Cetification can have many different rewards.C-E-R-T-I-F-I-C-A-T-I-O-N! When we talk about the benefits of this word some of the most obvious ones that come to mind are monetary: higher salary, greater earning potential. Money is certainly a pleasant byproduct that comes with being a skilled IT professional, and certification is an essential step to becoming skilled.

Besides money, however, there are many other benefits to becoming IT certified, including these four:

Certifications equal industry recognition. Hopefully you are an individual with strong experience in IT. The sort who proudly talks about having spent eight years in the same domain. You know all the software version numbers released in the past 10 years by heart, and you frequently commiserate with your peers about how a certain beneficial feature won’t work on the systems of a particular Fortune 500 company because they are using an outdated version of a particular software. If so, then good for you.

I hope you’re not that other sort of guy. The one with eight years of experience in a similar domain who can barely spell the name of the software correctly. He can maybe create a small automated business process, but hardly remembers the exact version of the software that he is using with his current client, and would draw a total blank if asked about the new features in that particular version.

To an employer who doesn’t know either of these two hypothetical individuals, they may appear the same. For an employer looking for consultation, or to make a hire, they might be inclined to pick whoever has the lower asking price.

This is where an IT certification makes a critical difference. You can flash your certification, and say, “Hey, look here! I have already been tested on a global paradigm, on par with thousands of other IT professionals, and this particular organization (Oracle, Microsoft, TestOut, etc.) has ‘certified’ me to be at a certain standard globally.”

As an employer, as soon as you told me you were certified, I would look at you in awe, with an understanding that you’re worth your salt. A premier organization has tested you and given their stamp of approval to your abilities. Congratulations, you have the job.

What if you are a recent university graduate with little to no work experience? All the more reason to obtain a certification. Prospective employers typically ask your experience. Without a long list of modules implemented, or clients served, you won’t have much more to say than, “I am new to this area. I have never done a project with that much depth for any client. But, trust me, I know what I am talking about.”

Yeah, right. Employers are not very likely to trust you with their expensive systems.

The answer is to get certified. No more pointed questions that can only be countered only by vague and puffed-up assertions of experience. Certification exams are global. All individuals are tested equally, irrespective of caste, creed, race, color, gender, years of experience, or clients.

Go! Get certified!

Certifications help build strong professional networks. Similar minds think alike. Intelligent people like to mingle with other intelligent people. Did you know that there are thousands of networking groups all over the world? Almost all of them with links to platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. There are even groups dedicated exclusively to IT certified professionals!

Your certification means you can be part of that crowd. You can talk to other experts in your subject area, discuss questions, and learn about new features in software versions not even released yet. Maybe because somebody in the group is a big shot and has insider information on what to expect in the next version. Maybe because somebody just went to the latest Oracle OpenWorld (or similar industry event), and is sharing their experience. This is an “elite” circle of IT professionals, some who are amongst the BEST in the Industry. Have a difficult technical problem in your domain? Now you have others to ask for guidance.

Alas! You can’t be a member of this group unless you are certified.

Go! Get certified!

Cetification can have many different rewards.Certifications require you to enhance your knowledge. Remember how you always planned to learn that particular subject area? How about the time a potential employer asked to test you on a particular set of topics, and you had to politely tell them that that wasn’t your core area of expertise? How many times have you drawn a blank as your peers are having fun discussing advanced topics in your area?

Certifications will help you avoid these awkward moments. The IT industry changes rapidly and it is easy for skills to become outdated. It’s no secret that it is your skills, as well as how effectively you stay abreast of the latest advances in technology, that defines your value and will eventually determine your success in the IT industry. Certification is a great way to keep pace with newer features that come along. Why stop learning?

Certification exams are generally well rounded. This means that you are tested on all areas, including some that you may have neglected. Exams test you a little bit on almost all features of the IT solution. Knowing you will be tested on all features of your area forces you to keep some time aside to fill in the gaps in your knowledge.

It also forces you to practice concepts using a network simulator. Playing around with technology in a simulated environment is an IT professional’s dream: Errors do not lead to costly disasters. You learn more by doing than just reading. Certain exams, like those given Cisco, even involve some practical aspects as well.

Dive deep into that technology, expand your skills, learn new concepts, and build upon your existing ones. Then go tell your manager, “You know what? I now have skills in the area that I always wanted to work in. And here is a copy of my certification to prove it.”

Go! Get certified!

Certifications can help retain your job when the market talks tough. Remember the market crash a few years back when booming salaries all went bust? The banking sector drives a lot of the IT industry, and when it crashed the doors closed on a lot of mom-and-pop shops. At the same time, bigger IT firms cut their workforces drastically, and many who were fortunate enough to retain their jobs still saw huge paycheck reductions.

Guess what sort of employee organizations held onto during those tough times? Who were the ones continuing in their organizations working at the same fat salaries?

You guessed it. The “elite,” employees on whom entire organizations depend. The super professionals with IT credentials their employers can boast about to a client.

The result? Their organizations won the projects, the lights were kept on, and they continued to receive their paychecks. My heart goes out to all those who had to face the hard times, and all the families that suffered the terrible plight of unemployment.

Do yourself and your loved ones a favor. Go get certified!

An IT certification will do you a world of good, personally, emotionally, and professionally, either in your organization, or when searching for a new job. And yes of course, it will still benefit you monetarily.

An IT certification is an opportunity to really help your career take off. Check out the next available exam dates and register.

Stop thinking about it!

Go! Get certified!