Will a Certificate Help You STAND OUT?

Will a Certificate Help You STAND OUT?

By: Liu Siyu | OLC Project Assistant
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When I talk about certificates in this article, they are defined as certifications designated by universities and colleges that can be achieved in two years or less. For example, as a student concentrating in marketing at the Beedie School of Business, I may decide to take extra courses to get an additional certificate in Business Analytics and Decision Making (BADM) at SFU. This would take me approximately two extra semesters to finish school.

Knowing that getting additional professional certificates involves quite a lot of time and money, you, who are now struggling to get a bachelor degree (or have already finished a degree), may feel confused whether it is worth the cost to get one. What are some of the ways to earn them? How valuable can a certificate be? Here I’d like to provide you some ideas that may help you clear your doubts and make better study plans.

There are many ways to get a certificate: self-studying at home and participating in an exam, attending an online course, going to a night school, taking more courses in the university, etc. If you choose to study at home, you may be able to have a more flexible time schedule and choose the delivery that suits you best. However, this may also mean that you need to have good time management skills and make more effort in completing research and exercises.

Some people claim that getting a certificate will make you stand out from your peers. However, it really depends on the type of jobs you are looking for and how important the certificate is to the job. The best certificate should be the one that shows your skills needed by a certain job market (e.g. leadership skills, language skills, etc.), and is closely related to or complements your degree. A child care certificate for an education student may be a must for becoming a teacher of a kindergarten, while a certificate he/she achieved from a computing science program may not draw much attention from the interviewers.

It is worth mentioning that when the pass rate of the exam(s) for getting the certificates is lower (e.g. less than 60%), the fact that being able to pass the exam(s) itself is a strong proof indicating that you took a lot of effort to prepare for the exam(s), and are very likely to have expertise in this area.

If the exam(s) you passed are not very difficult or there is no exam at all, having a certificate could still help you a lot in interviews. But this only happens when you are able to show the skills or abilities you achieved in the process of learning. For example, excellent poster samples with a graphic design certificate will definitely show that you have the ability to use graphic design tools, and are able to apply what you have learnt in practice. Having achieved a certain goal (like learning a programming language) in a short time (like a week) in the process of getting the certificate can also show that you have the willingness to learn, ability to learn fast and can work under pressure.

It is never too late when you decide to study and earn a certificate. Even several years after you graduate from school, getting a certificate related to your job will still give you an advantage in the competitive labor market. Keeping your knowledge updated means that you are able to keep acquiring new information, new skills and current thinking, just like what a new graduate student can do.  Your company needs some fresh blood, and so does your career. 

Overall, the more effort you need to put in to get a certificate, the more skills you gain related to your degree and your career, and the more progress you have made, the more value it will have for the companies and the employers. And it is always good to start learning NOW.

After reading the passages above, are you still thinking about getting a certificate? If yes, make a plan and go for it!

Want to get a certificate from SFU?

If you are doing a degree in SFU, there are certificates programs from different departments that enable you to dig deeper into some areas you are interested in and grow your skills:

And, if you already have a Bachelor Degree, here is a program you can check out:


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Posted on September 22, 2017