Are Certifications Worth It?

There are always people and organizations promoting different certifications to tradespeople. Are they worth it? In short, some are better than others, but they’re never not valuable. They show people that, at a minimum, you’re dedicated to improving your status, and that you’re also likely committed to improving your knowledge and skills.

But to a certain extent, the real value will be determined by your intentions and attitude.

If you’re one of those people simply trying to rack up a bunch of certifications for the sole purpose of having a bunch of certifications, then the value is probably somewhat lost on you. Yeah, that list might look impressive on your TraLaMa profile or social media page, but if you go into it with the wrong mentality, and you don’t apply the teachings of the program to your everyday work, the benefits will likely be negligible.

However, if you’re legitimately participating in certification programs to become better at the work you do each day, to expand the depth and breadth of your knowledge, and to prove – to yourself and others – that you’re one of the best in your trade, certifications (and the training that goes into earning those certifications) can be a key part of you becoming a more trusted, respected, skilled, and financially successful trades professional.

Another variable is the certifications themselves.

Some certifications are required to do and get certain work. Other certifications have become so widely accepted and respected that many employers will not hire a tradesperson without those specific certifications. These certifications are definitely worth earning and listing in your profiles, resumes, job applications, business cards, or anywhere else it makes sense to include them.

Other certifications are somewhat less common, but have real value, because the process of earning them either teaches you uniquely valuable skills, or confirms that you are a superior tradesperson. One of the reasons these certifications are less common is that they are difficult to obtain due to requiring an uncommon level of expertise. Additionally, some certifications are highly specialized and relevant to only a small segment of tradespeople and specific job types.

At the other end of the spectrum, there’s a group of certifications that do little more than cost you money, and make money for the certifying organizations. Some of these certifications are so easy that earning one really doesn’t prove much of anything. Some of them are outdated. And there are few of them that are borderline scams.

Surprisingly, a few of these more questionable certifications are actually from relatively respected organizations. In most of these instances, it’s the first level of certification that is somewhat hollow, while successive certifications actually have value and require a measurable level of expertise to achieve. Unfortunately, however, in many cases, only those people really in-the-know can distinguish between the useless certifications and the valuable certifications from these groups.

So, how do you determine which certifications to pursue? Here are a couple of tips.

  • Investigate which certifications are required or nearly required in your trade, in your area, or by the employers you find most desirable.
  • See what certifications have been earned by the tradespeople you respect (whether you know them personally, or they’re someone you admire and follow on social media.)
  • Look into which respected organizations offer which certification programs.
  • Learn about the different levels of certifications offered by organizations.

And don’t forget, whatever certifications you do have or eventually earn, list them in your TraLaMa profile. It will show dedication to your trade and your skills.