When it comes to career services, there is an alphabet soup of certifications that you can receive. So, how do you decide whether or not you need a certification, which one is right for you, and where to receive the certification from?
I feel like these are all questions that were haunting me for the past couple years. These questions felt especially timely around annual evaluations when asked about future professional development opportunities or interests.
I bounced back and forth about whether or not I wanted to complete a certification. And then I was all over the place about which one I wanted to receive. While researching the options, I’d usually decide (or talk to someone who told me) that a certification wasn’t necessary and the research process would stop. Today, I am most of the way through the Facilitating Career Development training and the thing is, I still don’t know which certification I will receive. My training leads to three different certification options, depending on my work experience and education. All three of the options sound good to me. My instructor will help me decide which option is the best fit.
So what did I learn through this process? That like many things, there is not one cookie cutter “right” answer. While a certification may be the next right step for some, it may not make sense for your individual trajectory. Before you get caught in an on-again, off-again interest in a certification, ask yourself the following questions to decide if a certification may be right for you.
- Why am I interested in a certification?
- Do I need a certification to advance in my field or with my employer?
- Do I have the support from my department or college/university to complete a certification?
- Will I be able to complete the continuing education requirements that tend to go along with the certifications?
If after thinking through these prompts and deciding you want to complete a certification, you’ll need to start researching the logistics of different certifications. I recommend the following guidelines.
- What certifications are offered through professional associations that I am part of?
- What certifications do my colleagues have?
- Am I able to do a certification in person or do I need a program that is 100% online?
- Which programs are feasible for me to be able to complete? Remember that most certification programs have a supervision component so be sure that your supervisor meets the requirements for your program.
- What aspect of my background do I want to have the certification focus on? It could be resume writing, counseling or coaching, project management, career services, and more.
- When would be the best time for me to complete the certification? I know that my office is a bit slower in the summer and I’m not teaching any courses, so the summer may be a good time for me to complete a certification. That’s not the timeframe I began to pursue my certification, but in hindsight, it should have been.
Whether or not a certification is right for you is a question that only you can answer – unless someone higher up is telling you differently! But if you decide you want to get a certification, I hope these questions will help you work your way through the alphabet soup of options.
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Paige Erhart at firstname.lastname@example.org.