Gen Z Evaluates Going To College Or Getting Important Job-Based Certifications. Why Certain Careers Might Be Better Suited To Certifications

Remember when your parents told you that getting a good college degree and making a good first impression is key during your career search. That all you needed was a solid, polished resume that showcased your education and internships. While that’s all good, showing potential employers that you’re actively improving yourself with knowledge and skills by highlighting valuable certifications is what might actually make you a more appealing candidate. Would it surprise you that there are quite a few companies that don’t require a college degree but love certifications? Well, Google, Apple, Hilton, Lowes, Nordstrom and IBM go out of there way to let candidates know they are looking for talent, not necessarily degrees. Why is that?

Conventional education like university programs, college degrees and vocational training aren’t designed to cope with the rapid changes of industry, while online certifications are devised specifically with this end objective in mind. Depending on the college and the major, most experts agree that universities are at least 10 years behind on the teaching curriculum. The world is moving faster and the universities are not geared for this rapid change. Regardless of your situation, college degree or not, you may need to get certified to advance in your career.

Certifications will get you noticed, if they are the right certifications. If your career is related to online marketing, data analytics, security, ecommerce or cloud, certifications from brands like Microsoft, Hubspot, Adobe, Salesforce, Google, and a few others will get you more than noticed. It just might get you the job or the promotion. Why? Because the world is moving so fast, employers no longer have the luxury of on the job training. They would rather hire the skillset and knowledge.

Simply put, online/offline certifications deliver incredible returns for the investment, both in terms of time and resources. While a college or university degree takes three to five years to finish, online certification programs run for no longer than a few weeks or a couple of months, depending on the field of study. Increased employer recognition and the tangible benefits that follow from having a certification to your name have made this a popular choice for professionals around the world. And more people are working remotely based on the latest research. Gen Z seems to be embracing several trends which is to be entrepreneurial, travel, try to avoid college debt and to embrace the remote work trend started by Millennials.

According to Upwork, 57 million people did freelance work in 2018 and that trend continues to grow with remote workers. That’s 36% of the working population of the United States! The pull of a freer lifestyle and flexible working hours have been the main reasons an increasing number of professionals are opting for freelance careers. And they are using online certifications to build their expertise, knowledge and credibility. Ten years ago, perhaps few would have attached any credibility to online certifications. Today, online certifications might carry more value and credibility than perhaps a university degree.

Burning Glass, an analytics software company that research’s job growth, skills in demand, and labor market trends released a report in 2019 entitled: The Narrow Ladder: The Value of Industry Certifications in the Job Market. In this report, Burning Glass brings clarity to the debate by reviewing job posting data to examine the market value of industry certifications. They used their database of more than 700 million historical job postings, to track how often employers explicitly ask for these credentials, and in what context. The key findings on certifications are listed below:
– The impact of these credentials is potent but narrow, with employer demand confined to a handful of certifications. In fact, the top 50 certifications account for two-thirds of all requests in job postings.
– In career fields that value these credentials, they carry a significant salary premium (as much as 18% in the sample research).
– Certifications fall into two broad categories, each with its own distinct impact: Door Openers, which help new labor market entrants enter a field; and Career Escalators, which pave the path for experienced workers’ upward mobility.
– Certifications are most likely to gain market acceptance when they validate hard-to-fill skills or readiness for hard-to-fill jobs.

No matter your career ambitions, entrepreneur or corporate career, evaluate what you need to succeed. It could be a college degree or perhaps a special certification.

Bernhard Schroeder, Contributor, Small Business Strategy, 2 Dec 2019.

By Laura Garza
Laura Garza Career Coach Laura Garza