Student and Graduate Publishing

The Changing Workforce: Are Certifications or Short Courses Worthwhile?

Monday, 27 January 2014 12:32

By Sookie Lioncourt

 - Times are hard. The economy has made life more challenging in all its aspects including earning a degree. Getting alternative proofs of education aside from the traditional diploma is becoming a more attractive option. One of which is the shorter, more cost-effective version of your usual degree called certificates.
There is a stigma against certificate holders that suggest a lower quality of education, compared to its bachelor degree counterpart. Before you dismiss getting a certificate, there are things that you should realize that might change your mind. We will tackle the most common myths about certifications below.
Never a worthless attempt
With the fast pace of the tech industry, we’re living in a world where new knowledge is easily created. Back then, certificates might be considered as worthless endeavors. Now, specific industries often require certifications and wouldn’t settle for anything less. A bachelor’s degree in business might be enough to snag a good corporate job, but certifications will net you the burgeoning positions. These include network associate, social media marketing manager, VMware professional, and other niche jobs that don’t necessarily require a degree, but a proof of study on a specific skill.
Depending on the industry, there are hundreds of different certificates to obtain. For example, aspiring chefs need certification on food hygiene, general culinary arts, wine preparation, and supervision. Moreover, gaining certification means like “starting off on the right foot and receiving proper training.”
Real-life applications
Transitioning into a new industry or role requires more preparation than you think. It isn’t enough to have burning passion; you must have proof of it. Graduates from a certain degree should realize that certifications are the best way to gain wider knowledge and acquire specialized skills in another field. Many would even consider going back to school to get a second degree, but that’s an arguably expensive. Certifications shine brightest when you already have an undergraduate degree to back it up. It shows your dedication to learning and it’s a valuable trait employers are looking for.
Some certifications are offered by private institutions, leading many to consider the process as very ‘vendor centric’ or catering to the interests of the certifying company. IT graduates are given the opportunity to increase their resume credentials with proofs of skill on certain programs such as Novell’s, Linux’s or Microsoft’s.  The real world is comprised of many other companies, and not just Microsoft and the usual suspects. The skills gained from these ‘vendors’ are also applicable in the general field, thus making certifications a viable skill-building endeavor.
Academic merit
While experience is definitely the most attractive section of your resume, you shouldn’t discount your academic merit. The truth is; both experience and certifications are equally important. However, in this dog-eat-dog world we call the job market; certifications are gold when it comes to breaking a tie.
New graduates are mostly on even ground when applying for their first jobs. However, the playing field is leveled; certifications bring that extra     edge to a resume. said, “In many cases, two people with the same degree and level of experience who apply for the same job find that the "differentiator" that sealed the deal was the certification one of them possessed.”
Long-time value
There is some truth to this statement, since the need for particular skills in fast-paced industries change. Ultimately, there is no negative to having a certificate. Regardless of how little value a certificate might seem; it still contributes to the whole value of your portfolio. No one can ever be too learned.
If the goal of a graduate is to make himself or herself more attractive to employers, valuable as a worker, or more learned for independent ventures; then, certifications are worth your time. They’re extra ladder steps to help you easily and quickly reach another level. Are you considering taking up a certification course in the near future?


Sookie Lioncourt writes for several tech, business, and finance blogs as a correspondent. Currently, she is an intern working for her uncle's business. She plans to take up certification course in Human Resource sometime in the future. Connect with Sookie via LinkedIn.