Is That Certification Necessary?

Is That Certification Necessary?

This is perhaps the first question on the mind of every forward looking and upwardly mobile professionals.

While it is advisable to be professionally certified, it is equally wise not to get lost in the race of piling up certifications and titles without regards for relevance or fit for purpose.

What is Professional Certification?

Professional Certification is a designation or title earned by an individual to guarantee expertise or ‘technical know-how’ on a particular job or discipline. In actual fact, some recruiters and hiring managers believe that the certificate holder has the required knowledge, competence and skills to perform the job or task [based on generally acceptable standards].

Almost every profession, field or occupation has numerous and conflicting certifications from both local and international certification bodies or authorities. The main concern is now on importance and relevance of these certifications.

Do you have to sign up for certifications, tactlessly?? How do you identify relevant professional certifications??

In this article, we will discuss two sets of workers in relation to professional certification status.

  1. Workers with Professional Certifications.
  2. Workers without Professional Certifications.


Let’s classify the certifications into 3 distinct groups based on what motivates the workers to acquire the Certification.

  • Status-Driven Certification
  • Position-Specific Certification
  • Future-Bound Certification

Status-Driven Certification: This is a certification a worker acquires based on an impulse or based on general perception of colleagues or peers. This type of worker may not have a well-defined career path yet, the need to join the league of professionals with titles behind their names supersedes the relevance of the certificate to his immediate or future aspirations.

Position-Specific Certification: This is a certification that is acquired because of the demand of the job. Some workers in this group found themselves in an industry or job that is certification-driven and hence, there is need to get relevant certificates.

While other types of workers in this category are those who have identified their career path or interest and are acquiring relevant certifications to gain more knowledge, expertise and career advancement in their chosen fields.

Future-Bound Certification: This is the type of certification a worker acquires in anticipation of a future career switch or career transition.

The Certification may not have any connection with current role or job responsibilities but the holder is preparing and positioning himself for future opportunities.

If accidentally you have certifications in unrelated fields; here is what you can do;

During job application process (on your Cover Letter/CV/Résumé/LinkedIn), only highlight the certifications that are relevant to the industry or the job you are applying for.


Nothing justifies a worker/entrepreneur/business owner with many years of experience without a relevant professional certification. It is still a mystery how such people remain relevant and competitive in the face of ever-challenging and ever-evolving business environments.

Here are justifications for acquiring relevant certifications; 

  • To uphold industry standards and professional ethics.
  • To be more valuable to employers (or clients as a business owner)
  • To have a competitive edge over non-certified peers.
  • For promotion opportunities at work.
  • For better job opportunities and career advancements.
  • To earn higher salary and benefits.

Professional certification does come with a cost; therefore, every aspiring holder should conduct a comprehensive research on industry acceptability, cost implications, exam logistics and other requirements of the desired certification programme.


  1. Check job descriptions or job requirements of roles you are interested in. Look out for required certifications.
  2. Join professional groups or associations relevant to your career interest. Pay attention to discussions on industry expectations and requirements.
  3. Check profiles of experts with similar career aspirations. Compare profiles and identify knowledge or certification gaps.

Sources to check: LinkedIn, Job Boards, Company Pages, Personal websites of experienced professionals in your field.


There are few professional certifications that are acceptable and applicable across all industries, fields and professions.

Examples include but not limited to;

  • PMP– Project Management Professional. Required by any organization that wants to initiate, plan, monitor and execute projects successfully.
  • Six Sigma Green Belt– This certification is required in any organization that wants to improve quality and processes.
  • ISO – International Organization for Standardization- ISO 27001 Lead Auditor or Lead Implementer- required by organization that wants to protect data from comprehensive range of threats.

Certificate holders need not worry about relevance to job, these certifications are widely accepted across different sectors and regions.


To young graduates; the highest priority should be getting a job and accumulating significant number of years of work experience before signing up for relevant professional certifications.

Most times professional certifications cannot replace number of years of work experience.

To professionals, Certification is a process and not a destination, it should therefore not be the ultimate achievement a professional should focus on. Every professional should endeavour to perform beyond expectations within the ethical standards of his profession.

Professional Certification is a tool used to enhance relevant skills and knowledge for a specific career path, it does not always guarantee a job or higher pay but it does demonstrate willingness to learn and readiness to embrace industry best practices on the part of the holder.


YES, that professional certification is necessary if it is relevant to your career interests.

NO, that professional certification is not necessary if it has no relationship or correlation with your present or future career interests.

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