IT Certifications and Upward Mobility

Upward mobility is difficult without a college degree or so many think according to a 2016 survey by Pew Research Center. Approximately one-third of Americans who lack a college degree don’t apply for a job fir which they felt they were qualified because of the degree requirements in the job posting. However 26% feel that certification programs in a professional, technical, or vocational field prepares one for the workforce more effectively and more cost efficiently.

The public’s view on student education has shifted in favor of skills development, 35% think postgraduate education should be teaching workplace-relevant skills. According to Pew Research, 56% of Americans with a high school diploma believe that college is where one should learn work-oriented knowledge and skills. The usefulness of a college degree preparing students for a well paying job in today’s economy is mixed. Only 16% think a college degree prepares students for the workforce while 38% think a traditional college degree does not prepare students well.

“A substantially larger share of the public has positive attitudes toward certification programs in a professional, technical, or vocational field in the context of workforce development,” a Pew Research study revealed.

Why then aren’t employers looking for applicants who have gotten vocational certification? Perception seems to be the answer. According to CEO Matt Sigelman of Burning Glass, there is a credibility problem with programs that take less time and effort. Economically speaking, certification is useful in increasing one’s income potential without going into thousands of dollars of debt when there is no guarantee of a job after receiving a bachelor’s degree. Today, even college graduates get certification to be more competitive in the workforce. In high growth industries like technology, a certification can increase one’s earning potential up to $16,000 more than one’s peers annually than those without certification.

There are nearly 1,600 certifications available according to the Certification and Accreditation Program Directory. Certification gages the competency of an individual and is a result of a growing population. So, can certification really help increase one’s income and career opportunities? Sometimes it is the tiebreaker when HR makes its decision in the hiring process. A Brainbench research study noted that certifications significantly boost the likelihood of salary increases above the industry average of up to 3%.

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Austin Free-Net (AFN) a nonprofit organization offers FREE computer training in CompTIA courses. Currently, AFN is offering an IT Certification program. The Austin Free-Net Accelerate Program is in partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission Self –Sufficiency Program. Austin Free-Net will provide training for 180 qualified participants to obtain CompTIA IT Fundamental, CompTIA A+, and /or CompTIA Network +, or CompTIA Security + Certifications to become Computer User Support Specialists or Network Computer System Administrators. At the end of these courses, the student will be prepared to take the national exams for certification. And, Austin Free-Net assists in locating a job for successful candidates. If interested, enroll on AFN’s website.

Theses entry level certifications are general and broad enough to be appealing to a majority of employers. Passing the exam verifies that one has the knowledge and skill level to become an IT professional.

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About the author: Christine is a seasoned marketer with 20+ years experience in writing, publishing, and print/web design. She is a contributor to various blogs on effective use of computer technology. Christine holds a bachelors degree in Organizational Communication from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas and a Professional Marketer Certification from UT Austin.