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Six Reasons Certification boosts Career Growth
The continuous growth of the ICT sector due to rapid technology advancements has exponentially increased the number of jobs worldwide. Professionals in the ICT sector are highly in demand, both in quality and quantity. For professionals and individuals interested to pursue a career in the industry, it has become crucial to obtain and maintain the necessary knowledge and skills in the workplace. Most of the employers are demanding industry-based certification(s) as a means of demonstrating that a candidate has gained the required knowledge and skills, and is committed to a specific profession. Data protection certifications have also become a trend along ICT certifications, since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on May 25, 2018. Since then, the demand for certified data protection professionals continues to grow.
Certification is a credential that is earned by fulfilling various requirements to demonstrate the level of competence in a specific field. Based on the ISO/IEC 17024, the certification process consists of activities by which a certification body determines that a person fulfills certification requirements, including application, assessment, decision on certification, recertification, use of certificates and use of logos/marks. Most of the professional certification programs are developed for a specific profession, for example ISO/IEC 27001 Lead Implementer, ISO/IEC 27001 Lead Auditor, GDPR Lead Implementer, GPDR Lead Auditor, Ethical Hacker, Penetration Tester and more.
Although, there are many organizations that provide certifications, it is important to get certified from a credible certification body. A credible certification body fosters a set of qualities that demonstrate reliability, commitment, competence, accountability and value to all parties involved in the certification activities, including certified individuals. To ensure the possession of these qualities, certification bodies seek accreditation by credible accreditation bodies, such as ANSI (USA), DakkS (Germany), UKAS (UK) and other national accreditation bodies. As defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), accreditation is a third-party attestation related to a conformity body conveying formal demonstration of its competence to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks.
In this article, we have laid out six reasons on why individuals should get certified.
1) GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
Obtaining certification gives professionals a competitive advantage in the workplace and the whole job market. Individuals who have obtained the required knowledge and skills, and maintained their competence up-to-date through certifications, stand out in a pool of candidates in comparison to non-certified individuals. Certifications are key in the hiring process and an indicator of a high-performing employee, as they also include continuing professional development (CPD) requirements to ensure further professional development of certified individuals. Certified individuals that meet the CPD requirements are dedicated to keep their knowledge and skillset relevant to the market demands. In order to fill out important IT and data protection job positions, employers are continuously looking for individuals who possess the required certification(s), or providing support in obtaining certification(s). IT Career Finder constituted that 40% of certified professionals attribute job and promotion opportunities to IT certifications.
2) INCREASE EARNING POTENTIAL
Professional certifications act as catalyzers for career advancement, which paves the way to get an increase of salary. Certifications translate to time and effort spent in seeking the knowledge and skills for a specific job, which is a signal for employers for a higher pay. This is also as a result of the talent gap in the ICT sector and job market in general. According to IT Career Finder, certified professionals enjoy higher salaries than noncertified ones. Employers seeking high-demand skilled employees are willing to offer higher salaries in order to retain certified professionals.
In analyzing the return on investment of IT certifications, Forbes has stated that five out of the fifteen highest paying certifications in 2019 were in the field of cybersecurity, paying an average of $115,876. Similarly, a certified ISO Lead Auditor can make as high as $101,258 annually in salary and bonuses. This premium pay is also seen in those exercising the role of a data protection officer (DPO), where the global average salary is estimated at $106,500. This high pay is backed up by the notion that highly-specialized certificates are designed for a specific job profile that cannot be performed by non-certified professionals. Therefore, professionals increase their earning potential through certification by getting higher profile assignments.
3) ESTABLISH PROFESSIONAL CREDIBILITY
Earning the right credentials from a credible certification body gives credibility to professionals in the workplace and among peers. Individuals acquiring certifications from a certification body must fulfill certain requirements related to a particular certification scheme, prior getting certified. Individuals who pursue certification as a means for gaining competence prove their commitment and dedication to achieve career success, which helps them establish professional credibility in their network and create professional opportunities.
4) ACQUIRE NEW KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS
Certification programs are built on certification schemes, which outline the required competence and a few requirements related to a specific profession. Individuals can acquire new knowledge and skills in a specific area or profession through various certification programs. Keeping up with the ICT industry labor demands, data protection regulations and associated trends is necessary for career advancement. In such a rapidly evolving industry, certification programs are updated parallelly to reflect the technology advancements, job market needs, and changes of applicable standards, regulations and best practices. Therefore, the competence of certified individuals is confirmed usually every three (3) years, to ensure they are maintaining their competence through continuous professional efforts.
5) INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY
Certified individuals are more productive in completing their tasks and overall projects, as they reach their potential earlier than non-certified individuals. The knowledge and skillset gained through professional certifications makes certified individuals more conducive and perform better in the workplace. As most of the certification programs are developed for a specific profession, certified individuals understand clearly their tasks and are able to use the obtained competence to improve productivity of teams and whole organization. They are prepared to manage day-to-day challenges and continuously learn about current IT and data protection trends.
6) EXPAND NETWORK
Obtaining certification from a specific certification body allows certified individuals to join a wider network of certified individuals in a specific field. In this professional network, certified individuals have the opportunity to share ideas, issues and solutions to IT and data protection challenges. Networking is essential for professional advancement as it gives certified individuals access to new knowledge, and guidance on potential advancements to enhance their careers.
Alisa Jashari is a Marketing Manager at TRECCERT. With a passion for marketing and business development, she provides market research to create campaigns and blog posts on the TRECCERT website and social media accounts. Alisa exhibits the certification industry mentality, and guides the Marketing Department on TRECCERT's branding needs through market research and marketing strategies.