Stuck in your career and need some change? Confused between going back to the University for an academic degree and going for a short certificate? Started looking for a new position but you lack some skills? Interested in pursuing your studies but not ready to invest a lot of time and money?
Well, you are not alone. Nearly, everyone went through the same concerns during his/ her career at a certain point of time. While there is no single recipe for such concerns, being honest with yourself is a good starting point. I am not HR professional, so I cannot discuss this from company’s point of view, but I have 10 professional certificates in different areas as I mentioned here, so I can discuss the value that those certificates added to my career path.
I will write separate posts about each one, but this post will discuss the top 10 reasons why I think going for a professional certificate is better than an academic degree.
Firstly, let us define the term ‘Knowledge’. Knowledge is defined as
“Facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education” (Oxford Dictionary).
Within this context, some people believe that experience is more important than education, but personally, I believe that putting a conscious and structured effort to understand a field of study is equally important to get a practical experience in that field. At least, the time and effort that you invest during this process will give you a lot of soft skills such as patience, determination, self-discipline and eventually self-confidence that you can set a personal goal and achieve it.
At the business side, there are different professional certificates that are provided by different organizations and institutes. For some of them, you need to sit for a test while for others you need to demonstrate a certain level of experience before getting the certificate. In all cases, my 10 reasons for choosing to study for a professional certificate are:
- A certificate is a quick win! The time and money you invest in a certificate are much less than an academic degree.
- A certificate comes with less risk! If you are not sure what discipline you would like to explore, a professional certificate will provide a safer option to test your desire.
- Gain a quick transferable knowledge! A short certificate needs less time, so you can gain different types of transferable knowledge if you would like to change/ advance your career path.
- A professional certificate is a formal recognition that you have a certain level of proficiency, both at educational level and practical experience level, in a certain subject matter.
- Preparing for a professional certificate does not need a full-time commitment, so you can still keep your job while you learn.
- If you are planning for a full-time academic degree after a long time of leaving the previous degree, a professional certificate can give you a small hands-on experience of being a student again.
- Most of the professional certificates are skills-oriented. The purpose is to test your proficiency in a certain area not to memorize text books and boring stuff.
- The body of knowledge that is needed when preparing for a professional certificate is updated regularly, which means you can gain a more recent knowledge than the one that is provided by many universities’ Curricula.
- Usually, you need to be a member of the institution that will provide the certificate, which will give the opportunity to be engaged with other professionals. Such institutions usually organize different events and conferences which will provide you with better networking opportunities with people alike.
- Finally, the most important reason from my point of view is you can tailor your customized personal brand. You can mix and match different disciplines that are not usually provided under one academic degree, which at the end of the day will make you a unique professional.
Getting a certificate is not the end of the learning journey in any field. Even if your employer looks at it like that, and better not to work with such an employer, always work hard to stay on top of your field; whether through a professional certificate or not. So, select the right certificates, connect with people in different fields and keep an open eye for job advertisements in your area to spot any changes in the hiring requirements (even if you are not job hunting).