An IT certification is a recognized benchmark mapped to a specific skill set based on standardized testing. A certification demonstrates your dedication, motivation and technical knowledge on a specific platform.
However, preparation for certification exams, training and fees costs time and money. Some certification-issuers require a certain number of hours, or even years, of professional experience in a discipline, skill domain or job function before one can become certified.
Is it worth it? Why go through all the trouble? What’s the value of an IT certification to you and to your employer? These are the types of questions every IT professional must answer before embarking on the journey to earn their next certification.
In many cases, you will end up with answers that affirm your decision to pursue continuing education or professional development.
Here are 10 benefits of becoming certified for both IT professionals and their respective organizations:
1. Certifications Help Job Seekers Stand Out to Hiring Managers
Many know well just how difficult it can be to land a job in IT. Competition can be stiff.
Having an IT certification that aligns with the job you’re pursuing gives you an advantage when hiring managers look at your resume.
In fact, a certification can be a qualifier for the position. Many organizations both in the public and private sectors require some professionals to certify and maintain certifications. Getting hired would be far tougher for those candidates who don’t meet the baseline requirements.
And if nothing else, a certification might get your resume a second look. And sometimes, that’s all you need.
2. Job Retention Increases When the Organization Invests in Employees
In a volatile economic environment, businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs. That may mean jobs are on the line.
Having an IT certification (or several) can mean the difference between keeping your job and having a chance to seek a new one. Earning a certification demonstrates that you are determined to enhance your skill set and knowledge, which benefits you and your employer.
If you’re undecided in pursuing a certification, look at it like an investment in your future. It’s likely to pay off.
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3. Certification Makes It Easier to Build a Case for Promotions
Want to move up the corporate ladder or into a better, higher-paying job in your company, then you will need to learn new technologies or enhance the skills you currently possess.
Earning a new certification is a surefire way to show management that you take your career seriously, invest in yourself, and have the ambition to improve. These traits, alongside the hard-earned skills and knowledge, are vital to building a case for earning a promotion or a raise.
4. Gain Access to Networking Opportunities After You Become Certified
Once you earn a certification with a specific vendor, you join a group of certified and skilled professionals. This is a perfect opportunity to grow your professional network.
This can prove to be an invaluable peer resource group when seeking answers to problems or sharing the solutions to your own challenging scenarios. This peer group of certified professionals can also pass along guidance on how to further enhance your career or where to seek specific technical knowledge.
5. Grow Your Professional Credibility and IT Subject Matter Expertise
Earning a certification, especially a series of certifications from the same vendor, will provide immediate professional credibility.
When it comes to their specific domain, it’s hard to question the judgement of a professional who holds a Cisco Certified Network Professional – Enterprise (CCNP), a Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert, or a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Having earned one (or more) certifications demonstrates your expertise in the related skill domain and establishes you as a subject matter expert.
Organizations with strong learning cultures provide those seeking professional development opportunities provide financial assistance and additional support. An increasing number of IT decision-makers (63%) say their organizations offer formal training, according to the IT Skills and Salary Report.
Ultimately, certifications and professional development benefit both the individual and organization, so it’s an advantageous investment.
6. Partner Programs Require Certifications, Improving Services and Consultations
Some companies must employ a certain number of certified individuals to maintain a partner-related certification or status.
Some major manufacturers and many others have this requirement. Earning a vendor's certification benefits you and your organization since it enables the company to meet the required number of certified associates on staff, while providing a level of service to clients that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
7. Organizations that Invest in Certification See Returns
IT professionals may have a requirement by their respective certification-issuer to recertify every two to three years.
For example, Cisco’s recertification requirements include earning continuing education credits, taking an exam, or attending training during each three-year cycle. Red Hat requires you to recertify every three years. Several others maintain similar requirements.
In this instance, a certification or recertification exam can benefit both you and your employer by demonstrating to customers a continued dedication to improvement and innovation.
By staying current with trends and technology, it helps provide more current recommendations and services to customers; in this case, recertifying can impact the organization’s bottom line.
8. Get Recognized as an Expert in New and Current Technologies
Earning a certification on a new operating system, platform or application will demonstrate that you have achieved what few have done up to that point: become certified on a new product.
Passing an exam for a new certification presents several challenges due to the lack of study material and advice available from other certified individuals. Earning an IT certification on a new product can make you the subject matter expert in your organization — putting you in a positive light for your early efforts.
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9. Adjust to Achieve Personal Goals and Triumph Over Challenges
You may have set a personal goal for yourself to earn a new certification, whether for professional recognition or personal achievement. Earning a certification this way may be the most satisfying, as you are rewarding yourself for your own efforts. If it happens to lead to a raise, promotion and recognition - even better. In some cases, these are also the hardest to earn because of the self-motivation and discipline required.
10. Meet Professional or Corporate Requirements
One way to ensure that IT staff have the necessary skills and experience on existing and new technologies is through certification and training. IT staff who have passed a certification exam or series of exams have the specific knowledge to respond to issues or challenges that the department faces, making them more effective in their jobs.
Companies that invest in their staff through training and certification will have a more technically advanced workforce that can respond to new challenges more quickly.
The Best Way to Choose a New Certification Starts Here
The benefits of becoming certified don’t end here. New technology, best practices, and processes continue to emerge as the collective IT industry progresses into the future. And as the industry changes, so will certifications and the benefits that come along with them.
But, how do you determine the best certification(s) for you right now and in the future? Your next step in the journey is to read our guide to selecting the right certification for you.
It’s a free and open resource that provides further insights into information and guidance to selecting certifications that will benefit you personally and professionally.