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Are Certifications More Important then Experience?


Preparing to enter the job market is a task that can take years and even decades. Parents start preparing their kids for an eventual job and a career practically from the moment they set foot in a classroom. As one progresses through the stages of their chosen career, people start to think about the kind of education they wish to get to advance. One of the most often asked questions is what matters most during the application process. Is it important to have the right educational background often via a series of certifications that prove one’s knowledge? Or does years of practical experience count? Is a demonstration of knowledge more important to a potential employer or will they prefer someone with years of experience in a specific field? The answer to these questions depend on a wide variety of factors. In many fields, employees must ask themselves this very question as they stay on the job. In truth many employers prefer a combination of the two when they can find it. Theoretical knowledge that has been backed by a demonstration of practical results is one of the best ways to catch the eye of any employer. The best candidate for any job will always be able to demonstrate that they understand all aspects of the job they are seeking. The best candidate will also be able to demonstrate they have up to date credentials and ideally well aware of all important developments in their chosen field.

Certification is Essential

In some fields certification is an essential requirement to be hired. It is literally against the law for the person to be hired for the job unless they can present evidence of state certification. For example, a potential registered nurse must have completed a training course mandated by the state. The candidate for the nursing job must then pass a state licensing exam. Without this certification from the state, she cannot be legally hired by anyone. The nurse must show her potential employer that she has mastered all aspects of her job including both practical and theoretical knowledge. However, in many cases, it can be hard for her to get a job straight out school with only her nursing license and training classes to show her employer. Many employers prefer candidates for specific nursing jobs who have at least a year of experience in the field of patient care. In that case, the nurse is presented with a dilemma. She must have both experience and certification to get hired. Many nurses are able to get around the experience requirement by taking jobs that often have less responsibility but offer her the chance to gain much needed job experience. The same is often true for many such jobs. Employers will hire people with the necessary certifications that do not have the exact experience they desire. In that case certification is indeed essential but experience on the job rather far less so. The candidate cannot be hired unless they have completed the necessary certification course.

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When Certification Programs Make Sense

When-Certification-Programs-Make-SenseThe decision to pursue certification in a specific field is often something potential candidates weigh heavily before beginning. Taking a certification class requires the expenditure of money as well as time spent to study the material and earn the qualification. It is a major commitment that can be difficult to meet. The amount of time spent for each certification varies. It often depends on the subject. Certain certifications, such as those required to become an LPN or licensed practical nurse, may take as long as eighteen months to complete fully. Candidates may be required to spend an unpaid term on the job learning it. Other certifications, such as that required to be a phlebotomist, can often be completed in under six months or even as little as three months should the candidate opt to study full time. In cases where certification is a matter of attending a few short classes, demonstrating mastery of the material and passing a state licensing exam with a high overall pass rate, it makes a great deal of sense to earn the certification. In such cases the certification teaches to applicant the fundamental aspects of the job. A real estate agent cannot sell houses unless they have a real estate license. This certification is widely available, relatively inexpensive and a basic requirement for the job. The same is true of many other certifications. Certified nursing assistants, hairdressers, HVAC technicians, paralegals, paramedics, personal trainers must all earn a certification from the state indicating they are capable of preforming the basic tasks of the job in a satisfactory manner. All must earn their certification from the state in order to be hired for the job.

When It Does Not Make Sense to Get Certified

In some cases, it does not make sense for the potential job applicant to get certified. In certain jobs, experience is far more highly valued than a degree. This is often the case where demonstrated skills are the most important aspect of the job. Those who hire writers rarely require the writer to have a degree in English. An applicant who has years of writing important articles for major newspaper will often have far more of a chance of getting the job than someone fresh out of school who has gotten nothing professionally published. The same is true of many sales jobs. An applicant who has a proven record of greatly increasing sales will have a far greater edge to an employer than someone who has just graduated from Harvard Business School. In some fields, this can be a grey area. A restaurant may like to see evidence that a potential chef has completed training courses in areas related to his field such as budgeting and safety regulations. However, often the prime factor in determining who gets hired is simply how well the chef can cook. A chef who serves burned steak and overdone vegetables will not be hired no matter how high his grades were in culinary school.

Think Carefully Before You Begin

Think-Carefully-Before-You-BeginIf you are thinking about attending a training program, the most important factor in any decision is just how much you want the job. If you love to drive, it makes sense to get a commercial driver’s license and get a job as a truck driver. It may also make sense to go further and earn a HAZMAT endorsement enabling you to transport potentially dangerous goods across state lines. This can increase your salary and chances of being hired at little extra cost. If you want to work in the medical field, you will find many varied options. Becoming a doctor is obviously going to mean spending years studying medicine and paying for a degree. In many cases, however a certification in a specific field of medicine such as x-ray technician, requires far less training. Someone who is just looking for a job in the medical field without much experience in this area must wish to consider earning just such a certification. They can often enter the job field immediately upon completing the training program. Someone who is already in the field may wish to earn a certification to further his career. In that case, this can greatly enhance his credentials. A candidate who has both years of experience in the field and multiple certification certificates is often the ideal candidate for the job. The potential employer will note that the employee has not only spent years on the job, but has also expanded his knowledge base along the way.

In all cases, when deciding whether to enter a certification program, the choice should always rest with the educated consumer. Find out as much as you can before you begin, think about it carefully and you will be happy with the results.