Is Formal Certification Really That Important?

June 24, 2024

Throughout your life, you'll encounter opportunities to expand your credentials with formal certifications, degrees, and other documents. But if the point is to acquire new knowledge and skills, does that formal certification really matter?

On some level, formal certification is – if you’ll pardon the expression – a formality. But there are also some important benefits of being formally certified, and for multiple parties involved.

The Value of Training and Education

Most people understand that training and education are important for an employee’s development, hence why formal certification is called into question. For a great multitude of tasks and responsibilities, it's absolutely vital that employees get the training, education, and experience necessary to carry out those tasks and responsibilities safely and effectively. The certification is typically only a form of recognition that the employee has reached a satisfactory threshold in these areas – at least, at first glance.

Take, for example, forklift certification. Forklifts are very powerful machines that are downright dangerous in the wrong hands. It's essential that anyone operating a forklift have safety training and education, along with some practice in a safe, supervised environment. Forklift certification is, in some ways, an acknowledgement that this training and education has been received; in fact, many online forklift certification programs also include that training and education.

So is the formal certification really worth it?

The short answer is yes.

Why Formal Certification Matters to Employers

Formal certification is important for employers, and for several reasons.

· A mark of completion. Formal certification is a mark of completion for acquiring a specific set of knowledge and/or skills. Training and education take time, and it's sometimes hard to tell exactly when someone has received all the requisite training and education to handle a responsibility independently. Formal certification is an acknowledgement that the training phase is complete and this person is now prepared to handle the responsibility on their own.

· Official recognition. Certification usually comes from an esteemed, respected third party, serving as official recognition that the employee has completed their training and education. For many employers, this is valuable; it's a mark of confidence from a trusted body.

· Internal tracking and assignments. Certifications also help with internal tracking and responsibility assignments. If you know who is certified and who isn't, you can more easily coordinate and balance your team. Certification is a binary consideration; people either are or aren't certified. You don't have to worry about the ambiguity that a person has received “some” or “most” of the requisite training.

· Pay and responsibilities. The presence or absence of certifications also dictates the total responsibilities and employee can take on within your organization, and often dictates the pay and benefits they receive. It's an equalizing force in the context of your organization.

· Employee incentives. Providing benefits and rewards to employees who are formally certified serves as an incentive for employees to pursue training and education they might otherwise ignore. It's a way of motivating your workforce to learn new things and increase their skills.

· Liability management. Also, in many cases, having employees who are formally certified can assist with liability management. If you can prove that your employees were properly trained and educated, you're less likely to be found at fault for a workplace accident. In fact, some certifications can help you lower your insurance costs as well.

Why Formal Certification Matters to Employees

Formal certification, beyond the education and training associated with it, is also valuable for employees.

· Recognition and bragging rights. Some employees feel good when receiving official certification. It's a recognition of their efforts and gives them bragging rights in many contexts.

· A boost in pay. Some employees are motivated to pursue formal certifications because employers are likely to increase their pay as a result of them having it. Who doesn't like an extra word for efforts that go above and beyond the call of duty?

· Confidence and trust. Earning a formal certification gives most employees confidence in their newfound abilities. It helps them feel ready for their new responsibilities. Similarly, when employees work around other employees who are formally certified, they have a keener sense of trust and often feel safer.

· Resume expansion. While not all certifications are equally beneficial, most certifications allow you to meaningfully expand your resume. It's an opportunity to advance your career and increase the likelihood of being hired for your next gig.

Is formal certification really that important? The short answer is yes. While formal certification is, in many ways, a mere formality, it also carries significant benefits for both employers and employees – and it’s often well worth the extra cost of acquisition.

That said, every type of formal certification is distinct, and you should always do your due diligence before pursuing one.


Urban Splatter

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