Become Marketable With These Business Certifications

Earn These Business Certifications

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What Is Business Certification?

Many professionals earn certifications in their fields. In business and other industries, professional certification is proof that you are qualified in a particular area. You knowledge is usually tested through a formal procedure (such as an exam) and then affirmed by an authorized person, group, or association. For example, an accounts payable professional can become a Certified Accounts Payable Professional (CAPP) by passing an exam offered by The Institute of Financial Operations.

It is important to remember that professional certification and licensure are two different things. Certification is typically voluntary; in other words, you don't have to earn a certification to practice in your field. Furthermore, certification is awarded by a private organization, not a government entity.

Licensure, on the other hand, is often required to practice certain professions. For example, you need a license to teach in a public school. Licenses are usually awarded by a state government authority. Although some states refer to their licensing programs as certification programs, there is a clear legal difference between professional certification and licensure.

Why Earn Business Certifications?

There are lots of reasons why people earn professional certifications in the business field. But the most common motivations involve demonstrating expertise, boosting career options, and increasing salary offers.

Some employers may prefer to hire candidates with certification because these candidates have demonstrated their commitment and qualifications by earning certification in their profession. Although certification doesn't guarantee that candidates will be a good fit for the company, or even good at their job, it does show that they have a certain level of knowledge in a particular area.

Which Business Certification Should I Earn?

There are hundreds of different professional certifications for business professionals. The certifications that will best suit your career are the ones that are most recognized in your industry. Keep in mind that you may need to meet certain requirements before sitting for an exam. For example, you may need a minimum amount of education or work experience. Let's review a few examples of business certifications that have a proven record of making professionals more marketable in their fields.

Certified Public Accountant

The Certified Public Account (CPA) designation is one of the most recognized designations in the business field. CPAs are accountants who have completed a required course of study and passed the Uniform CPA Examination developed and administered by the American Institute of CPAs. This test is difficult to pass and requires extensive knowledge of auditing and accounting.

Becoming a CPA qualifies you to do some things that a regular accountant can't do, such as performing mandatory audits of publicly traded companies in the United States. In addition to making you eligible for expanded career opportunities, the CPA designation also leads to higher earnings.

The Robert Half Salary Guide reports that CPAs typically earn at least 5 to 15 percent more than accountants who have not earned the CPA designation.

Project Management Professional

There are a few different project management certifications, but the most recognizable is the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification awarded by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This designation is only available to project management professionals who have experience leading projects and teams. To earn the PMP certification, you must pass a PMI administered exam.

A PMP certification could lead to additional career opportunities and will most likely translate to higher earnings as well. The Earning Power Project Management Survey reports that PMP-certified professionals earn about 20 percent more than project management professionals without a certification.

Certified Financial Planner

The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation is the gold standard in the financial planning field. In the United States, the CFP certification is awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.  To become a CFP, financial planners must have at least a bachelor's degree, three years of professional experience, pass a comprehensive examination, and agree to observe a code of ethics.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards reports that more than 80 percent of financial planners who have earned this designation feel like they have a competitive edge over their non-certified counterparts. This edge translates into more career opportunities and higher earnings in the field.