Is getting a certification worth it? Perception of certifications

There is a ton of information out there about the positive impacts additional certifications can have on your career. And since there ARE already enough articles and videos that cover these career and salary impacts, let’s read between the lines instead and discover the grey areas—rarely talked about—when it comes to deciding “for” or “against” a certification.

What impact will it have on your self-esteem?

The first – rarely discussed – perspective to consider is what the certification does for YOU and how you perceive yourself. Will getting this certification build up YOUR self-esteem and confidence?

When I began reaching out to former and current clients, to receive my CSP (Certified Speaking Professional by the National Speakers Association,) I remember looking to document hundreds of speaking engagements and include testimonials to get certified as a speaker.

This was a long and quite frankly exhausting process. However, as I sat down looking at the excel spreadsheet that was coming together, I thought to myself… WOW! I’m actually doing it.

This gave me a feeling of accomplishment and made all the extra effort worth it. It gave ME all the confidence to reach out to clients and book new speaking engagements.

Therefore, although it may not have changed OTHER’S perception of me, it advanced my career and business because of the way it made ME feel about myself.

Is it the right timing?

However, you also need to consider the perfect timing of the certification. It can be too early or too late – or just right. Are you simply trying to stay as current as possible in your industry, or will this set you back further and leave others wondering, for example, … what took you so long?

Finding the right moment for an additional certification is crucial in actually getting what you want out of it… which is usually getting AHEAD.

What does the price tag and investment tell others about you?

In this, it is also essential to consider the price point at which you receive this training and certification. First, whether it will set YOU back financially and leave you in a bad place, or if it is really the right investment. Also, remember that the price ticket for a certification is often available for everyone to see online and says something to others about your ability to invest in yourself. How you invest in yourself tells clients how you are willing to invest in them.

How many certifications are too many?

Because are you just picking up random labels and certifications? Yes, the quality perception of your certification is essential, but so is the quantity.

If you build your reputation on adding letters to your last name or logos and labels to your website, people could assume you build your reputation on

  • theories only,
  • on easy-to-achieve, fast, and cheap credentials
  • and on certifications where obviously – in their perception – no prior experience or hard work to achieve it was necessary.

Yes, it is common for many to want to add letters behind their names to gain certifications to make them seem more qualified, even if the certification itself isn’t overly helpful. However, it’s also essential to take a look at your motivation. If it is simply to impress others rather than build your knowledge, you may be in it for the wrong reasons.

How does it position you along with your peers and competitors?

The next perspective I want you to consider is not only how your potential clients will view your certification, but how you will stand up to your PEERS or COMPETITORS. Will receiving this certification make you more of an expert in your industry or workplace? How does this certification position you on the market – and also in their minds?

Will this certification expand your network?

Next, could this certification help you build new partnerships and gain opportunities? Because whenever you take on further training, you have the chance to network. This actually may be the most valuable aspect of a certification. The certification will put you into one group with individuals who seem to have the same standards as you do.

What does the certification provider’s reputation say about you?

However, do you want to be part of this group? Because this also brings up the aspect of considering the reputation of the certification provider. Their reputation will become part of yours too.

And when checking out their reputation, make sure to also check if the certification provider ANY prior alumni actually show any “proof of concept” that their strategies lead you to where you should be. Think of the personal fitness trainer who is not in shape, the financial adviser who doesn’t live an abundant life, the marriage counselor who is divorced.

What is the learning or professional growth that graduates of this certification program have shown? Depending on the success of those who HAVE this certification, you will want to consider if you want to be in this group of alumni and if you wish to have the skillset that you see in them.

This will provide insight into the long-term benefits of the certification. If those holding this certification hold the positions you see yourself having 10, 20, 30 years down the line, maybe this will help you accomplish your goals.

What if you fail?

Finally, while most certification providers WANT to see you succeed ….. what if you don’t? What if the time needed or workload is too much for you to manage… what could the long-term impacts be of NOT being able to complete the certification

  • on yourself and your self-esteem and
  • on those who somehow were involved in the process. How will you communicate to them if things didn’t work out – for whatever reason? And how will this possibly change their opinion about you?

By thinking through some of these questions, you will find yourself better in determining how you will personally benefit from the certification and how your relationships and collaborations can benefit from you having this knowledge.

Regardless of – if you get certifications or not – remember that it is essential to keep learning throughout your career! Stay interested and up to date on the latest within your industry.