Professional Career Certifications – Do You Really Need Them?

Career Certifications

Education is a great way to get ahead! However, college and/or university degrees aren’t the only education that counts. Professional certification programs are another option. With as little as two months to two years of your time, you can obtain a professional certificate in a particular field, skill or software program. Will a professional certificate benefit your career? Do certificates make a difference on your job application? Which certificates do employers value the most? Following is some information about professional certificates.

What is a professional certificate?

A professional certificate is a credential provided to an individual after the completion of a standardized certification course and exam. The program usually consists of focused training for a specific career. It provides confirmation to recruiters and employers that the holder of the credentials has an acceptable level of understanding in the field; specific knowledge and specialized skills. In the interests of staying up to date with changes and advancements, the credential is usually valid for a limited time and must be renewed periodically. Whether you need a certificate depends upon where you live, your employer and the type of work you do. Some employers require specific certificates before considering promotion and/or a raise. 

Are certificates better than a degree?

In some situations, a professional certificate is better than a degree. Certificates match current standards, which is particularly important in fast-paced fields (ie: information technology). Degrees vary in quality depending upon where you received them. Certificates tend to have a  universal standard, the same no matter where you take the training. Professional certificates are also focused, allowing you to learn exactly what you need with no filler courses. They can save you time and money while demonstrating to potential employers your expertise in a field. 

Benefits of professional certifications:

There are a number of benefits to getting professional certifications in certain industries (information technology, marketing, business management).

  • Higher pay: Since the holder of a professional certificate will likely not require a great deal of job training, many employers are willing to offer them higher pay.
  • Advancement opportunities: Increasing your understanding of a field by acquiring a professional certificate opens the door to possible promotion. 
  • Competitive edge: Having the right professional certificate can give you the edge over your competition in a job search.
  • Tuition reimbursement: If an employer requires a certification course, they often reimburse you for the cost. 

Which professional certifications are most valuable?

Certifications can make a difference, but not all certifications are created equal. Below are some of the ones that recruiters actually value.

  • Project management professional certification (PMP): This certification is designed for professionals with extensive experience. Holders demonstrate a high level of understanding of the field; adding value to their resume. Studies suggest that project managers with PMP credentials garner higher median salaries than the non-credentialed professionals; 16% higher on average.
  • Google-Certified Professional Cloud Architect: The exam for this certificate assesses a candidate’s ability to design and plan a cloud solution (security and compliance), implement cloud architecture and ensure reliability. Though there are no prerequisites for the exam, it’s useful to have a few years of industry experience before taking the test. 
  • Google Certifications (publisher, analytics, AdWords): If you’re in digital marketing, data science or software engineering, there’s a Google certification that can benefit you. Recruiters and employers know that candidates with these certificates tend to be at a higher level of knowledge than those without. 
  • HubSpot inbound marketing certification: This is a free, globally recognized professional certificate that helps with the identification of buyers, use of automation software and integration of software with SEO tools. It provides a framework and methodology for basic inbound marketing strategies and tactics like SEO, blogging, email marketing and social media.
  • Network Certifications (CCNA, CCNP, CCIE): These certifications boost applications for network engineers or network administrators. A CCNA ensures a candidate’s ability to configure, manage and troubleshoot small and medium type networks in the real world. A holder of a CCNP can troubleshoot both Local Area Network and Wide Area Network. A CCIE guarantees an ability to plan, operate and troubleshoot complex, converged network infrastructures on a wide variety of equipment. 
  • Risk management assurance (CRMA): This certification demonstrates an individual’s ability to evaluate the dynamic components that comprise an organization’s governance and enterprise risk management program and provide advice and assurance around these issues. You must have a CIA certificate (Certified Internal Auditor) to take this program.  
  • CompTIA A+: A globally-recognized certification, this course gives candidates the skills needed to solve a variety of networking and security issues. It provides them with an in-depth understanding of different operating systems and mobile devices. To keep this certification current, you must earn twenty continuing education units every three years. If you’re looking to break into the tech industry, this is the foundation you need as 1 in 10 IT support job ads cite CompTIA A+. 
  • Healthcare certifications: Some careers in the medical field are certification-based and offer opportunities for advancements (licensed practical nurse, dental assistant, surgical technician, paramedic). Periodic renewal is required.
  • Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP): Business analysts work with companies to analyze processes, products, services and systems to improve efficiency, productivity and profitability. They help decision-makers move their companies forward. Certification demonstrates that a candidate comprehends the BA job and the expected responsibilities and duties. With CBAP certification an individual will likely get a salary hike because they’ll be able to work on crucial organization projects and primary programs. Business Analysts who hold CBAP Certifications earn 19% more than non-certified BAs.
  • Accounting certifications: Two of the most popular accounting certifications in demand include the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designations.
  • Human resources certifications: Recruiters seek employees that hold HR certification as they demonstrate leadership. Consider the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification or the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification. The PHR is mentioned frequently by employers as a preferred qualification. Candidates with this certification give employers the assurance that a certain level of knowledge and skills has been attained. The SPHR certification is a respected credential that indicates a professional has obtained theoretical knowledge and demonstrates mastery in their field.


Certifications can make a difference. Before pursuing a certificate, do your research. Discover what it takes to acquire, what employers require it and what difference it makes regarding the possibility of employment, salary and advancement opportunities. 

Looking for a new position? Not sure which professional certificates are required and which will help? Call the Calgary recruiting agency, Equation Staffing Solutions at 1-844-367-9618. We are a reliable, innovative, collaborative agency here to support you in your search for a position and/or personnel. Our experience will assist you! Contact us today.