Entering the job market for the first time, transitioning careers or desire a promotion? Earning a certification can help to stand out by showing proof of advanced level competency in specific industries.
Whether for professional recognition or personal achievement, earning a certification is satisfying, as it is a reward for the efforts. In this article, we’ll address the top key benefits of certified programs and share some tips and recommendations if you consider enrolling on a certified program.
What Is Certification?
To start with, let’s clarify what certification means. Certifications are credentials earned by individuals to verify their legitimacy and competence to perform a job. The certification is typically displayed as a document stating that as a professional, a person has been trained, educated and prepared to meet a specific set of criteria for a role.
This document or statement is awarded only after the proper assessments are passed. Those assessments are administered by a recognized professional organization or educational institution. Most importantly, the certification is not a replacement for accredited degree work but is supposed to complement the education or professional experience in a particular field.
There are different types of certification, but one of the things to know is that some certifications do not expire, while others can expire. However, even if a certificate does not expire, the administering organization or institution will ask for proof that a required continuing education is obtained. That is the opportunity to re-earn the certification every year. There are also certified free programs and others that require payment.
Each certification also requires a commitment of time, motivation, dedication and other types of resources. Some issuers of certificates need a certain number of hours, weeks or months of professional experience in a discipline, skill domain or job function before becoming certified.
So, is certification worth it? And why go through all the trouble? What’s the value of a certificate to an individual and an organization? Let’s unfold some of the answers.
Importance Of Certification
If a person decides to follow a certified program and earn certification, that is important not just for the individual but for the organization that is the current or future employee. The value that the certificate can bring to individuals is in the form of professional credibility, professional growth, personal satisfaction, an advantage during the hiring process, and a salary increase. According to the Global Knowledge 2021 IT Skills and Salary Report, “an individual with six or more IT certifications makes over $10,000 more than those with just one certification on their resume.” On the side of the organizations, the added value is the job essentials, skills gaps, employee retention and enforced partner relationships.
In this article, we’ll emphasize the three key benefits of certified programs for individuals:
- Certification Can Help You Establish Yourself As A Subject Matter Expert
Earning one or more certifications demonstrates expertise in a related skill domain and knowledge and establishes an individual as a subject matter expert. It tells co-workers and managers that you possess the skills and knowledge needed to succeed. If you haven’t pursued a certificate yet and are undecided, look at it like an investment in your future. It’s likely to pay off. It will provide immediate professional credibility. Know also that many organizations with strong learning cultures provide employees that seek professional development, financial assistance and additional support.
- Certification Can Help You Stand Out To Hiring Managers
Many organizations require some employees to certify and maintain certifications, so having a certificate that aligns with the job you’re pursuing gives you a competitive advantage when hiring managers look at your resume. Getting hired would be far more challenging for those candidates who don’t meet the requirements, so in many cases, a certification can be a qualifier for the job position. Those who want a new or better-paid job need to gain new knowledge or skills. Earning a certificate is a way to show the hiring managers that you invest in yourself and have the ambition to improve.
- Certification Can Help You Gain Access To Networking Opportunities
Once you earn a certification, you join a group of certified and skilled professionals and peers. The certified programs are the perfect opportunity to grow your professional network, even internationally. This network can be a peer resource group when seeking support or sharing solutions for challenging tasks. The network opportunities through the certified programs can also guide how to enhance your career further.
Where To Start?
The benefits of becoming certified don’t end here. With the new technology, best practices, and processes that continuously emerge, the industry changes, too, and so will certifications and the benefits that come along with them.
This being said, the importance of choosing a trustworthy-credentialing organization or institution administering certified programs matters. Knowing this, how do you determine the best certification for you now and in the future? Your next step in this journey is to follow She Loves Data certified programs and choose the one that is relevant and beneficial for you and your personal and professional development.
It goes without saying that in today’s digital world, workers need to equip themselves with the basic skillsets to both understand technology and being savvy technology users. Those skillsets are necessary for anyone seeking employment in the digital age, and are also essential for those seeking to transition into the tech sector.
Yet, McKinsey reports that 87% of companies around the world currently have, or will have, a skills gap in the next few years. While that data shows a huge gap in the workforce, it also represents enormous opportunities for both businesses and employees to grow their capabilities in the data and digital space.
These skills prospects are exciting and that includes for non-tech individuals and mid-career changers alike. Ready to grow your digital skillsets and data literacy capabilities? Read on!
What Can I Do?
