Certification is a point of entry for professionals
"It’s a practical education that they can take and use in the job the next day."
The good news is, learning doesn’t stop at graduation. The bad news is, neither do tests. Good or bad in today’s competitive job market, continuing education is often a must.
Just when you thought you’d be trading in your degree for a corner office, there’s the new challenge of “certification.” Depending on the profession becoming certified is either a requirement, point of entry or invaluable asset.
But the powers that be aren’t completely heartless. Many professional organizations have partnered with schools to offer their employees/students the best of both worlds.
“Our motto is ‘learn while you earn,’” says Judy Gombita manager of communication at Certified General Accountants of Ontario. The CGA is recognized by the Canadian government as one of three professional accounting organizations in place to regulate the field by issuing a designation. Having a designation in accounting is basically a requirement for moving ahead.
“Any job postings for CFO’s or even managerial positions almost always require a professional accounting designation,” says Gombita.
Along with industry specific requirements, usually a combination of real world experience and classroom hours, a designation or certificate is attained after passing a series of tests. Enter continuing education.
Many colleges and universities offer courses aimed at passing such industry tests.
Peter Monkhouse is the academic co-ordinator for the Project Management Certificate at Ryerson University’s G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education. The Project Management Certificate is not a requirement for the PMP (Project Management Professional), the industry’s designation. It does, however, fill the class-hours requirement.
But like many continuing education courses aimed at attaining certification, it does more than that, says Monkhouse. “First, you get the benefit of the instructors sharing their experiences. They bring that practical experience from the school of hard knocks to the students. Second, at Ryerson the students have all worked for at least five or 10 years and they have their own experiences they bring and share with one another.”
Beyond the benefits of a classroom setting, schools that partner with professional organizations offer the advantage of practical and customized knowledge.
“They are very beneficial, first for the credibility but also because of the curriculum,” says Eva Kupidura, the co-ordinator of Information Studies at the University of Toronto’s Professional Continuing Education department. “We developed it together with ARMA (the industry’s professional association). So our curriculum is specifically designed for certain requirements of the profession.”
“It’s a practical education that they can take and use in the job the next day,” says Monkhouse. Beyond marketability they get the experience to reinforce the education and education to enhance the experience.