Regardless of whether you are a seasoned employee or just starting out in your career, professional certifications prove your dedication, knowledge and commitment to your job. Eligibility requirements vary by industry and the specific certification you are trying to obtain. But, generally, you must pass a formal exam to demonstrate your grasp of key areas of your field. Additionally, you may have to re-certify several times over the course of your career by satisfying continuing education and work-related experience requirements. This keeps you informed of changing laws and trends in your line of work. Certifications are available in a wide range of industries, including accounting, human resources, information technology and health care.
An accountant who is looking to boost her earning potential or career advancement opportunities may seek the CPA designation. While the job duties required of an accountant are the same regardless of your certification status, many employers prefer to hire CPAs over non-certified accountants. In order to become a CPA, or certified public accountant, you must have a undergraduate degree in accounting, receive a passing score on the Uniform CPA Exam administered by your state’s Board of Accountancy and satisfy the work experience requirements designated by your state’s board.
Human resources representatives find value in earning their PHR, or professional in human resources, certification. The HR Certification Institute administers this exam which can be taken once you have met the minimum work experience and education requirements. As of 2013, you must have at least four years of exempt-level HR experience and a high school diploma; two years of experience along with a bachelor's degree; or one year of experience and a master's degree. The HRCI also offers variations of the PHR certification, including the SPHR, or senior professional in human resources, GPHR, or global professional in human resources and a separate California PHR certification.
If you are considering an information technology career, the A+ certification can help you land your first job. Administered by CompTIA, the A+ certification program teaches the basics of computer installation, configuration, troubleshooting and networking. You’ll also learn about basic PC and mobile operating systems. While certification is certainly not required to work in IT, having your A+ certification will help to set you apart from the competition and increase your market value by demonstrating that you are subject matter expert in your field. You must have at least 500 hours of relevant work experience and be knowledgeable in each of these topics before you are eligible to take this exam.
Financial service representatives may opt to become CFPs, or certified financial planners, by completing three years of financial planning experience and passing an extensive examination. CFPs help clients to meet their financial goals by looking at their overall financial picture and putting together an action plan for debt consolidation, investments and general money management. Financial planners who have obtained their CFP designation may be more successful in gaining clients' trust due to the financial expertise that is implied by these credentials.
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