Part of growing as a young professional is being willing to continually learn and knowing your education should never stop. To continue your education and customize it to your career goals, certifications can be helpful. Obtaining a certification can provide internal and external validation of expertise, and demonstrate you have a certain skillset with the test results to prove it. Certifications demonstrate your expertise to peers, superiors, business partners and clients.
Certifications should not just check a box
Do not get a certification to meet the criteria of a particular job. Think proactively about what a certification can do for you. Does is it open you up to a new opportunity? Will training for the certification be a valuable learning opportunity? Obtaining certifications should be part of your personal and professional development plans – those that are formally documented at your job and those that excite you to get out of bed each day.
Ask others for advice
If you are unsure about what certification is right for you or want some additional validation, ask a mentor, sponsor or manager for recommendations on what certifications might be right for you based on your goals. While you may have a certification in mind, it does not hurt to have an outside, experienced perspective to consider before you commit. Also, reach out to individuals at your company who have a certification you are interested in pursuing to find out what value it has provided for them, plus any tips they have.
Be ready to invest in yourself
Certifications can be costly, especially those that are highly technical and specialized. Make sure you are ready to make the monetary and time investment necessary to make the expense worthwhile. See if your company sponsors certifications/training and be ready to provide business justification if you are asking for reimbursement for your training.
Prepare for certification maintenance
Keep in mind the ongoing obligations that come with certain professional certifications. Some require ongoing continuing education, annual fees and other efforts on your part to show the maintenance of your certification. Make sure when you seek the initial certification that you are prepared for the later requirements that may follow.
Keep learning your whole career
Getting certified should not be a one-time event, but instead should be part of your lifelong learning plan that evolves with your career. Set a schedule for yourself to review your certifications and look for new opportunities as your career path winds. Setting goals that include learning as a key element will help you remain satisfied in your career and prove to partners and clients that you are invested in personal growth.
Editor’s note: For more resources for young professionals, visit www.isaca.org/young-professionals. For information on ISACA’s certifications, visit www.isaca.org/certification.