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Five Overlooked Benefits of Having an IT Certification

IT certifications remain a hot topic of discussion in IT, digital trust and related fields. With the ever-growing amount that are available covering an expanding range of topics, the question that remains in the minds of new candidates in the industry is, “Should I earn an IT certification (and why)?”

The benefits of an IT certification are numerous and often discussed amongst industry professionals. Many of the same advantages are highlighted time and time again, but what about the less obvious values of earning IT certifications? In this blog post, ISACA Now will explore five commonly overlooked benefits of having an IT certification for you and for your employer.

What are the benefits of IT certification?

Before we dive into overlooked benefits, let’s recap some of the basics when it comes to certification value. There are several benefits to the many IT certifications you can earn. Some of the more well-known benefits include:

  1. Knowledge—Looking to learn more about general, technical, specialized or executive areas of digital trust, cybersecurity, privacy, risk, audit, governance or related IT fields? Earning an IT certification is the perfect way to create foundational understandings of the industry’s inner-workings, or to add onto and refine already existing knowledge. Even if you already possess industry experience and skill sets, adding a certification to your repertoire builds upon that foundation, enhances it and allows you to stay up to date on the latest trends and information.
  1. Validation—Once you have that knowledge, IT certifications enable you to easily showcase it to your peers, industry professionals and potential employers. Certification abbreviations after your name on your LinkedIn and CV signal to others that you dedicated your time and energy to learning and earning valuable credentials. IT certifications are recognizable achievements that demonstrate your dedication to your area of expertise and prove your proficiency.
  1. Marketability—In today’s competitive job market, especially for security and digital trust professionals, IT certifications help differentiate you from other job applicants. In-demand credentials offer you a competitive edge over peers by illustrating your commitment to your role and to continued learning. Additionally, employers can rest assured that you are capable and knowledgeable in your field, as certifications provide a clear outline of topics, applications, labs and/or exams for which candidates must demonstrate proficiency.
  1. Credibility—When you have the stamp of approval from a reputable organization on your side, peers, coworkers and employers in the field will be able to recognize the value of your involvement in discussions and work. They will know that your contributions are coming from a place of validated knowledge and experience, giving you a respected reputation and adding legitimacy to your influence.
  1. Earning—IT certifications can open up new job opportunities for which being certified is required, prepare you to qualify for more managerial and executive positions, and potentially earn you a bonus in positions where certain certifications are preferred. Certifications can not only help entry- and mid-level professionals move up in their field, but they can also make it easier for established professionals to transition into positions that would be difficult to secure without the proper credentials.

Which benefits of IT certification are overlooked?

Many benefits of IT certification are not as immediately clear as those that are most commonly discussed. Some require a bit of additional effort on your part but are well worth it in the end. Some benefits extend beyond yourself and apply to your employer and organization as a whole.

Five overlooked benefits of having an IT certification are:

For you,

  1. Building a case for promotions—Building up the courage to request a promotion is difficult, but creating a solid case for yourself can help add to your professional self-confidence and reinforce your candidacy for that position you desire. IT certifications can act as tangible and measurable proof of your relevant skills and qualifications for that next role in your career. Your higher-ups can recognize the effort you are putting in to not only improving your work but also to educating yourself with updated resources and furthering your expertise in your field.
  1. Expanding your professional network—Once you earn a specific certification, you create a common ground with other certified professionals in your field to build new relationships. You effectively join a peer group of professionals who share the same credential, broadening your professional network. Whether you are at an industry event like a conference, participating in a discussion in an online forum like the certification communities on Engage or simply chatting with a coworker in the office, sharing an IT certification not only provides you with knowledge to share with others but also provides a starting point for conversations. You will learn quite a bit while you are earning your certification, but you might learn equally as much from the conversations you can have with your peers about it.
  1. Achieving professional and personal goals—It is easy to set goals but less so to achieve them. Without outlining practical and realistic steps to those goals, it will be much harder to reach them or dedicate the proper time to them. Earning a certification is an actionable step you can take to expanding your industry knowledge, honing your current skill sets, moving into more executive positions or transitioning into a new field. On a more personal level, maybe you set a New Year’s resolution to learn more about a topic you are unfamiliar with—like software development, cloud computing or cybersecurity—or maybe you want to rededicate yourself to your craft or to furthering your education. IT certifications can act as functional, practical proof of you working toward and achieving your goals.

For your employer,

  1. Increasing job retention—In a time of economic uncertainty, retaining the talent that is essential for a business to function is incredibly important. Investing in employees is investing in the future of a business, and providing them with the opportunity to build up their skills and knowledge is mutually beneficial for both parties. As ISACA Board Director Rob Clyde wrote in an article for Infosecurity, “One temptation security leaders should avoid is to slash the budget in areas such as training, certifications and providing high-impact security tools. Even when the economy is in a downturn, security professionals will remain in demand, and if they are not provided with the resources and professional development opportunities needed to be successful, they are likely to leave and go to a competitor.”
  1. Accessing partner programs—In order to be a part of certain partner programs, like Google Cloud’s Partner Advantage, companies must have a specified amount of workers who remain certified with their partner organization. Not only does doing so allow the company to continue enjoying the benefits of their partner organization’s services, but employees can continue to build up their skills and knowledge by earning and retaining such certifications. This extends even further beyond employees and organizations to customers and other professionals that may interact and do business with them.

There is no shortage of benefits of an IT certification for you, your organization and industry professionals with whom you interact. From the knowledge, validation, marketability, credibility and earning power they provide to the potential promotions, expanded network, achievements, job retention and partner program access, the list of reasons to earn an IT certification go on and on—and many of them often go overlooked. As new certifications are developed and well-established ones are updated and refined, there are always opportunities for you to advance your education, sharpen your skills and dedicate yourself to your field.

Editor’s note: Find out more about ISACA’s credentials here.

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