Work Enhancements

How certification increases your professional worth

Just months after graduating with a degree in accounting, Nigel Franklyn dove back into the books and began the long process of becoming certified.

“Pursuing the certified public accountant designation helped me master necessary fundamental skills,” says Franklyn, a New-York based manager in the financial services practice of KPMG, a global network of firms providing audit, tax, and advisory services.

There are, in fact, a growing number of professionals seeking certification in a variety of areas, says Pete Woods, manager of certification for WorldatWork, an international association focused on training and certifying human resources professionals. He asserts that certification, a process of accreditation that verifies an individual’s specific knowledge, skills, and ability to perform a particular job, has become a trend–especially in emerging and rapidly changing specialty areas.

“Accounting is a profession besieged with constantly changing regulatory demands and public scrutiny; certification is the single most important step to remain abreast of changes and to advance professionally,” says George Willie, a CPA for 30 years and an American Institute of Certified Accountants board member.

According to a 2005 SmartPros survey, accountants with at least one professional certification reported substantially higher salaries than accountants with no certification. But accountants aren’t the only ones who can benefit from certification, says Joy Alexander, vice president of permanent placement at Robert Half International, the world’s largest specialized staffing recruitment firm.

“Employers are always working to distinguish great candidates from the sea of those who are just OK,” he says. “Professional endorsements differentiate candidates.”

But with more than 1,500 certification programs listed in the Certification and Accreditation Programs Directory (Gale Group; $79.98), Woods says that choosing the right certification can be just as important as deciding to acquire certification.

In these five industries, certification is certain to boost your career:
Financial Services Many financial professionals are required to obtain certification before offering highly regulated services. Visit the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants at www.aicpa.org; Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. at www.cfp.net; Investment Management Consultants Association at www.imca.org; and the American Academy of Financial Management at www.financialcertified.com.

Financial Services Many financial professionals are required to obtain certification before offering highly regulated services. Visit the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants at www.aicpa.org; Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. at www.cfp.net; Investment Management Consultants Association at www.imca.org; and the American Academy of Financial Management at www.financialcertified.com.

Project Management Visit the Project Management Institute at www.pmi.org.

Human Resources For certification info, contact the Human Resources Certification Institute at www.hrci.org.

Healthcare A number of organizations provide certification, including the American Board of Medical Specialties at www.abms.org; National Healthcareer Association at www.nhanow .com, and Advanced Medical Assistant at www.certmedassistant .com.

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