December 2016 | Commentary | Smart Moves

Pursuing a Certificate? Learn Before You Act

Tags: Education & Careers, Certifications, Logistics, Education, Supply Chain

Thomas W. Derry is Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Supply Management, 480-752-6276

People who are successful in their profession consistently challenge themselves to learn more, regularly attend professional meetings to network with peers and mentors, and seek out opportunities to expand their education.

Are you thinking about pursuing a certificate or certification in the supply management profession to enhance your knowledge and improve your career possibilities? Here's a checklist to get you started thinking about the best course of action for you.

  1. Know the difference between a certificate and professional certification. Certificate programs and certification programs are designed to meet different needs, according to the Institute for Credentialing Excellence.

    An assessment-based certificate program is designed to acquire specific knowledge, skills, or other competencies, and awards a certificate to recognize mastery of the specific learning outcomes. A professional or personnel certification program is designed to validate participants' competency after verifying they have met predetermined, standardized criteria, and awards professional designations to recognize that achievement.

    Certifications, which require you demonstrate not just that you've studied a topic, but also that you have the knowledge and experience to back it up, typically lend more value to your career.

  2. Research the organizations offering the certificates or certifications. Credible, recognizable organizations with proven track records are usually the most reliable. Make sure you're able to answer the following questions:
    • How long have the organizations been in business?
    • Do they have a long history of awarding certificates or certifications?
    • How widely recognized are their certificates or certifications?
    • How many people hold their certificates or certifications?
    • What type of study support do they offer and how flexible are the study sessions?
  3. Talk with supply management professionals who are certified. Do a LinkedIn search and ask around at professional networking events to find out what certificates or certifications are most popular among your peers in the supply management industry. Also, look at people who hold positions to which you aspire. What certificates or certifications do they have?

    Ask the people who hold those certificates or certifications:

    • Why do you think this certification or certificate is worthwhile?
    • What benefit did you get from attaining it?
    • Does it build upon what you learned in college?
    • Do you think this certificate or certification is necessary to work in this field?
    • Were you able to coordinate the time requirement to earn this certificate or certification with your job responsibilities?
    • What is the cost to get and stay certified?
    • What are the requirements?

You can also check with your company's HR director to find out how valuable the certificate or certification is to your employer. Identify if it's a prerequisite for career advancement or if it will help you achieve salary increases.

You can't go wrong by enhancing your education, but you should always make sure you're getting the greatest benefit from your financial investment and valuable time. There are options, so make sure you do your homework and determine the career advancement option that's best for you.






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