Do certifications matter? Part II

In a previous article, I posted a survey to assess perceptions of the importance of certifications in the performance improvement field.

Based on results from the survey (from those in the field)  and the views of those in a separate round of questioning,  so far it seems that very few of us are drinking the certification Kool-Aid. Given the small numbers weighing in thus far (n=21) , I’m presenting this as the perceptions of this group only. I’m still running the survey, so you can add your point of view to the mix!

Valued competences, a less valued piece of paper

It’s not that  people don’t value the competences set by organizations like ISPI and ASTD (most generally do), but there’s a distinction between the business value of the certification and its personal value.

The hype and the actuals

There isn’t a certifying body out there that doesn’t promise its certification will:

  • set performance standards for the field
  • help you be more competitive
  • distinguish your work to employers

Yet there’s little evidence that any of these aspirations hold true. In the experience of colleagues weighing in on this subject, most say that their organizations and clients don’t value certification (“It’s hard enough explaining what instructional design is, much less certification!”). A review of job boards, reveals that only a few positions list certifications as a plus (3 of 60 in a search of performance-improvement positions on; 1 of 50 in a search of training and development positions).  Most agree that hiring managers prefer to weigh the value of portfolios and work experiences for themselves.

While many do value the resources certifying organizations provide since they allow  self-directed learners to hone professional skills, in this sample, they’re generally not being swayed to spend the time and money on certification. A fact that certifying bodies might take note of—many are a bit cynical about the motives of these bodies.  Most seem to see these organizations as driven by less than noble goals  (to increase membership, promote sales of services, increase attendance at conferences, etc) versus being focused on a real need defined by the field. Whether  right or wrong in this perspective, certifying bodies have a bit of work to do to convince professionals in the field that certification is actually beneficial/affords a competitive advantage. Those selected testimonials on the organizations’ websites just aren’t doing the job.

Want to weigh in on this discussion? Leave a comment and/or add your thoughts to the survey.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s