Back to School: Professional Certifications for Career Advancement

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It’s back to school time! Of course, not everybody is going back to school. If you’re a working professional without any immediate plans to continue your academic career, you may feel that you’re done with school for good. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop learning, growing or, most importantly, advancing.

Professional certifications offer an opportunity to get to the next level of your career, and most of them require a lot less commitment of both your time and money than a degree program. Demand is high for skilled workers, so the right certification can make a big difference.

Which certifications are getting employees noticed in your field? We asked expert Aerotek recruiters for their recommendations on what certifications help the most.

Scientific and health care careers

For those interested in lab work, Aerotek Lead Recruiter Marc Miller feels that certification can give job-seekers a competitive edge. “I usually recommend a biotech certificate,” says Miller, “I see a ton of companies that will hire certificate level candidates due to the specialized training they receive from those programs.”

You can look into biotech lab technician programs at your local community colleges. Most can be finished in less than a year, and fit around a full-time work schedule.

What about registered nurses looking to take that next step ahead? Recruiter Andre Thompson says, “The Certified Case Manager — CCM — certificate requires nurses to have at least 12 months of case management experience, take a test and pay the annual certification fee. But many employers will supplement the maintenance cost of the certification so their nurses can perform specific duties. Ask your employer, or potential employer, about certifications. Another one I recommend is National Committee for Quality Assurance — NCQA — if you’re seeking utilization management opportunities.”

And if you’re looking for an entry point to the growing health care industry, Aerotek Account Manager Adam Ziegel suggests becoming a medical assistant, but warns, “Due to new laws mandated, any medical assistant that is entering information into an EMR system for a physician must, by law, get a CMA — Certified Medical Assistant — certification from the American Association of Medical Assistants.”

Professional services

Is your background in administrative and professional services? If so, Aerotek Account Manager Christopher Stead says specialty certifications can offer you a great opportunity to branch out.

He says, “I find myself looking for medical biller and coder candidates frequently, and if you have any official medical billing certification such as CPC (Certified Medical Coder), that can help a bunch.”

Construction and engineering

Want to stay active in construction? Certifications can help you earn placements on a wider variety of job sites.

Aerotek Account Recruiting Manager Kyle O’Brien says, “OSHA 10 is a standard to get on a lot of larger construction job sites. EPA Universal is must for all the HVAC techs and building engineers I work with. BICSI or NICET certifications in cable, telecomm and alarm systems are a huge plus for low voltage work. And any training or certifications from the IEC (Independent Electrical Contractors) carries a lot of weight.”

If you’re looking to get more involved in infrastructure and environmental engineering work, Recruiter Eric Sammon recommends, “RTT (Roadway Testing Technician) ACI (American Concrete Institute) QCT (Quality Control Technician) NICET, and ICC Soils.” Practice Lead Gary Klutts clarifies, “Those certs are typically most useful for construction materials testers and for construction engineering and inspection (CEI) projects.”

According to Recruiter Geoffrey Mitchell, certifications are also a great way to prepare yourself for the ongoing surge in networked building maintenance. He says, “For the building automation industry, having a certification in the Niagara programming framework from Tridium University can be attractive to employers, especially those with HVAC and automation-critical facilities such as data centers.”

If you’re a networking engineer looking to work inside those data centers, Aerotek Recruiter Lazaro Becerra recommends, “Having a Cisco CCNA and CCNP certification is helpful for when it comes to getting a job in the network industry. Employers tend to appreciate that certificate.”

Clinical positions

In case you hadn’t noticed, the wide array of available professional certifications can look a lot like alphabet soup. Case in point: Aerotek National Recruiter Kaliyah Jackson says candidates in clinical research positions such as lab tech should go for “CCRP, SOCRA, ACRP and CCRC!”

That’s a Certified Clinical Research Professional certification, or any other administered by SOCRA (Society of Clinical Research Associates) or ACRP (Association of Clinical Research Professionals), such as Certified Clinical Research Coordinator.

Learn more

Want to know more about how to stand out among other applicants? Check out some of our past articles on the subject: “Industry-Specific Ways to Stand Out Among Skilled Workers,” and “5 Ways to Clear Your Aviation Career for Takeoff.”

Get help

Not all professional certifications are created equal. If you’re considering going “back to school” for a non-degree professional certification, find out what will help you the most. You can always talk with an Aerotek recruiter for expert advice that pertains to your particular situation.

And if you’re looking for a job, visit our job board to find your next great opportunity. Create a free career account today to customize your search.