If you’re already in a sector and/or job you love, talk to your employer about upskilling in areas such as using pivot tables in Excel, working with data in Microsoft’s Power BI (business intelligence) or learning introductory coding (read on for more information on that!). You can also try learning new marketing skills such as search engine optimization (SEO) or learning how to use creative software programs like Adobe and Figma.
But I’m Not Really Technical (Yet)
For those looking to pivot into tech but are not sure where to start, think about what you do on a day-to-day basis that is a transferable skill:
This is the process of finding solutions to often difficult or complex issues. It’s a vital skill in any sector and no more so than in tech. Every day you routinely gather and analyze ‘data’ of some sort to put forth a solution that remedies an issue in your job. In tech, for example, a frontend developer creates websites and a backend developer looks for broken code.
While you might think a tech career means sitting alone behind a computer screen, the reality is that a job in tech means working collaboratively within—and across—teams. Communication is crucial for career success and those transferable skills include developing effective relationships, assertiveness and active listening. For example, the role of an agile coach in tech is to foster effective, transparent and cohesive teams.
Building on interpersonal skills, good leadership is an excellent asset to have in a wide range of industries. And tech is certainly no exception. Effective leadership is the ability to build trust, have great communication skills and vision. A technical team leader is responsible for product delivery and it can touch on everything from design and development to finance to collaborating with customers.
We all deliver assignments and projects with deadlines in any job we do. We need to deliver on time and on budget. In tech, meeting deadlines is crucial as many other pieces of work can get held up until other jobs are completed. If the role of tech is to save time and effort, then time management skills are an excellent transferable skill you already have. For example, a scrum master uses a framework for project management to emphasize teamwork, accountability, iterative processes and yes, time management to reach the organization’s goals.
Being able to think creatively is another key transferable skill. Tech is another platform for creativity to thrive in. Creativity allows us tackle challenges with new insights or to design websites designed to appeal to users. Creativity is also about innovation, fostering growth and improving productivity, and isn’t just relegated to the designers.
I’m Still Not Sure
Your career path so far has been non-technical and perhaps you’re still thinking about your transferable skills. There are also non-technical roles you may want to consider. In this way, if you change jobs, you’re pivoting first into the tech sector to see if there’s a fit for you. Non-technical roles include:
- Finance (e.g. managing income and expenses; preparing cash-flow statements; budgeting)
- HR (e.g. recruiting; hiring; onboarding; training; compensation and benefits)
- Product Management (e.g. planning and co-ordinating product improvements; feature upgrades; product version releases)
- Product Marketing (e.g. introducing a product to the market; strategies to promote it; ways to sell it to customers)
Other non-technical roles can include branding, social media, content creation and customer success.
She Loves Data offers online and offline events that cover data and tech, digital marketing, business discussions and essential skills. Our events are free and, unless stated otherwise, our events are open to anyone. Start with online courses and introductions and we encourage you to attend as many events and courses as you can. You can test the waters and see where your interests and abilities take you. This month there is an Intro to Data and data analytics for complete beginners and an Intro to Python (a programming language used to build websites and software, and conduct data analysis). Our courses are a great way to begin your tech journey. And if you’re still not sure you can explore mentoring options as well.
Technology has boosted every industry and it’s an inevitability we can’t ignore. But it’s also not yet inclusive or diverse enough. Data and tech need you: your voice, your experience and your talent. Join us in helping to close the gender and skills gap in a growing field that offers so much positive opportunity for you and our communities.
I am so excited about writing this article I don’t even know how to begin. Really, I am a journalist by trade but the last time I wrote for a newspaper was in 2010. Since then I have had many other jobs, but I haven’t felt the pressure of a deadline in a long time.
So, why am I writing this article then?
Well, someone suggested I write about my experience with She Loves Data events. I couldn’t say no. It was an excellent chance to flex my muscles as a writer.
Who was that person?
Let me tell you more…
The first time I saw Jana was at the Data is the new black event, back in March. I have to say my expectations for the event weren’t that great. I had been to many events “for women” where a few successful ladies give pep talks to an audience of mostly expat women who are looking for inspiration, validation and a purpose. What usually happens in these talks is that I leave feeling less inspired and even more frustrated. Why can they do it but I can’t? How can they be so fit and successful? When did they learn how to create their own businesses? How can they run their own business when I can’t even find a job?
Singapore can be very harsh to women, especially when we don’t work. Employers tend to assume we are bored women looking for something to keep us entertained, and not smart women with skills and something to bring to the table. I was asked several times in interviews what my husband does. I was also asked who would take care of my daughter if I started working. I was even told that my salary expectations were too high and that “I didn’t really need the money”.
