Thursday, May 21, 2015

How Going the Extra Mile with the Top IT Certifications Can Pay Off


Last month, Jonathan Feldman’s blog for InformationWeek Government discussed simple strategies for enhancing your salary and value. He opened up with a doozy of a statement. Essentially, his posts about high-paying jobs get lots of responses and high interest. Earning a [substantial] living by doing something that we may not exactly love, but hopefully like an awful lot was the purpose for getting into IT.  Right?

So, here’s the thing. Those fancy, super-high paying jobs will have an impact on the rest of your life. After all, companies aren’t paying top-dollar for 9-to-5 players with just any skillset. When chasing the goose that lays the golden career egg, it’s best to know how much you are willing to invest and what you are willing to trade in for that salary. Hint: IT goes beyond talent and experience.

The hard part is figuring out your life priorities, getting comfortable with them, and factoring them into your career goals. We’re talking about the things you don’t see when dollar signs are dancing around your head. Things like family commitments, travel preferences, hobbies, and professional interests. Factoring life priorities in doesn’t necessarily mean that they are more important than your career; but this exercise will help you find a position that allows a balance that you can live with in the long run.  Investment is the other half of this equation. You need to be at the top of your game and stay there—or get even better. This means an ongoing investment in training and certification. In turn, this means tracking down the top IT certifications that can really help you stand apart. 

Certification is a step toward defining yourself beyond a job description or academic degree while gaining a sense of personal satisfaction. Earning certification may bring prestige and recognition from your peers.  It provides a validation of your skills and demonstrates to your employer that you can effectively meet the needs of your company. It’s a commitment to life-long learning and professional growth.

With that in mind, it's true that “Valuable people get valued, and paid.” And regardless of your work-life balance, you can still be valued. Unlike a house, which appreciates with age; your skills require regular maintenance to hold value. Embarking on an ongoing, career-long learning plan is the key to keeping skills current and on trend with industry developments. It’s also your key to switching specialties. Training and certification are critical, but you not only have to learn. You also need to show that you can apply your knowledge in the workplace. If you’re reskilling, consider taking on side projects that will prove skills and move you on to that next career placement. Learning about your industry, being aware of customer demand on the market level and staying engaged with industry news will help you see what’s coming down the pike in terms of skills demand. A little advanced notice can go a long way.

Because in the end, it’s all about making sure you are set up to succeed.

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