work on a part-time basis, it may not be
worth it to get a computer certification, as you will not use
it often enough to justify the fees. However, if you are working
for a computer company and looking to advance, or looking to
get a better job with another company, getting that certification
may put you ahead of the pack. It shows you are serious about
your career and keeping your skills sharp and updated.