The role of professional credentials in the job market

By Donn LeVie Jr.
donn-levie-80x80   Career Connection: Building your professional future

Not all professional credentials are created equal. They're vital for professionals seeking to advance or change careers, but the extent of credential value and use varies from one industry to the next. Therefore, it's important to understand exactly how a professional credential/designation can best serve your career aspirations. 

Many credentials are awarded after rigorous exams and verified experience; some may require degreed standing as well. They attest to the knowledge and expertise of the credential holder. An example is the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential, which is highly regarded and valued within the anti-fraud profession. (Of course, you can't expect a CFE after your name to help if you want to transition to a field outside of the one for which the credential serves.) 

The proper credentials can make it easier to climb the corporate ladder with your current employer or help push open doors a little wider to those professions that may lie on the periphery of your functional expertise. 


When I worked as a geologist/geophysicist from 1980 to 1985 with Phillips Petroleum, one of my unofficial responsibilities was to serve as the division's editor for all technical papers that we sent to journals or conferences. I also was part of the first group of geologists to become certified on Intergraph digital workstations that were used for oil and gas exploration mapping.

The week-long class paid off when I got laid off from my last oil company job in 1986. Nine months later, I got a job as a technical writer/editor for a company that developed geological mapping software — for use on Intergraph digital workstations and other large computers. You can see the relationship between the two jobs/careers that the certification helped bridge. My résumé at the time focused more on my technical and computer skills than my geology/ geophysics skills and experience because those were the skills that had the best chance of being transferred to a tangential field. 

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