December 9, 2021
What to Look For in Certifications: Three key traits to look for to find valuable certifications for students.
Let’s be honest: the certification market could benefit from some improvement. As soon as schools opened up to the possibility of providing their students with certification opportunities, it seemed that companies hopped in to provide their own options, not always focusing on quality options! Now, schools and their staff must wade through a substantial collection of exams and certificates to find meaningful certifications for their students.
But how can schools differentiate between a certification that creates opportunities for their students and one that doesn’t? Below we outline three key traits to look for to find valuable certifications for students:
The first trait to look for is relevance. The certification must be one that matches the skills that are in demand right now. To determine what skills and concepts are relevant, it’s important that someone who understands the industry is either part of the decision-making process or available for consultation.
There are many certifications in the technology and computer science fields that appear relevant to the untrained eye. But some certifications may be misleading. Among the certifications in use today, many available options that were relevant 15 years ago have fallen out of favor or been replaced by new skills that are now more in demand.
Examples of commonly accepted relevant and irrelevant certifications include:
Once it is determined that a certification is relevant, the next step is to gauge whether or not it is suitably challenging. Many industry professionals in hiring positions will be well versed in which certifications show apt understanding and which are merely resume-fluff.
The ideal certification will challenge exam takers to accurately measure aptitude. This way, it will filter out candidates who are not ready to work in the industry. If a certification does not adequately test candidates, it will lose credibility when companies hire certified workers who underperform.
Examples of suitably and not suitably challenging certifications include:
Finally, a certification should accurately measure students’ competency in the practical skills employers are seeking. This means that, instead of focusing on a student’s ability to memorize answers and vocabulary, the certification should focus on testing students on application skills.
Reading a manual on a game engine like Unity and reciting all the pages from memory is not the same as applying those skills in a real-world setting. A certification that adds value and reputability to your students will place emphasis on the latter, not the former.
Olivia has background in behavioral ecology and data analysis. She develops and implements SEO, CRO, social media strategy, and authors multi-disciplinary content for our blog, & our social media sites. She's contributed to many of the STEM tie-ins within our curriculum, authored our SEL course, and is a specialist in neurodiverse learning strategies.