In the technology field, employers will look for three items on your resume - experience, education and certifications. While a combination of experience and education is often the best qualification for a job, certifications do have value and usefulness, especially for people with little to no experience.
A certification is a formally recognized qualification that represents the training and knowledge you possess in a specific area of study. This could be in a highly technical position such as a network administrator or an essential business function like project management or technical writing. It can also apply to in-depth knowledge of a certain software program like Microsoft Office or Apple Final Cut Pro.
How can certification be valuable or useful to you?
• A certification can show that you have the required knowledge for a job.
• A certification can help you upgrade your skills to qualify for a promotion.
• A certification can prove ongoing professional development.
• A certification can demonstrate initiative and aptitude to a potential employer.
• A certification can enhance a personal interest or project.
Taking a Look at Certification Courses
Certifications are more prevalent in the computer industry. New technologies and trends lead to new methods, programming languages, hardware and applications. Information workers are constant learners. They have to be.
It’s not unusual for an application developer to learn a dozen or more languages over the course of his or her career. A technician may become expert in an increasing number of specialized applications as user needs change.
When on the job training is not possible, certification is an option worth investigating. This is true whether you’re already employed in the industry or if you’re thinking of switching to a computer career.
Research the skills needed for the job you have in mind. Training for a job that is not in demand or learning an obsolete skill is a waste of time and money.
Taking a course online or attending class are optional for most certifications. Students may elect to study on their own using a syllabus or a list of recommended books as a guide.
If you opt for a structured course, be selective when choosing a course provider. For your investment of money and time, look for content that is relevant and timely taught by experienced educators and professionals in the field.
A certification course will typically include theory and a practical component. A course for a basic HTML certification may involve four weeks of online classes. The student must submit a completed website to earn the certification.
Taking the Test
For professional or senior level certifications, the student will have to take a comprehensive test at an approved testing location like a college or training center. The student pays a fee to take the test. For some certifications, there is a limit to the number of times a test may be taken within a given time period. Tests may be graded by percentage or by a Pass/Fail criteria.
Actual costs and course availability will vary with the level of expertise and the importance of the skill within the wider marketplace.
The actual test may be developed by a company, by a school or by a recognized professional organization. Companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google, Oracle or Cisco Systems create examinations tailored to their products. The Society for Technical Communication create and administer certification tests for technical writers and communicators.
Be certain of your career and personal goals before deciding on which certification to pursue. Certification requires a commitment of time, a willingness to learn and a dedication to study and practice. You should consider certification if doing so will enhance your career in a positive manner or add value to you personally.