To be asked these questions and to have these sorts of assumptions made about me is infuriating.
So, what am I still doing in Singapore?
Jana has a lot to do with it. See, I was totally wrong about the content of the event. The all-female panel shared struggles, talked about difficulties, explained how difficult life was at moments. They didn’t rub their success in the audience’s face. These women overcame obstacles, jumped through hoops and over hurdles to get where they are. They all had things in common: being women, incredibly bright, humble and working in the data field, whether by chance or by choice. I still wasn’t sure what data was about, but I was truly inspired and I needed to learn more. I went home and started researching, I read articles and watched videos. I learned about data visualization tools and realised that it all tied in really neatly with my background.
And what background is that?
I am Portuguese and left my home country fresh out of university, in 2004, to pursue my dream of being a journalist. I moved to Spain where I worked for several newspapers and magazines. But the economic crisis hit hard and many papers went bankrupt, including my main clients.
It was time to pack my bags and go back home. Obviously, after making a living from chasing stories, asking uncomfortable questions and writing for hours… after years of arriving home late and eating cold pizza in the morning, how was I going to get my kick of adrenaline? PR and event management didn’t really work so I started teaching.
What? How do you even go from A to B?
With bills to pay and putting to good use something I already knew. In my case, Spanish and English. I taught children, teenagers, adults, corporate, public schools, one-to-one, large groups, you name it. The adrenaline was back! Standing in from of people, teaching them a new skill, listening to their questions, thinking on my feet. When preparing my classes I always tried to add some humour and make things light and fun.
A year went by and I had to decide whether to renew for another year or move again as life was getting quite claustrophobic. In a turn of events that included the start of a new relationship I packed my bags again and went to the UK. I was going to keep on teaching but ended up working in an International School where I quickly went from Receptionist to Deputy Director of Studies. Soon there would be a restructure and I applied for a job in a university. I got it and in under a year I went from Administrative Assistant to Senior Officer. It was a great job: I led a student support team with 7 amazing women and about 8.000 students.
What does this all have to do with data?
Great question, as the politicians would say. At the time I didn’t know, but I was dealing with raw data and trying to make sense of it every single day. I dealt with students, modules, schedules, classes, allocations. It would’ve been a lot easier to do that with some specific software and a data analyst in the team. As a journalist, I had to read reports and write articles. I was the one deciding what information to use and knowing what mattered to my readers. This is also data analysis. Who knew?!
What was my next step?
I kept a close eye on this She Loves Data thing and as soon as they announced another event I signed up. The event was called “Introduction to Data Analytics” and it was only for women. About a hundred of us attended this all-day masterclass on the basics of Data Analysis.
How did it go?
It was awesome! I saw Jana again and confirmed that she is set in helping women find the best in themselves: to develop new skills and to find or confirm their worth. Right at the start, she showed everyone how to connect with each other on LinkedIn. On that day this network became interesting to me.
Jana then introduced Quinn Pham, from Meiro, and Steve Remington from Minerra. They spent hours teaching new terminology, showing software, breaking down things that seemed very complicated. We discussed data visualization and context. This was definitely not an event for techies… I am not one and enjoyed every minute of it. I learned that interpreting data is no different from translating from one language to another. I also learned that pie charts make Steve’s cats sad. Trust me on this one, after hearing Steve talk about pie charts you will not see them in the same way again.
Who else was there?
Asides from the dozens of women from all sorts of backgrounds and industries, many of whom I had the pleasure of talking to during and after the event, the She Loves Data team brought some heavy-weights to share their professional journeys: Katrien Bollen from Google, Melissa Ries from Tibco, Stephanie Chin from HP. Down to earth women who have been where some of us are: suffering from imposter syndrome, feeling like we are not worthy of a seat at the table. Let me tell you that the seat at the table is not Thor’s hammer. You don’t have to be worthy… you just need to want it.
What happened after the workshop?
I approached Jana, Quinn and Steve. I told them how much I had enjoyed the event and how friendly the environment was. I also liked how the trainers were not patronising or condescending.
We shared contacts and I got in touch with Jana and asked if I could join her, Pavel, Quinn, Steve, Nelya, Patricia, Alex and many other volunteers who are making the world a better place by including and welcoming women into a field that traditionally is difficult for us to access.
Well, now I finished writing my first article as Content Producer for SLD. Soon I’ll start co-managing the newsletter with the help and support of some incredibly bright and friendly people. I am proud to say I have found my #DataTribe.