Professional certifications are vital additions and enhancements to your resume. In fact, the right professional certifications can help you qualify for higher-paying jobs or break into new industries even if you don’t have a certain degree.
Whether you are looking to upgrade your current position or change careers, you need to know the most sought-after professional certifications you can get ASAP. Let’s take a closer look.
What are professional certifications?
Professional certifications are credentials that you earn through short-term classes or programs, depending on the subject. Once you have a certification, you can put it on your resume, join certain organizations and qualify for different positions.
For example, you may need a professional certification to become a project manager at your current workplace. To become a certified professional, you will attend a certification program from an organization such as Google.
Think of professional certifications as additional qualifications on top of degrees. In many cases, degrees are combined with certifications to demonstrate that the job candidate has the skills and work experience to meet the job requirements.
Professional certifications typically take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to earn (although some can take several years), and some only require you to take an exam without previously completing the program. The certification exam covers the basics of the subject and allows you to demonstrate proficiency. It is often required for degrees in information technology, healthcare, and business administration.
Many professional certifications require several years of experience or a degree before you can apply for it. Completing online courses also allows you to qualify for career-important certifications. Organizations such as the Project Management Institute offer certification courses for professional development and continuing education purposes.
Related: Get CompTIA certified on your own time and start your IT career
Why do you need professional certifications?
You may need professional certification for several reasons, including:
- You want to advance in your career. Some high-level, high-paying jobs in your field may require you to have one or more certifications in addition to a degree and several years of experience.
- You want to enter a new field or industry. In some cases, the certification can even serve as a degree if you already have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline. For example, if you have a bachelor’s degree in English but would like to become a teacher, a teaching certificate may qualify you for teaching positions.
- You want to maximize your salary potential and an attractive resume. Simply put, if you want to get a promotion or qualify for a higher salary grade, you may need professional certification so that management can justify a salary increase.
- You just want to know more about your industry or a specific topic. Because professional certificate programs take less time to complete than certificate programs, they are ideal opportunities to learn more about a particular subject without committing a few years of your life to the process.
For these reasons and more, you may want to know which professional certifications are most in demand to pursue. However, you should consider factors such as pricing, continuing education units, and more to find the right certification for your needs.
Related: Move up the career ladder with this certification training
Top 9 required professional certifications
Good news: There are dozens of different professional certifications you can get in the near future. However, it is wise to prioritize your professional certification education.
To that end, here are nine professional certifications that will help you in a variety of different industries and jobs.
1. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
Project management is one of the most sought-after skill sets in business, finance, technology, and more. If you want to become a supervisor or manager in any capacity, you’ll need certification that proves you have the skills to succeed.
This is where the CAPM certification comes in. This associate-level certification is ideal if you still need to gain experience managing corporate projects. You need 1,500 hours of project experience or 23 hours of project management education. After that, you will need to pass a 150-question exam and pay a fee of up to $300.
2. Project Management Professional (PMP)
Another good project management certification to complete is the PMP certification. This advanced certification is ideal for professionals with project management experience. It rates you as a capable Project Management Professional, and requires 7,500 hours of project leadership experience. If you have a four-year degree, you can reduce the required work hours to 4,500 hours instead.
You will also need 35 hours of educational project management. Pass the 200-question exam, pay the $555 fee, and you’ll be certified in no time.
3. IIBA Rapid Analysis Certification (IIBA-AAC)
Business analytics is a growing field, and it’s not surprising why. Companies need a lot of data to understand their customers, and those who can analyze that data are invaluable employees.
To prove your data analysis skills, consider pursuing the IIBA Agile Analysis certification. This independent certification positions you as an adaptable, high-performing data analyst in changing and evolving environments. To obtain this certification, you will need to finish an 85-question exam within two hours, as well as pay the exam fee of up to $525.
Notably, you do not have to complete any eligibility requirements besides two to five years of agility-related experience. To maintain this certification, you must pay for recertification every three years.
4. Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)
Aspiring or current supply chain managers should consider CSCP certification. This is a globally recognized supply chain certification that proves you are a credible and experienced supply chain management professional.
Fortunately, many supply chain professionals will already have most of the requirements for this certification. You need a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, at least three years of relevant business experience and at least another accredited certification. Then, you just need to pass the exam after paying the $969 fee.
5. CompTIA Technician A+ certification
IT professionals often benefit from pursuing certifications that validate specific skill sets. The CompTIA A+ Technician certification is ideal for entry-level workers who want to get into the technology field without degrees or formal computer science education.
When you graduate from this certification program, you will be able to troubleshoot all types of technology. It’s an ideal certification for pursuing support specialist or help desk technician jobs, plus it prepares you for further on-the-job training. You need to pass the written exam and pay a small fee to get this certificate.
6. SHRM-CP certification
Every business needs a team of human resource professionals. SHRM-CP certification can qualify you for open HR positions, and there are other good reasons to pursue this HR certification as well.
For example, HR professionals with this certification have more credibility than others, which qualifies them for higher-value positions. Once you get this certification, you are also likely to earn 14% to 15% more than your peers. In other words, it’s a great progression certificate to follow if you know you want to continue in the HR field.
To obtain this certification, you must apply to the program and study for three to four months before taking the exam. It takes about four hours to complete, but most candidates complete the exam and earn their certification before the allotted time is up.
7. Certificate of professionalism in digital marketing and e-commerce from Google
Google also offers a few very desirable certifications. One of them is the Digital Marketing and Ecommerce Professional Certificate, which is divided into seven courses with a clear focus. These help you develop new insights and knowledge in digital marketing and online commerce strategies for your brand.
It is the choice of marketing certification for those who want to become digital marketers without marketing certifications. It takes about six months to complete 10 hours of study per week, and you have to pay $39 per month for a Coursera subscription. However, this adds up to less than $300 over the six-month time frame for most students.
8. Google Project Management Professional Certificate
Then there’s the Google Project Management Professional certification: another sought-after certification for project management professionals and team leaders across industries. The certificate program includes 140 hours of instruction and many different practice-based assessments.
Upon completion of this certificate program, all students can apply for jobs at Google and many other employers across the United States. It takes about six months to complete, and again, you need to pay the $39 per month Coursera subscription fee.
For this program, you can take advantage of the financial assistance from Google. Overall, it is a great certification to pursue for mid-level managers who want to increase their job skills and responsibilities.
Don’t forget to check out other Google certifications in Google Analytics, Google Cloud Security, Machine Learning, and more.
9. IBM Data Science Professional Certification
The IBM Data Science Professional certification is an excellent choice for future data scientists and IT professionals. It requires no prior knowledge of computer science or programming languages, and takes nine courses in total.
Completing this certificate program will not only qualify you to work in entry-level data science jobs, but you will also earn a digital badge from IBM. You can add this to your portfolio and resume, increasing the likelihood of being hired. You can even earn up to 12 transferable college points because the lessons are ACE-recommended.
To complete the programme, you will need approximately 11 months of study. You will also need to subscribe to Coursera for $39 per month. In total, expect to pay about $429 for 11 months of study.
Related: 4 benefits of getting certified in your area of expertise
Get the certification you need to advance your career
In the end, any professional certification can be just what your professional portfolio needs.
Some other excellent professional certifications that look great to potential employers include:
- SEO certification.
- AWS Fundamentals Certification.
- Social Media Marketing Certificate.
- SFP (Sustainability Facilities Professional) certification.
Consider obtaining one or several certifications in the near future, and support your career.
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