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Supplementing your work qualifications with a professional certificate is a great way to boost your career, as it demonstrates your proficiency in a specialized field. Most professional fields offer a wide range of certifications you can choose from based on your current skills and experience. In this article, we list a few common professional certifications that can help you impress hiring managers and increase your earning potential.

Related: Setting Goals To Improve Your Career

What is a professional certificate?

A professional certification is an acknowledgement from an accredited organization or association that shows your level of experience in that field or proficiency with a specific skill. To qualify for some professional certifications, applicants first need practical experience in their fields. However, some junior professionals obtain entry-level certifications that need little to no experience.

For some occupations, applicants need professional certifications in order to gain employment. For instance, pilots, chartered accountants and physician assistants need specialized certifications that show they can successfully perform their job-related duties.

Related: When a Professional Degree Will Help You Advance in Your Career

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Professional certifications that can help your career

Employers tend to hold certain professional certifications in higher regard than others. If you obtain certification from a respected institution in a field with high demand, you can distinguish yourself from other job candidates.

Here are four occupational fields that have positive growth rates according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, followed by certifications that show a candidate has an understanding in the field or specialization:

1. Information technology

Companies rely on information technology (IT) professionals to maintain and improve various technological aspects of the workplace, such as cloud computing, data security, networking, mobile applications and software and hardware support. The statistics bureau projects a 13% growth for IT professionals from 2016 to 2026, meaning there should be plenty of employment opportunities.

Here are three IT certifications that could increase your chances of gaining employment with a higher earning potential:

  • Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect: This certification shows that you are proficient at using Google Cloud Platform (GCP) technologies to plan, develop and manage secure and scalable cloud architecture solutions. As companies are increasingly seeking IT professionals with cloud skills, gaining a certification in Google cloud architecture could provide you with more opportunities. There are no prerequisites to complete the exam, though some previous experience working with the GCP could be beneficial.

  • CompTIA Network+: A Network+ certification shows that candidates have mastered the fundamental concepts of installing, maintaining, securing and troubleshooting network components. If you wish to pursue an entry-level networking job such as a junior network technician or infrastructure installer, adding a Network+ certification to your resume can help you stand out during the hiring process. Although there are no prerequisites for completing this exam, CompTIA recommends you have at least one year of experience before signing up.

  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE): The CCIE certification program consists of six separate tracks—collaboration, data center, security, service provider, wireless, and routing and switching. Cisco states that this certification is best for senior networking specialists who have several years of experience in designing, building, implementing and maintaining complex enterprise networking solutions. Although there are no formal requisites to complete any of the six CCIE exams, you should have extensive experience with Cisco products.

2. Project management

Project management is becoming a popular method in many industries for delivering a product or service within a specified amount of time. Although a bachelor’s degree will help you enter the project management field, your chances of gaining employment or increasing your salary can improve if you add a project management certification to your qualifications.

Here are two popular certifications:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP): A PMP certification will enable you to work in different industries with any project management method. To obtain a PMP certification, you must complete 35 hours of training and pass an online exam. You also need to prove that you have the necessary project management experience. If you have a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need 4,500 hours, and if you have a high school diploma, you’ll need 7,500 hours of project management experience.

  • Program Management Professional (PgMP): A program manager is a leadership position that manages and coordinates several related projects all at the same time. Gaining a PgMP certification will demonstrate the fact that you are a highly skilled individual with advanced experience in program management. To qualify for a PgMP certification, you need either a four-year degree plus 6,000 hours of practical experience in both project and program management, or a secondary degree plus 6,000 hours of practical experience in project management and 10,500 hours in program management.

Related: A Guide to Project Scope Management

3. Health care

According to the statistics bureau, health care employment opportunities will grow by 18% from 2016 to 2026, which amounts to about 2.4 million new jobs. There are a wide variety of health care occupations that all require different entry-level qualifications. You can, however, supplement your qualifications with a range of available certifications, which will increase your job opportunities.

Here are two examples:

  • Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN): A CEN qualification shows that a nurse has the necessary skills and experience for emergency nursing, which can increase your earning potential. If you wish to complete the CEN exam, you need a current and unrestricted nursing license or certificate. The board also prefers applicants who have at least two years of experience in emergency rooms.

  • Certified Compliance Technician (CCT): A compliance technician is an administrative health care professional who interprets and implements procedures regarding matters such as privacy, patient services and technology regulations. These professionals also have an important role in bringing affordable health care services to the public. Most compliance technicians hold both a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Care Technology and CCT certifications. There are no requirements to complete the exam, though you should have a thorough understanding of local and federal health care guidelines.

4. Human resources

Many companies have human resources (HR) departments to ensure the safety and satisfaction of all employees. The statistics bureau projects a growth of 9% in opportunities for HR managers from 2016 to 2026, and a growth rate of 7% for HR specialists in the same period.

Here are two certifications you can consider in the human resources field:

  • Professional in Human Resources: This certification is for professionals who have practical work experience in the HR field. Gaining a PHR certificate shows you are proficient in the technical and operational aspects of human resource management. Professionals who wish to apply for this certification need a mix of education ranging from a high school diploma to a master’s degree, and one to four year’s experience in a professional-level HR position.

  • Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR): You can pursue a GPHR certification if you are an HR professional working in a global environment. This certification shows that you can complete multinational HR responsibilities, implement HR policies on an international scale and support the global growth of an organization. To complete this exam, you need a mix of education and global HR experience.

Depending on your interests and current employment field, you can pursue a variety of professional certifications to help you stand out from other candidates during the interview process and increase your base salary. You can choose a certification that fits your experience and education level to help you learn more about your industry and possibly specialize in a certain aspect.

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